By Steven Zeitchik
Universal and Imagine are breathing new life into “Bride of Frankenstein.”
The companies are in talks with Neil Burger to write and direct their long-stirring remake of the 1935 monster movie. Burger, who would pen the script with writing partner Dirk Wittenborn, most prominently wrote and helmed “The Illusionist,” the Edward Norton magician mystery that earned nearly $40 million for Yari Film Group in 2006.
James Whale’s “Bride of Frankenstein,” which starred Boris Karloff as the monster and Elsa Lanchester as the titular bride, continued the story that began with 1931’s “Frankenstein.” A monster, on the run from an angry mob, has a series of adventures, and also persuades Dr. Frankenstein to create a mate. The doctor is successful, but the bride (who is not a central character) winds up rejecting the monster at the end of the movie.
The CAA-repped Burger, who also penned and helmed Iraq-veteran pic “The Lucky Ones,” is attached to direct “Dark Fields,” a thriller about a slacker who discovers a drug that makes him sharper. That pic is also set up at Universal, but progress has been slowed since star Shia LaBeouf was forced to pull out last year with a hand injury.
“Bride” has had a series of stops and starts. About five years ago, “American Splendor” scribes Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini were attached to write the screenplay for the Uni/Imagine update. Their concept was to set the picture in contemporary New York, with a young woman dying and then unnaturally brought back to life (Burger’s version is expected to differ significantly from that concept). Jacob Estes, a writer on Spider-Man spinoff “Venom,” also at one point had been attached to write a draft.
Brian Grazer and Sean Daniel will produce the pic; Karen Kehela, David Bernardi and Chris Wade will oversee for Imagine.
Universal is eager to develop reboots of its library of classic monster titles, insiders in the development community said. It is developing a new version of “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” the 1954 Jack Arnold pic about a monstrous fish that a group of travelers encounters in the Amazon, and later this year it will release the Benicio Del Toro-toplined “The Wolf Man,” an update on George Waggner’s 1941 werewolf tale.
“Frankenstein” has been remade numerous times — Mary Shelley’s book sits in the public domain — but “Bride” has had only one other go-round on the big screen: a 1985 version at Columbia starring Sting and Jennifer Beals. In 1999, Bill Condon’s “Gods and Monsters,” a biopic of Whale, showed clips from the film and re-created the bride herself.