Jackman's Movie Creates Its Own Monster

04/06/2004 2:49PM

Hugh Jackman practically carries the entire Broadway musical "The Boy from Oz" on his back, but now the "X-Men" hunk is about to have a lot riding on his new movie, "Van Helsing."

According to its studio, Universal, next month's $150 million screen adventure -- in which Jackman, 35, plays the famous vampire fighter who also encounters such classic movie monsters as Frankenstein's creation and the Wolf Man -- will also inspire several related spinoffs.

These include an NBC dramatic fantasy series to be called "Transylvania"; the DVD release of the original "Dracula," "Frankenstein" and "The Wolf Man"; an interactive "Van Helsing" game for PlayStation 2 and Xbox; Universal theme park attractions in Florida and California and an animated DVD adventure featuring the voice of Jackman.

"There's so much riding on this movie," Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box-office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations, tells the Los Angeles Times.

The movie "Van Helsing" opens May 7, while NBC's spinoff series could premiere as early as this fall.

The Times, noting that Universal had a dog last summer with "The Hulk," says the studio is being careful not to oversell "Van Helsing," though the company has reportedly spent more than $30 million to heighten consumer awareness of it -- and bought TV ad time during last February's Super Bowl.

"Obviously, this is an extremely important movie," Scott Stuber, vice chairman of worldwide production at Universal Pictures, tells the Times. "We're confident we've got a terrific film."

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