As much as we might like to think of shared cinematic universes as being very much an invention of the 21st century, Universal were the first to do it way back in 1943. when ‘Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man’ brought two of their iconic monsters together.
Further Universal monster movies would follow suit in the 1940s - and now, the studio are in the process of bringing that universe back to life, having started the ball rolling (however tenuously) with last year’s ‘Dracula Untold.’
Screenwriter Alex Kurtzman, set to make his directorial debut with the 2017 reboot of ‘The Mummy,’ is heading up the team of writers crafting this new shared universe, and he’s shed a little light on how things are going to Collider.
“The monster universe is coming together very very quickly, we’re very excited. There will be announcements soon. We have actually started doing a lot of design work, we’re getting scripts in, everything is feeling really really good, so I don’t want to curse it by saying too much to you, but it’s going well.”
Kurtzman also commented on the shock wave Universal sent through fandom earlier this year when the studio officially described their new monster universe as “action-adventure,” with no mention of horror. Monster devotees were naturally alarmed by this, and Kurtzman says he can appreciate why.
“Yeah, I think it’s a fair response… I think there was some lost in translation quality to the way it was received, because I promise you there will be horror in these movies. It is our life goal to make a horror movie. The tricky part is actually how you combine horror with either adventure or suspense or action and be true to all the genres together.
“In some way, ‘Mummy,’ dating all the way back to the Karloff movie, was the first to do that. It was the first to combine horror with — I wouldn’t say action, but certainly a lot of suspense. So it’s more about how you blend the different elements and stay true to each one, but there will definitely be horror in the monster movies…We will hopefully serve it up good and plenty.”
Kurtzman is the third director attached to this latest take on ‘The Mummy,’ after Len Wiseman and Andrés Muschietti (the latter of whom has since boarded New Line’s Stephen King adaptation ‘It’). Unlike the earlier films with Brendan Fraser, this new film will be set in the present day, and may centre on US soldiers accidentally unearthing mummies in the middle east. Beyond this, little is known.
Indeed, not a great deal is known about Universal’s broader plans for their monster movie universe either. Fresh takes on all the classics including ‘Frankenstein,’ ‘The Wolf Man,’ ‘The Creature from the Black Lagoon,’ a ‘Dracula Untold’ sequel, and of course ultimately crossover films - potentially including a ‘Van Helsing’ reboot - are all likely, but none have been officially confirmed.
Still, Kurtzman insists work is in progress with a large team of writers, though unsurprisingly he won’t reveal who’s doing what.
Likening the atmosphere to his time working in TV writer’s rooms, Kurtzman says, “it’s great when you have a group of writers who are talented in their own right coming together to build a world. We very carefully selected writers who — each of them have their own incredible careers. All of them we admire hugely.
“Chris Morgan is my partner in this and we all picked people that we’ve worked with before, people that we really liked, people whose work we admired, people that we didn’t know, and really thought long and hard about which writers felt right for each monster.
“So our goal is to have each movie retain the identity and the individuality of the specific monster, but you’ll see how they start to fit into a larger universe as the movies unravel.”
‘The Mummy’ is due in cinemas 24 March 2017, with another, as-yet unknown Universal monster movie scheduled for later that year.
Picture Credit: Universal, WENN