NBC Bites for Van Helsing-Inspired Series

Daily Variety reports that NBC will try out a supernatural drama series inspired by Universal’s upcoming, effects-laden horror fest, Van Helsing. The film, directed by Stephen Sommers (The Mummy, The Mummy Returns) is scheduled to hit theaters May 7, 2004. If picked up, the series, titled Transylvania, will bow shortly afterward.

Universal Network Television says Transylvania will not be a spin-off of Van Helsing, but will take place in the same fictionalized 19th century world where mortals and monsters clash. Sommers will reportedly write the pilot and exec. produce the series about a young Texan who comes to be the sheriff of a town plagued by the supernatural. As much as $3 million dollars will be paid in penalties if NBC doesn’t add the series to its lineup. Box office receipts from the film will likely make or break its chances.

In Van Helsing, actor Hugh Jackman (X-Men, Swordfish) stars as author Bram Stoker’s famous vampire killer, who must battle not only Dracula, but Dr. Jekyll, the Wolfman, and Frankenstein’s Monster as well.

This summer, Twentieth Century Fox tried to resurrect figures from classic horror and fantasy fiction with The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The box office failure wove Dracula heroine Mina Harker, Dr. Jekyll, The Invisible Man, Captain Nemo, Dorian Gray, Tom Sawyer and others into one action yarn. If Screen Gems’ Underworld, about battling vampires and werewolves, does similarly disappointing numbers this weekend, Universal may have a harder time convincing audiences that Van Helsing can work.