Ever since Marvel's experimental shared universe plans succeeded beyond all expectations after it began with Iron Man (2008) and culminated with the much anticipated The Avengers (2012), every other studio wanted a piece of the lucrative shared universe pie. While other comic book publishers like DC and Valiant were expected to follow Marvel's footsteps, no one expected these genres to give their properties the multiverse shot.
Barring superheroes and certain brands like the Star Wars franchise and Hasbro's glorified toy commercials which were expected to have shared universe plans anyway, these are the shared universes that no one saw coming. Keep in mind that all of these are currently in development, and their continuation or cancellation will depend on their movies' success or failure.
After multiple failed attempts to get a third movie on track and with the untimely death of Harold Raimis (Egon Spengler in the original movies), the Ghostbusters franchise saw new life through means of a lackluster reboot that received more hate than warranted.
Hungry for a shared universe after losing sole custody of the Spider-Man rights to Marvel, Sony created the production banner Ghost Corps with the intention of creating an endless series of Ghostbusters movies that would create a larger story when viewed as a whole. Among the planned entries was a new male Ghostbusters team starring Channing Tatum and Chris Pratt but thanks to the polarizing reception of Ghostbusters (2016) and its weak box office gross, the Ghostbusters franchise may return to the cinematic purgatory where it laid dormant for so long.
4. Universal Monsters
During the height of the horror movie remake craze in the early 2000's, Universal Studios decided that it was time audiences saw classic monsters like Dracula and the Wolfman return to the big screen. To accomplish this and hopefully attract the interest of a younger audience, Universal retooled their classic monster line-up to fit an action packed shared universe format.
Their first entry was the critically panned Dracula Untold (2014) which despite earning a modest box office return, is all but forgotten in the public eye. Much of the criticism lied in the movie's choice to restyle itself into a medieval epic instead of being a straightforward vampire movie, forcing Universal to rethink its plans. The coming Universal monster themed follow-up, The Mummy (2017) reboot starring Tom Cruise, is expected to address this issue by being a modernized monster movie. The Mummy's performance at the box office will determine the fates of future Universal Monsters entries, such as The Invisible Man and Bride of Frankenstein which star Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie respectively.
3. 2000's Horror Movies
Some of the first shared universes can actually be found in the horror genre and thanks to public's renewed interest in shitting their pants in a cinema, production companies such as Blumhouse Productions (Paranormal Activity, The Purge) are finding ways to bridge their nightmares into a collective fright fest.
Blumhouse already began by planting connections between Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015) and Sinister 2 (2015) while The Conjuring movies plan to expand its universe by giving movies to each of the popular ghosts in its entries, starting off with the creepy doll that appeared for a split second in The Conjuring (2013) named Annabelle (2014) and The Nun, starring the Devil Nun from The Conjuring 2 (2016). But due to the negative critical response these spin-offs received, their respective production companies have slowed down and decided to wait for their next test projects to yield the desired results before moving forward.
2. Indiana Jones
Almost every popular thing George Lucas has made may be owned by Disney but one property no one was expecting to be expanded into a shared universe is the Indiana Jones series. While it may make sense for Star Wars due to the existence of its very own Expanded Universe that spreads into multiple timelines throughout galactic history, Indiana Jones is a straightforward adventure themed story starring the world's most violent archaeologist.
Shared universes feature prequels, sequels, origin stories for new characters and different perspectives of the same unifying event, all of which makes the idea of an Indiana Jones themed shared universe strange given the title's limited number of complex side characters, the existence of its own prequel series and the fact that it can stand on its own as a trilogy with a poorly received fourth entry. Simply put, new Indiana Jones movies starring Harrison Ford make more sense than trying to branch out and give someone like Mutt (Shia LaBeouf) a movie of his own but if Disney CEO Bob Iger has his way, we may be seeing more Indy than expected.
1. Classic Literature
When authors from the days of knights and medieval chivalry wrote their stories, none of them did so with the intention of setting up a franchise but we live in the days of the shared universe so of course the likes of King Arthur and Robin Hood are going to get their own shared universe franchises.
Despite the two British legends suffering unimpressive adaptations from the previous decade and even if both stories have a multitude of side characters who have since become the basis for countless stereotypes in any story that features a band of heroes, the studios owning their respective rights are more than confident that they can rekindle audience interest in these old heroes.
The true wielder of Excalibur will be getting a head start through Guy Ritche's (Snatch, Sherlock Holmes) King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2016) which will be the first of six confirmed movies set in the world of Camelot while Robin Hood and his Band of Merry Men are slated for a shared universe in a franchise entitled Hood, which will be set in Sherwood Forest where each character in Robin Hood's group is slated to receive a movie dedicated to their story.