• Director: Chris McKay
  • Release: April 14, 2023
  • Studio: Universal


Nicolas Cage


Nicholas Hoult




Ben Schwartz

Not that he ever went anywhere, but Nicolas Cage is back. The star, who plays himself and his alter-ego Nicky in the wildly funny meta film, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, is back in the spotlight, though he has never drifted too far away from the shine. After the massive success of his massive talent, Cage finds himself taking on the role of one of the most iconic monster movie characters of all time, Dracula, in the Universal horror-comedy, Renfield.


Back in 2014, Universal Pictures was keen on resurrecting their classic movie monsters. Up until then, Universal was becoming more known for Jurassic Park, Despicable Me, and The Fast and the Furious franchises but for years had wanted to jump back into what helped them make their name – monsters.

These included Count Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Creature of the Black Lagoon, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, and The Mummy.

Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan were tapped by Universal to begin working on a blueprint that would see all these monsters brought back in one form or another.

From that, the duo came up with the Dark Universe, the overall title that would usher in these monsters’ return. The Mummy, with Tom Cruise, came first but it also became the death knell for the Dark Universe idea as the film was hit with terrible reviews and box office numbers.

Moving away from the Dark Universe, Universal had better success when it gave The Invisible Man to Leigh Whannell, who teamed up with Blumhouse to make a scary and thrilling movie that breathed new life into the Universal monsters.

So, where does Renfield fit into these monster movie plans? Renfield isn’t Frankenstein or The Wolf Man. He certainly isn’t the Creature of the Black Lagoon. How does this film work its way into the pantheon of Universal Monster Movies?


For those who follow Count Dracula lore, Renfield is Dracula’s familiar. He is a devoted servant and because of this devotion, he is also deranged. First appearing in Bram Stoker’s 1897 horror novel, Dracula, Renfield has been seen in films a number of times.

In Tod Browning’s classic 1931 film, Dracula, Renfield was played by Dwight Frye. Since that time, the part has been played by Klaus Kinski, Jack Shepherd, Tony Haygarth, Roland Topor, Arte Johnson, Tom Waits, and Peter MacNicol. There have been others, but this is the first time a movie is featured around the character.

Now, Nicholas Hoult steps into the role of Dracula’s henchman. Hoult, who has made his name in films such as Clash of the Titans, X-Men: First Class, Jack the Giant Slayer, Mad Max: Fury Road, X-Men: Apocalypse, Tolkien, and Those Who Wish Me Dead will play the title role, finding himself acting opposite the sometimes unpredictable Cage.


Most films that have centered around Count Dracula have gone the “period” route. They typically take us back in time when castles were king, and Dracula ruled his. They were turn-of-the-century fare and Renfield, along with Jonathan Harker, Mina, Lucy Westenra, and of course, Van Helsing, all have to deal with the bloodsucker.

This film will not be taking place during the turn of the century. Instead, Renfield will find Nicholas Hoult in the present day, still doing the bidding for Nicolas Cage’s Dracula.

But the present-day also finds Renfield growing tired of Dracula’s endless bidding. Renfield finds a new lease on life when he meets a feisty traffic cop. In this way, it looks like Renfield will go more a fish-out-of-water, classic comedy route than anything else.


So, we know Nic Cage is on board as Dracula and we know that Nick Hoult will be playing the title character, but who else will be joining them in the horror-comedy? Awkwafina is on board as Rebecca Quincy, the feisty cop that Renfield falls for.

Also on board are Ben Schwartz, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Adrian Martinez, Caroline Williams, and William Ragsdale, who some of you may remember from the original vampire horror film, Fright Night and its sequel, Fright Night 2.


The idea for Renfield came from an original story outline by Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead). Ryan Ridley turned Kirkman’s story into the script that Universal gave to Chris McKay (The Tomorrow War) to direct.

McKay is also on board as one of the film’s producers along with his producing partner, Samantha Nisenboim. Joining them will be Kirkman, David Alpert, Bryan Furst, and Sean Furst, who are all part of Skybound Entertainment.


Of course, the big name on set, which recently wrapped as noted by a Universal Pictures tweet, is Nicolas Cage. His resurrection (not that he had gone anywhere) is at the center of Renfield as many are looking forward to just what his portrayal of Dracula is going to look like. Cage discussed this and how he took the many different iterations of the character and turned them into his own.

“I can tell you that it’s amazing. It’s a really fun and exciting opportunity,” Cage explained on Variety’s Awards Circuit podcast. “I looked at Bela Lugosi’s performance, and then I looked at Frank Langella’s performance. I looked at Gary [Oldman]’s performance in [Cage’s uncle Francis Ford Coppola’s] movie, which I think it’s just so sumptuous. Every frame is a work of art.”

Then Cage discussed how he hopes to make this version of Dracula like something never seen before. His plan was to focus on how Dracula moves and likened it to what he saw in the horror film Malignant. Uh oh.

“I want it to pop in a unique way from how we’ve seen it played. So I’m thinking to really focus on the movement of the character. You know, I saw Malignant and I thought what she did with those moves — and even Ringu with Sadako [Yamamura] … I want to look at what we can explore with this movement and voice.”

But cage also wanted to remind fans that Renfield is a horror-comedy and tried to emphasize the fun in the film. “What makes it super fun is that it’s a comedy. And when you get that tone right — comedy and horror — like American Werewolf in London, it’s a blast. It’s got to be a bullseye. But that’s what I’m looking for, something new to bring to the character, and also that perfect tone of comedy and horror.”

nicolas cage

There are reasons for everything in life and Nicolas Cage was put here to entertain. While he has done a yeoman’s job on the entertainment front, the rewards he has reaped over the years have not only been notable for their amount, but also for what Cage spent those rewards on.

At one point in his lengthy and popular career, Cage held a net worth of $150 million. It was well earned as fans flocked to his movies left and right. But along the way, Nicolas Cage the actor became Nicolas Cage the unhealthy spender. To say some of his purchases were “eccentric” would be like saying Nicolas Cage overacts from time to time.

Being a one-time top earner in Hollywood allowed Cage to make some highly questionable moves with his money. That $150 million didn’t last long as he quickly found himself facing foreclosure on several of his properties and owed the IRS $6.3 million in property taxes.

We say several properties because, at one time, Cage owned 15 residences that included a $15.7 million countryside estate in Newport, Rhode Island, an $8.5 million mansion in Las Vegas, and an immense waterfront home in Newport Beach, California worth $25 million. Yikes.

Eventually, though, it all came crashing down, which could also be the reason Cage found himself working constantly on B-movies. The bills and debt needed to be paid. It worked, because now an older, wiser, and hopefully thriftier Cage is sitting on a net worth of $25 million. With Renfield, that number should rise nicely.

FYI, in Cage’s heyday, his spending habits also bought him the infamous LaLaurie mansion in New Orleans, which has the reputation as the most haunted house in America. He also bought two castles in Europe, spending $10 million each on them. For $3 million, Cage purchased a deserted island in the Bahamas.


Thankfully, we do not have a long wait before we see what Nicolas Cage can do with Dracula. Renfield has been given an April 14, 2023 release date by Universal. No doubt it will be (and probably already is) one of the more highly-anticipated movies arriving in 2023 and with good reason.

Everyone loves a good horror comedy and when you bring back Nic Cage, not that he went anywhere, how can you not be excited about this film?


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