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'Rocketman' Director Dexter Fletcher, Robert Kirkman Tackling Universal Monster Movie 'Renfield'

Who's Renfield? Let's just say he's a big Dracula fan.
Dexter Fletcher (left), Robert Kirkman   |   Getty Images; Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
Who's Renfield? Let's just say he's a big Dracula fan.

After spending time in the 1970s and the 1980s, Dexter Fletcher is heading off into the world of monsters.

Fletcher, who last directed the Elton John biopic Rocketman, will helm Renfield, a Universal Pictures monster movie tethered to the world of Dracula.

The character of Renfield originated in Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula as a patient in an asylum with an obsession for drinking blood, deluded into thinking he will find immortality. He bows at the feet of the vampire king, who feeds him insects and rats and dangles everlasting life in front of him.

The loyal follower of Dracula has appeared numerous times onscreen, including being played by Dwight Frye in 1931's Dracula and by Tom Waits in Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 adaptation.

This take on the project is described as a comedic, lighthearted approach in the vein of Taika Waititi's vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows, in which Renfield realizes he is in a bad, co-dependent relationship.

The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman came up with the pitch for the take. Ryan Ridley, who has worked on FX's comedy Ghosted and Adult Swim's Rick & Morty, wrote the script.

Kirkman is also producing via his Skybound Entertainment banner along with the company's David Alpert, Bryan Furst and Sean Furst.

Fletcher has had a relatively brief but fast-rising directing career, with the well-regarded Eddie the Eagle among his credits. It was his stepping in to replace Bryan Singer to complete Bohemian Rhapsody that garnered him more notices and plenty of Hollywood attention. Following Rocketman, Fletcher became attached to a third Sherlock Holmes film for Warner Bros., but there is no timetable for that project, which is still in development.

Universal has a number of films based on its classic monsters in various stages of development, with Leigh Whannell's The Invisible Man generating strong buzz ahead of its February opening and Paul Feig developing Dark Army. The studio was initially trying to create an interconnected cinematic universe in the Marvel Studio mold, but after the cool reception of 2017's The Mummy, it changed course and is now pursuing a more filmmaker-driven approach.

Fletcher is repped by CAA and Sloane Offer. Kirkman is with CAA, Circle of Confusion and Katz Golden. Ridley is repped by 3 Arts Entertainment and Ziffren Brittenham.

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