Underworld (film series)

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The Underworld: Ultimate Collection, includes all five films.
Created by
Original workUnderworld (2003)
Owned byScreen Gems
(Sony Pictures Entertainment)
Films and television
Short film(s)Endless War (2011)
Video game(s)The Eternal War (2004)

Underworld is a series of action horror films created by Len Wiseman, Kevin Grevioux, and Danny McBride, that follows characters who are caught up in a war between vampires and werewolves (called "Lycans" within the films). Most of the movies star Kate Beckinsale as the protagonist, Selene. The first film, Underworld, was released in 2003; it introduces Selene, an elite vampire-warrior who defies her orders, and Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman), a human who gets caught up in the war. The second film, Underworld: Evolution (released in 2006) follows Selene and Michael as they are hunted by their enemies. The third film, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009), is the prequel to the series, chronicling the origins of the vampire-Lycan war. The fourth film, Underworld: Awakening (2012) is the sequel to Underworld: Evolution. In this film, humans have discovered the existence of vampires and Lycans, and are trying to eradicate both species. A further sequel, titled Underworld: Blood Wars, was released internationally on November 24, 2016, and in the United States on January 6, 2017.

Despite receiving generally negative reviews from critics, the five films have amassed a strong fan following and have grossed a total of $539 million, against a combined budget of $212 million.


Underworld (2003)[edit]

Underworld tells the story of Selene (Kate Beckinsale) a Death Dealer bent on destroying the Lycans who allegedly killed her family. She discovers that the Lycans are pursuing a human, Michael Corvin, for experimentation; Selene captures Michael herself to find out what the Lycans are up to. Along the way, Selene not only discovers a mutinous plot to destroy the vampire Elders, but also a shocking revelation about her father figure Elder, Viktor.

The vampires and Lycans are not supernatural creatures, but rather the product of a virus.

It is revealed in the film that Alexander Corvinus is the first of the vampire and Lycan lines. He was the only survivor of a plague that wiped out his village. Somehow, his body was able to mutate the virus, mold it to his own benefit. He had three sons, two of whom inherited their father's immortality and were bitten, one, Markus, by a bat, and the other, William, by a wolf, resulting in the vampire and werewolf lines. Corvinus's unnamed third son, who did not inherit immortality, also carried the Corvinus Strain as an exact duplicate of the original virus, hidden away in his genetic code and passed along to his human descendants through the centuries. This, according to Singe, is the key to creating a hybrid.

Underworld: Evolution (2006)[edit]

In Underworld: Evolution, Selene takes Michael to a vampire safe house and plans to return to Viktor's estate to awaken Markus, the last vampire Elder. Before she can return, Markus confronts her, having been awakened by the blood of the lycan scientist, Singe, after he was killed. Markus does not seem keen to help Selene and wishes to steal her memories for information. While on the run from Markus, Selene and Michael discover that Markus is the first vampire and that he plans to free his imprisoned brother, William, the first and most savage werewolf.

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009)[edit]

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is a 2009 American film directed by Patrick Tatopoulos. It is the third installment (chronologically the first) in the Underworld series, focusing primarily on the origins of some characters and the events leading to the vampire–Lycan war, depicted in the previous films Underworld and Underworld: Evolution.

As shown in the film, the original werewolves were uncontrollable beasts, unable to retake human form once bitten. However, there was a single werewolf who gave birth to a human-looking child. This child carried a mutation of the original virus, permitting him to alternate between human and werewolf form. He was Lucian, dubbed by Viktor as "the first of the Lycans".

The vampires used the Lycans as slaves to be the guardians of their lairs during the daylight hours and labor during the night. However, Viktor's daughter, Sonja, and Lucian fell in love and she became pregnant. Lucian, the Lycan leader, led a revolt after Viktor killed Sonja to prevent the blending of the species.

