20th Century Fox recently announced that its film adaptation of the classic horror novel Frankenstein is moving forward to the pre-production phase, and will be fast-tracked for production with the newly brought on director Shawn Levy (who just finished up directing Real Steel).
The rush is obviously linked to the fact that their are three other studios with Frankenstein adaptations in the works, and the biggest returns will likely go to the film which is finished first.
In the original novel, Victor Frankenstein is a Doctor of Chemistry, and in his attempts to understand the nature of human life, he creates an artificial man out of the remains of dead men.
No real details are given as to how his technology worked, as they are described only as “the machines of life.” Unlike in the later film adaptations, a bolt of lightning is not part of the experiment. It all seems to involve alchemy and surgery.
His experiment is successful, but the creature he animated is abysmally ugly, looking much worse than the Boris Karloff costume.
The story then mostly follows the creature, whose challenge is to survive in a world which turns him away because of his looks. Upon learning of his origin, he vows to deliver pain into Victor’s life. Hatred, pain, and a desire for revenge against his creator consume him. He frames Victor’s maid for murder, seeing her executed, and Victor flees the village in grief and despair.
When the monster finally finds him, he begs for the doctor to create a companion for him, but when Victor fails to do so, the creature murders Victor’s best friend and his fiancé in revenge. Victor and the creature die together in the frozen north.
Max Landis wrote the screenplay for the Fox adaptation, which is a sci-fi interpretation of the classic tale, taking place in future New Orleans. There is no title yet, nor have any actors been cast, but it is still the one most likely now to be finished first.
The closest competitor is Slasher Films with their recently announced Wake the Dead, based on the Steven Niles graphic novels about a pair of med students – one named Victor Franklin – who attempt to bring the dead to life. Haley Joel Osment is set to star in this one – his first starring role since the 2003 family film Secondhand Lions – with Director Jay Russell.
Ghost House Pictures is also working on The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein, which is based on the novel of the same name.
Finally, Colombia Pictures is also working on an adaptation with producer Matthew Tolmach, but we have no other details at this time.
None of these four films have release dates set yet, but I would expect the first of them to appear in the blockbuster summer season of 2013, and the rest to show up a few months later.