Syfy Acquires Female 'Van Helsing' Series With Neil LaBute as Showrunner

hugh jackman van Helsing - H 2015

Syfy is pulling from the book of Dracula for its latest series.

The NBCUniversal-owned cable network has acquired Van Helsing to series with writer Neil LaBute set as showrunner, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Originally introduced as Professor Abraham van Helsing in the 1897 gothic horror novel Dracula, the character is best known as a vampire hunter, monster hunter and arch nemesis of Count Dracula.

In this new interpretation, the central character is now a female, Vanessa Helsing, the next in a lineage of warriors who must lead mankind against a world controlled by vampires. When Vanessa is resurrected five years in the future, she learns vampires have taken over the world and that she possesses unique power over them. She is essentially humanity’s last hope to lead an offensive to take back what has been lost.

LaBute will exec produce with Simon Barry, Evan Tyler, Dave Brown, Daniel March and Chad Oakes and Mike Frisley for Nomadic Pictures (Fargo). Nomadic Pictures will produce the series and distribute it within the U.S. Dynamic Television will handle international distribution.

"I am extremely excited to be working with Syfy and Nomadic Pictures to create a unique, character-driven action series that will move the traditional vampire tropes into bold and unexpected new territories” LaBute said in a statement. “This is a wonderful chance for us to forge great stories and unforgettable characters and throw them into a world where the stakes – both dramatic and personal – are tremendously high."

Production on the 13-episode first season will begin in January in Vancouver for a fall 2016 launch.

Van Helsing represents a new mythology in sci-fi by challenging traditional vampire rules," said Oakes, co-chairman of Nomadic Pictures." The series is unique in exploring a world completely dominated by vampires, while the human characters have to learn the importance of working together to ensure their survival. Mike and I are thrilled to team up once again with the talented Neil LaBute to deliver an amazing series."

The pickup comes in the midst of a rebranding for Syfy, which is hoping to turns its focus back to genre fare with upcoming projects like Childhood's End and The Expanse. The network recently canceled Defiance, Dominion and Haven.

Van Helsing reimagines a classic story in a compelling new way, featuring a bold and complex heroine”, said Chris Regina, Syfy's senior vp program strategy. "This high octane acquired original series will be a terrific addition to our lineup next year." 

Van Helsing was most recently adapted for the big screen in 2004. The film, starring Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale, grossed more than $300 million worldwide. David Warner (Titanic) portrayed Van Helsing on the Showtime series Penny Dreadful for two episodes in 2014.

LaBute, whose credits include Full Circle, Death at a Funeral and Lakeview Terrace, is repped by Gersh and Gendler & Kelly.