Universal got into the cinematic universe game in 2017 with its Dark Universe, a franchise meant to unite the studio's biggest and most popular monsters in one cohesive world. The saga had a rocky start with The Mummy, though. Despite its inherent brand recognition and Tom Cruise's star power, the film became a critical and financial failure, getting a Rotten Tomatoes score of 16 percent and underperforming domestically.
Still, fans were optimistic, and most of us held out hope for the franchise's next installment, Bride of Frankenstein, starring #JavierBardem as Frankenstein's monster and tentatively Angelina Jolie as the titular character. Director #BillCondon (Beauty and the Beast) started working on the pre-production process.
The film was scheduled for a February 14, 2019 release date, and things seemed to be going great overall for a few months. Unfortunately, it looks like the Bride has encountered some major trouble on her way to the big screen.
The Bride Of Frankenstein Movie Isn't Alive ... For Now, At Least
In a move that will disappointment quite a few diehard monster fans, Universal has taken #BrideOfFrankenstein off of the calendar. According to a statement by the studio released alongside the announcement, the movie needed some more time in development before being ready for a worldwide release:
"After thoughtful consideration, Universal Pictures and director Bill Condon have decided to postpone 'Bride of Frankenstein.' None of us want to move too quickly to meet a release date when we know this special movie needs more time to come together. Bill is a director whose enormous talent has been proven time and again, and we all look forward to continuing to work on this film together."
While it's great to see the studio reaching out to its audience, as opposed to keeping us guessing about what happened, this move could be a bad omen for the film. We've seen numerous other high-profile projects like The Batman, Gambit and The Flash get delayed to be reshaped, and none of them have seen the light of day or experienced a major development that could put them in theaters sooner rather than later.
Now, it could be argued that the change in direction was done in response to #TheMummy's poor reception. But here's the thing: the announcement is still quite puzzling because during an interview with Collider, Condon seemed to be very happy with the movie. The director gushed about David Koepp's screenplay, going as far as to compare it to James Whale's original work:
"What I love about David Koepp's script is he turns everything on its head. This is Eve before Adam, the bride comes first. So in its own way — you know, we all know the Bride only exists for 10 minutes in the [James] Whale movie; she's there and the movie's over. So I keep thinking [it's], in a way, at least a tribute to what Whale might have done if he’d made a third Frankenstein movie and he’d done it in the 21st Century."
Aside from the troubled development process itself, you may be wondering what's going on with the cast. According to Deadline, even though Javier Bardem and #AngelinaJolie are both interested in working on the project, neither of them are officially signing on until David Koepp finishes his drafts.
All of this information has me wondering something...
What's Happening With The Dark Universe Now?
I have no shame in admitting that I'm one of the few people who actually has faith in this monster franchise. However, I can't deny that things aren't looking so great now, because this is yet another hiccup in the Dark Universe's road to mainstream success.
Cracks started to show back in August, when the main mind behind the franchise, #AlexKurtzman, stated he just wasn't sure whether he'd stay with the saga for future installments: "You know the truth is, I don't know. I really don't know. I haven't really decided. Is the honest answer."
Months after that statement, during Bill Condon's aforementioned interview with Collider, the director was asked about Bride of Frankenstein's ties to the larger Dark Universe. Surprisingly, Condon said that the film would be its own thing:
"I will tell you this — what I'm doing is 100% making a really good monster movie. It has nothing to do with anything else. Nothing. Zero."
Admittedly, he could have been referring to creating a tale that stood on its own without depending on a bigger storyline, despite the fact that it's set in a shared universe. But his comments could also be taken as Universal not being so sure of continuing Dark Universe with the future of so many potential franchises riding on it.
This franchise has always been a risky venture. While uniting pop culture and literature's most beloved monsters in one world sounds like a good idea on paper, people's interest in frightening creatures isn't a sure thing. Taking that into consideration, I'm crossing my fingers for the saga to find its stride.
I was particularly excited for Bride of Frankenstein, so hopefully Condon, Koepp and Universal find the right way to approach the project and give us an amazing film that manages to return these monsters to their former glory.
What do you make of the trouble plaguing the Bride of Frankenstein? Do you still have hope for the Dark Universe? Let me know what you think in the comments!