It looks as though Universal’s Monsters are in jeopardy…
Wolfman, Bride of Frankenstein and the Invisible Man were all supposed to be getting their own movies in the Dark Universe franchise… but now the creatives behind the project have been scared away.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, producers Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan have already abandoned the franchise following the appalling critical reception to ‘The Mummy’.
“Universal’s cinematic Dark Universe is in danger of being mummified,” they reveal. “Just five months after Universal released a much-discussed cast photo promising a slew of movies starring the likes of Johnny Depp, Russell Crowe and Javier Bardem – all drawn on characters like the Invisible Man, Wolf Man and Frankenstein in its stable of classic horror films – none of the projects appears to have a pulse.”
The big problem can be summed up in two words – ‘The Mummy’.
Although ‘The Mummy’ was intended to launch Universal’s ambitious ‘Dark Universe’ – a film franchise based around some of cinemas most iconic monsters – the move was met with a harsh critical reception.
In fact, it’s thought by many to be Tom Cruise’s worst film to date.
And the film’s meagre box office haul didn’t help either – earning just $409 million worldwide on a budget of £125 million.
And this seems to have given Universal cause to pull the plug on the entire franchise.
“In early October, Universal pulled the plug on preproduction that had started in London for Bride of Frankenstein – which was to have followed The Mummy as the second entry in the series – partly because execs felt the script by writer-director Bill Condon wasn’t ready.”
“Angelina Jolie had been courted for the lead but is now not attached. Insiders insist Condon (Beauty and the Beast) remains attached, but no date has been set to resume work, and a Feb. 14, 2019, release has been shelved.”
Now, to make matters worse, Kurtzman and Morgan are out, too.
“Writer-producers Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan, who were hired as the monster universe architects, have departed the franchise, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter. Kurtzman, whose deal with Universal lapsed in September, is focusing on television (he’s an executive producer on CBS All Access’ Star Trek: Discovery, and his overall deal with CBS involves more than a half-dozen shows), while Morgan has returned to the Fast and Furious franchise and is writing a spinoff for Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham.”
Worse still, the Monsters franchise was given its very own office on the Universal lot.
And now, after an expensive refit, the offices sit mostly empty.
But will Universal call time on the ailing franchise?
For now, that remains to be seen. It’s likely that the studio will reconsider its position when it comes to building a universe around these properties, and one of their better options would be to simply approach each movie on its own merits – making one film at a time.
Does this mean the ‘Dark Universe’ has already run its course?
That remains to be seen. But I get the feeling it’s not the last we’ve seen of Dracula, The Mummy, Wolf Man, Bride of Frankenstein or the Invisible Man.