Underworld: Awakening (2012)[edit]

A fourth film, entitled Awakening, shot in 3D, was directed by Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein and released on January 20, 2012.[1] Kate Beckinsale reprises her role as Selene[2] and screenwriter John Hlavin stated prior to the film's release that it will not be like any of the previous films.[3] Production began in March 2011 in Vancouver with Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi, and Len Wiseman producing.[citation needed] On April 4, 2011, the title of the film was announced and the following plot synopsis was given:

Kate Beckinsale, star of the first two films, returns in her lead role as the vampire death dealer Selene, who escapes imprisonment to find herself in a world where humans have discovered the existence of both vampire and lycan clans, and are conducting an all-out war to eradicate both immortal species.[4]

Selene also learns that she has a hybrid daughter born while she was imprisoned, who has the ability to see through her parents' eyes. The same goes for Selene, who has the ability to see through the child's eyes and uses it to find her daughter several times in the movie.

Underworld: Blood Wars (2016)[edit]

On August 27, 2014, Lakeshore Entertainment announced plans to reboot the franchise. Cory Goodman was hired to write the script for the first film. Tom Rosenberg and Gary Lucchesi would be producers.[5] Later it was confirmed not to be a reboot but another entry in the series.[citation needed] The fifth film, originally tentatively titled Underworld: Next Generation, was in production with Kate Beckinsale reprising her role as Selene and Anna Foerster set to direct the fifth film in Prague in October. Theo James was set to reprise his role as David from the fourth film as the new lead, "but my involvement in it is... I think it's going to be very difficult to do that with these [Divergent] movies, and my other commitments." James is still in the film to fulfill an option agreement.[6][7][8] It was announced by Deadline that Tobias Menzies was cast as Marius, a mysterious new Lycan leader who'd more than likely go toe-to-toe with Selene and her vampire clan.[9][10] In September 2015, Deadline reported that Bradley James was hired as the villain, Clementine Nicholson as Lena, the Nordic Coven's greatest warrior and daughter of Vidar and Lara Pulver as Semira.[11][12][13]

The film was released internationally on November 24, 2016, and in the United States on January 6, 2017.


In 2017, Wiseman revealed that a sixth film is also in development with Beckinsale reprising her role as Selene.[14] On September 13, 2018, Beckinsale said she will not appear in the sixth film, stating: "I wouldn't return. I've done plenty of those".[15]

Animated film[edit]

Underworld: Endless War (2011)[edit]

Underworld: Endless War is a 2011 animated film, which includes three parts beginning in 1890 and leading up to the events of Underworld: Awakening. The film follows Selene as she hunts down a group of three Lycan brothers in three separate time periods.


In January 2016, Wiseman announced that an Underworld television series was in development.[16]

Cast and crew[edit]


  • A Y indicates the actor portrayed the role of a younger version of the character.
  • An O indicates a role as an older version of the character.
  • A V indicates the actor or actress lent only his or her voice for his or her film character.
  • A C indicates a cameo appearance.
  • An A indicates an appearance through archival footage.
  • A dark gray cell indicates the character was not in the film.
Characters Films Animated film
Underworld Underworld: Evolution Underworld: Rise of the Lycans Underworld: Awakening Underworld: Blood Wars Underworld: Endless War
2003 2006 2009 2012 2016 2011


Kate Beckinsale Kate Beckinsale
Lily Mo SheenY
Kate BeckinsaleA Kate Beckinsale Laura HarrisV


Bill Nighy   Bill NighyA  


Michael Sheen Michael SheenA Michael Sheen
Alexander CarrollY
  Michael SheenA  


Shane Brolly Shane BrollyV   Shane BrollyA Trevor DevallV

Michael Corvin

Scott Speedman   Scott SpeedmanA
(Archive footage & likeness imposed on a stand-in)
Trent Garrett
(Motion capture and prosthetics)
Scott SpeedmanA
Mark OliverV


