‘Underworld’: Len Wiseman Spearheading TV Series Adaptation Of Movie Franchise

EXCLUSIVE: Len Wiseman and his production company Sketch Films are moving forward with the long-gestating Underworld TV series based on the popular action horror movie franchise, which is targeting the premium cable/digital space.

“The series will be a pretty big departure from the films,” Wiseman said. “I don’t want to say it’s more adult, but it’s definitely less comic book in its tone and character.”

Wiseman has been involved in all five movies in the Underworld franchise, which he helped launch — he co-wrote and directed the first two and produced the remaining three. Wiseman will executive produce the potential TV series via his Sketch Films with Lakeshore Entertainment’s Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi and Eric Reid. (Lakeshore produced the Underworld movies, with the company’s Rosenberg and Lucchesi serving as producers on all of them). The TV division of Sony, whose Screen Gems unit distributed the features, also is involved in the project.

The Underworld franchise, which kicked off with the eponymous movie in 2003, centers on Selene (Kate Beckinsale), a vampire who works as a Death Dealer. She started off by killing the lycans who allegedly slaughtered her family. The modestly budgeted films have grossed collectively more than half a billion dollars at the boxoffice.

The Underworld series has been carved out of Wiseman’s overall deal at 20th Century Fox Television. As part of that pact, Wiseman serves as an executive producer on the studio’s new Marvel Fox drama series The Gifted after directing the key second episode of the series. He has the distinction of having all pilots he has directed go to series, Hawaii Five-0, Sleepy Hollow, which he also co-created, Lucifer and A.P.B. He also served as an executive producer on the last three series.

In features, Wiseman, who helmed Live Free or Die Hard, is set to direct the next installment in the Die Hard franchise. The plot has been under wraps, but is described as a prequel/sequel that will involve John McClane in both present day and 1970’s New York. Bruce Willis will be returning to play the iconic character, as casting now begins for the actor who will portrayMcClane when he was a NYC beat cop.

“The right casting for this role is crucial,” said Wiseman. “Those bare feet have some very big shoes to fill.”

Wiseman, who will produce the film with Lorenzo Bonaventura, is repped by CAA and attorney Howard Abramson.