It’s nothing uncommon when a film (like the Underworld franchise) — or series — is ravaged by critics, yet stills goes on to see strong financial success. And Hollywood currently has an overabundance of cinematic properties that fall into that category. Easy ones that come to mind include Transformers, Resident Evil, Twilight, and the seemingly dead but somehow alive Underworld series. Starring Kate Beckinsale and directed by Len Wiseman, 2003’s Underworld made almost $100 million worldwide against a miserly budget of $22 million. Despite the film not being taken in too well by critics, it was still a big hit with audiences because of its darkly sleek style.
The first installment’s box office success led Screen Gems to produce three more of them—Underworld Evolution (2006), Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009), and Underworld: Awakening (2012). But until recently, it seemed like there wasn’t that much interest or motivation for green lighting a fifth Underworld installment. But Screen Gems apparently feels differently from the rest of us because they are currently prepping Underworld: Blood Wars for release next January. What will be interesting to see come the new year is if Blood Wars will have trouble finding as strong success as its predecessors did because the sixth and final installment in the Resident Evil franchise is also hitting theaters that same month. Can audiences enjoy two movies during a very short time span that are both somewhat dated, pretty dumb, and, not to mention, being cheesy? That’s the million dollar question we must ask ourselves.
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The recent trailer for Blood Wars didn’t specify if it was showing us Selene’s last rodeo or not, so it’s quite possible that we could be seeing much more of her in the coming years. The footage looks ridiculous as always, but at least its aware of that fact. But the film’s snowy wasteland setting does seem like an ideal place for bloody vampire battle. If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, or are still on the edge of how you feel about Blood Wars, Screen Gems has released a gorgeous new poster that shows Beckinsale’s deniable magnificence as Selene. Check it out below.
What remains to be seen is if Beckinsale’s dedication will be matched by that of the film’s freshman director. Blood Wars is being captained by first-time feature director Anna Foerster. Prior to Blood Wars, she was involved mostly in television directing for shows like Outlander and Criminal Minds. The decision to have a female director helm a heroine-led film like Blood Wars seems like a good one because it creates the opportunity to have a more believable perspective on Selene.
Despite the talent that Blood Wars has going for it, there’s no denying how late to the game it feels. It’s sad that it will be hitting theaters in January, which is notorious for being a dumping ground for films that studios don’t have much faith in. It’s always possible that Blood Wars could go on to become a surprise hit, just as long as the marketing for the film is good enough. These days any sequel like Blood Wars can become a box office win if the trailers — and, obviously, posters — are done in a way that’s familiar enough to bring back fans of the series but broad enough to entice newcomers that may be turned off by its outré appearance.
Official Underworld Blood Wars synopsis:
Vampire death dealer Selene (Beckinsale) fends off brutal attacks from both the Lycan clan and the Vampire faction that betrayed her. With her only allies, David (James) and his father, Thomas (Dance), she must stop the eternal war between Lycans and Vampires, even if it means she has to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Underworld: Blood Wars opens in U.S. theaters on January 6, 2017, never a good sign when the studio dumps a film right after the New Year.