Sophia Myles Sophia MylesA  


Kevin Grevioux   Kevin Grevioux  


Zita Görög   Sveta Driga
Zita GörögA


Scott McElroy   Scott McElroyA  


Jázmin Damek   Rhona Mitra
Olivia TaylforthY
Kahn Robbie Gee  


Erwin Leder  

Andreas Tanis

  Steven Mackintosh  

Markus Corvinus

  Tony Curran   Tony CurranA  

Alexander Corvinus

  Derek Jacobi  

William Corvinus

  Brian Steele   Brian SteeleA  

Detective Sebastian

  Michael Ealy  


  India Eisley India EisleyA
(Archive footage & likeness imposed on a stand-in)


  Theo James  


  Charles Dance  

Dr. Jacob Lane

  Stephen Rea  

Quint Lane

  Kris Holden-Ried  


  Tobias Menzies  


  Lara Pulver  
Darius   Trevor DevallV
Vregis   Brian DobsonV
Krandrill   Paul DobsonV
Lord Clovis   Trevor DevallV


Occupation Film
Underworld Underworld: Evolution Underworld: Rise of the Lycans Underworld: Awakening Underworld: Blood Wars
2003 2006 2009 2012 2016
Director Len Wiseman Patrick Tatopoulos Måns Mårlind
Björn Stein
Anna Foerster
Producers Tom Rosenberg
Gary Lucchesi
Richard Wright
Tom Rosenberg
Eric Reid
Gary Lucchesi
David Coatsworth
Richard Wright
Tom Rosenberg
Eric Reid
Len Wiseman
Gary Lucchesi
Richard Wright
Tom Rosenberg
Len Wiseman
Gary Lucchesi
Richard Wright
Kern Eric Reid
Screenwriter(s) Danny McBride Danny McBride
Dirk Blackman
Howard McCain
Len Wiseman
John Hlavin
J. Michael Straczynski
Allison Burnett
Cory Goodman
Story by Len Wiseman
Kevin Grevioux
Danny McBride
Len Wiseman
Danny McBride
Len Wiseman
Robert Orr
Danny McBride
Len Wiseman
John Hlavin
Kyle Ward
Cory Goodman
Composer Paul Haslinger Marco Beltrami Paul Haslinger Michael Wandmacher
Editor Martin Hunter Nicholas Del Toth Peter Amundson
Eric Potter
Jeff McEvoy Peter Amundson
Cinematographer Tony Pierce-Roberts Simon Duggan Ross Emery Scott Kevan Karl Walter Lindenlaub
Production company Lakeshore Entertainment Lakeshore Entertainment
Sketch Films
Distributor Screen Gems
Release date September 19, 2003 January 20, 2006 January 23, 2009 January 20, 2012 November 24, 2016
Running time 121 minutes 106 minutes 92 minutes 89 minutes 91 minutes



In September 2003, shortly after the release of Underworld, production companies Screen Gems and Lakeshore planned to release a prequel as the third film following Underworld's sequel, Underworld: Evolution. Kate Beckinsale, who portrayed Selene in Underworld, expressed interest in reprising her role for the sequel and the prequel.[17]

In December 2005, Underworld: Evolution director Len Wiseman explained that the Underworld franchise was originally conceived as a trilogy. Wiseman said: "We sort of mapped out an entire history and story... a massive collection of ideas and stories that we're putting out at certain times." Wiseman anticipated creating a third installment for the franchise based on the audiences' reception of Underworld: Evolution, which would be released the following month.[18]

In a June 2006 interview, Wiseman said, "The third film is going to be a prequel. It will be the origin story and we find out things we didn't know about Lucian; he'll have a much bigger part in it. It will be about the creation [of the races] and what started the war. It will be a period piece. The movie will also focus for the first time through the Lycans' point of view." The director also shared, "In terms of the writing, a lot of the writing has been done. We've been developing Underworld 3 for a while. I won't be directing Underworld: Rise of the Lycans; I'm just going to be producing and writing." When asked if Kate Beckinsale would reprise her role as Selene in the prequel, Wiseman said, "It will be in the time period before, but it will overlap into the creation of her as well. We're in the process of seeing how far we go with that."[19] The following October, actor Michael Sheen, who portrays Lucian in the film series, expressed interest in being part of the prequel.[20]

The Hollywood Reporter announced that the film would be written by Danny McBride and mark the directorial début of Patrick Tatopoulos, who designed the creature effects for all three Underworld films. Len Wiseman would produce, and contribute to the writing of this film, but would not direct, nor would Kate Beckinsale reprise her lead role of Selene nor would Scott Speedman reprise his role of Michael. In late September 2007, Outlander scribes Dirk Blackman and Howard McCain were brought on board and delivered a draft on November 3, mere days before the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike.[21] Pre-production began shortly thereafter.

