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Thursday, August 24, 2023

‘Thirteen Ghosts: The Series’ – Dark Castle Hopes to Further Explore the World of the 2001 Horror Movie

When it was released back in 2001, Dark Castle Entertainment’s remake Thirteen Ghosts (stylized as Thir13en Ghosts) didn’t exactly set the box office on fire, scaring up just $68 million worldwide on a sizable production budget of $42 million. Reviews for the film were also largely negative at the time, making it both a financial as well as a critical misfire.

But the times, well, they have changed. Like many horror movies over the years, director Steve Beck’s Thirteen Ghosts has been re-evaluated in the two decades since its original theatrical release, becoming something of a fan favorite here in 2023. Fans have come to appreciate the gruesome effects, the big budget production design, and the titular monsters themselves, which came equipped with their own backstories thanks to a DVD special feature that we’ve written about in the past. And it’s safe to say Dark Castle has noticed this renewed interest.

From what we’ve been told, Dark Castle views Thirteen Ghosts as the “Crown Jewel of their library,” as well as “a property that is long overdue for a resurrection.”

In fact, you may have seen a report on Dread Central earlier this month that teased an upcoming Thirteen Ghosts television series, which is “reportedly in development” at this time.

The proposed project comes courtesy of Patrick Mediate (Primordial Pictures), Aaron McLane (VFX Supervisor, Fear the Walking Dead), and Ashley Robinson (co-producer, Fear the Walking Dead), Dread Central notes in their exclusive report, with the trio working in direct conjunction with Dark Castle Entertainment on an extensive pitch that will essentially allow each of the film’s ghosts to get their own episode of a TV series.

Mediate and McLane told Dread Central for their exclusive report, “Every culture in the world has its ghost stories, and this re-imagining of 13 Ghosts presents an international sampling of these supernatural tales. The ghost stories within each episode will have their own stylistic look and feel that will be explored and influenced by each individual director. This makes our ghost vignettes stand out stylistically as they set the theme for each episode.”

So what’s the deal here and how likely is this project to actually get off the ground? Bloody Disgusting hopped on the phone last week to pick Patrick Mediate’s brain a little bit more.

Thirteen Ghosts series dark castle

For starters, Mediate made it a point to mention the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, which have ensured that no forward momentum on their proposed Thirteen Ghosts series is able to happen at this time. But once those strikes come to an end, Mediate, McLane, Robinson, and Dark Castle Entertainment will be hitting the ground running and pitching away.

Even once the strikes clear, however, there’s a pretty major hurdle for the team to overcome. Sony currently owns a portion of the rights to Thirteen Ghosts, and without Sony’s approval, Dark Castle is unable to actually bring this planned television series to life. So while the team at Dark Castle is all-in and ready to go, the ball is going to end up in Sony’s court.

From what we’ve been told, the project was actually pitched to Sony shortly before the WGA strike began, but again, there can be no forward momentum on those talks at this time.

Mediate explains to Bloody Disgusting, “Having Dark Castle’s support and blessing is only one part of the equation since Sony Pictures Television owns 50% of the rights. Right now the future of this being a series at all is completely in Sony’s court as we pitched to them right before the strike occurred.”

If Sony and Dark Castle can come to some kind of agreement – either Sony joins forces with Dark Castle on the series or they merely give Dark Castle the green light to do what they wish with the property – the plan on Dark Castle’s side is to essentially use the ending of the 2001 movie as the springboard for a deep dive into the mythology of each of the monsters. As you may recall, the ghosts are freed at the end of the movie, and they walk off into the woods. The series pitch from Mediate’s team would shine individual spotlights on each of those characters.

Additionally, Bloody Disgusting has been told that the fan-favorite character known as The Jackal would be a major player in the series, and the plan is to also delve into the creation of the machine that was built to contain the various ghosts, known as the Basileus Machine, as well as the ancient book that served as the film’s Necronomicon, the Arcanum.

Mediate elaborates, “It had always been clear to us that there was so much to be explored in the backgrounds of the ghosts so it’s only natural that we created each episode to explore and examine their origin stories, personalities, plights, and fates. These stories act as through-lines that intertwine with the mysterious legacy of Cyrus Kriticos and his present extended family, who have just become caretakers of the Kriticos Compound.”

“One of the incredible things about unconventionally structuring the narrative in this way is that we can cleverly, and oftentimes surprisingly, have the ghosts’ pasts actually influence all of the parallel narratives that unfold throughout each episode which we feel will offer a fresh, extremely unique storytelling experience for the viewer,” he continues.

Mediate also teased an AR component to the series, which sounds like something original 13 Ghosts director William Castle would be playing with if he were alive today. The concept would be for AR technology to allow fans to invite the show’s ghosts into their own home, playing with the “Ghost Viewer” gimmick that was employed in both the 1960 and 2001 movies.

The team’s “comprehensive development deck” for the series also touches upon plans for subsequent seasons of the series, even if that’s a cart-before-the-horse situation at this time.

Mediate tells us, “We do envision an entire universe for the 13 Ghosts: The Series franchise that lives on eternally after the first season and goes on to explore different planes of mortal and Post-Mortal realities; it’s actually going to be something pretty profound that could be an enormous testament to the worlds we lay the groundwork for with the first season. Long and short, this is absolutely going to be a series with stories and three dimensional characters that fans are going to want to join up with for multiple seasons.”

The good news here is that Dark Castle Entertainment is looking to return to the horror genre in a big way, not only with the planned Thirteen Ghosts series but also with potential revivals of other properties in their catalogue. The company recently released 2021’s Seance and 2022’s Orphan: First Kill, and those look to be the beginning of a revival for the brand.

Dark Castle was formed in 1998, originally with the intention of remaking William Castle horror classics for modern audiences. Horror films made under the Dark Castle umbrella include House on Haunted Hill (1999), Thirteen Ghosts (2001), Ghost Ship (2002), Gothika (2003), House of Wax (2005), Orphan (2009), The Hills Run Red (2009), and Splice (2010).

Would you like to see a Thirteen Ghosts television series from Dark Castle in the near future? Again, the ball is in Sony’s court. So if you want to see it, you know who to demand it from.

The team tells Bloody Disgusting, “We’re hopeful that when the strike ends we can bolster up enough support to get the series completely greenlit with a solid distributor so the fans need to make it known that they want this vision and want this as a series now more than ever.”

Mediate ends our conversation with a promise to the fans of Thirteen Ghosts.

“As a united force with Dark Castle who firmly stand behind our vision, we want to be sure this series respects and pays homage to the deep roots of the original William Castle cult classic and its enormous existing fan base, while reinventing its ensemble of characters and narrative arcs to propel the property into the 21st century to give attract a whole new universe of fans.”

Thirteen Ghosts series tv

The post ‘Thirteen Ghosts: The Series’ – Dark Castle Hopes to Further Explore the World of the 2001 Horror Movie appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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