Kate Beckinsale is contractually obligated to appear in the fourth Underworld film, according to the folks at Bloody-Disgusting. And while this move may help her career — which seems to be floundering around since the releases of Whiteout and Everybody’s Fine — sources are telling BD that Beckinsale is looking for a way out. If she can’t find a way out of the film, which is set to release on January 21, 2011, she will likely opt for a smaller role that will “pass the torch” to one of her kin. For those who might have missed the last three films, Beckinsale’s character Selene does have a few kids at this point.

According to screenwriter John Hlavin (talking to Heat Vision), the film will not be a prequel. “It will satisfy old fans and excite new audiences,” he explained. “Meaning that we don’t want to redo the first three movies, so steps are being taken to honor what fans have loved but at the same time introduce fresh elements.” This makes sense if we’re talking Beckinsale, as her character was years from being born in the context of the most recent film, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans.

The questions that remain include that of a director. A Variety report hints at Len Wiseman coming back to direct the fourth film into the third dimension, but there has been no official word from Lakeshore Entertainment. It is safe to assume that we will be hearing from them soon though, if they plan to get this thing ready for its January 2011 release.

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