"It's like putting your wedding dress on, or putting your school uniform on, it's like a time-warp feeling."

Kate Beckinsale, about her return as Selene.[22]

The prequel film was shot in Auckland, New Zealand and in Roxboro, North Carolina. There is a brief pickup shot of Tenaya Lake in Yosemite National Park as well.

Filming for Underworld: Awakening began in March 2011 at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia. Underworld: Awakening is the first movie to be shot using RED EPIC digital cameras in 3D.[22]


Box office performance[edit]

Film Release date Box office gross Box office ranking Budget Reference
North America Other
Worldwide All time
North America
Underworld September 19, 2003 $51,970,690 $43,737,767 $95,708,457 #1,382 $22 million [23][24]
Underworld: Evolution January 20, 2006 $62,318,875 $49,021,926 $111,340,801 #1,122 $45 million [23][25]
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans January 23, 2009 $45,802,315 $45,282,848 $91,085,163 #1,582 $35 million [23][26]
Underworld: Awakening January 20, 2012 $62,321,039 $97,791,632 $160,112,671 #1,121 $70 million [23][27]
Underworld: Blood Wars November 24, 2016 $30,353,973 $50,739,340 $81,093,313 #2,499 $35 million [23][28]
Total $252,766,892 $286,573,513 $539,340,405 $207 million

Critical and public response[edit]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore
Underworld 31% (161 reviews)[29] 42 (34 reviews)[30] B+[31]
Underworld: Evolution 17% (103 reviews)[32] 36 (21 reviews)[33] B+[31]
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans 29% (76 reviews)[34] 44 (14 reviews)[35] B+[31]
Underworld: Awakening 27% (75 reviews)[36] 39 (17 reviews)[37] A-[31]
Underworld: Blood Wars 19% (94 reviews)[38] 21 (10 reviews)[39] B+[31]

Other media and crossovers[edit]

There have been various spin-offs and tie-ins in a range of other media. IDW Publishing has published a number of Underworld comics, including Underworld: Red in Tooth and Claw, and also an adaptation of the third film Rise of the Lycans written by Kevin Grevioux which was published and released in 2009.[40] In addition to the novelizations of Underworld and Underworld: Evolution, there is an original novel written by Greg Cox, published by Pocket Star Books in 2004, titled Underworld: Blood Enemy; written before Evolution, it depicts an alternate origin to the war, based on such details as Sonja's initial portrayal as a blonde in flashbacks.

In September 2003, Sony contracted with Black Widow Games for the production of Underworld: Bloodline (a Half-Life mod).[41] An action video game based on the first film entitled The Eternal War was scheduled for release on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox consoles in 2004, but it only saw release for the PlayStation 2 in Europe, and was cancelled in all other regions.[42]

In 2014, crossover film with the film I, Frankenstein and its planned sequels was planned by Kevin Grevioux, creator of the I, Frankenstein graphic novel. He stated in a pre-release interview that, in an early draft of his screenplay, Beckinsale would have made a post-credit cameo appearance as Selene and that there would have been Underworld easter eggs, but none of this was used.[43]

In 2016, producer David Kern revealed that a crossover film with the Resident Evil film series had also been considered. In October 2016, Kate Beckinsale stated that a separate crossover film between the Blade series and Underworld had been discussed as a sequel to Blade: Trinity with Snipes returning, but was declined because Marvel Studios had plans to implement the character into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.[44]


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  44. ^ Jayson, Jay (October 7, 2016). "Marvel Is Doing Something With Blade According To Kate Beckinsale". ComicBook.com.

External links[edit]