Staying relevant in the movie industry in our tentpole-obsessed culture is a tough task. To keep up in such a competitive environment, Universal is developing the Dark Universe, a cinematic universe comprised of literature and film's classic monsters such as Frankenstein's Monster, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Invisible Man and the Mummy. The franchise will launch next month with #TheMummy, starring Tom Cruise and Annabelle Wallis with Sofia Boutella as the titular character.
The DU is an incredibly ambitious project with a lot of potential. But if you thought the universe was quite big as it is, get ready, because it might be a whole lot bigger than we originally imagined.
A Handful Of New Monsters Are Planned For The Dark Universe
The Mummy writer-producer Alex Kurtzman sat down for an interview with Fandom. During their talk, Kurtzman revealed Universal and the creative minds behind the franchise plan to eventually introduce three pivotal monsters from literature to the #DarkUniverse: Dracula, the Phantom of the Opera and Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame:
“We know we’re going to do Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Dracula, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Phantom of the Opera, Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Invisible Man.”
#Dracula is kind of a no-brainer, but I'm quite intrigued by the Phantom of the Opera and the #HunchbackOfNotreDame. They're characters with a lot of potential and I could totally see working with their backgrounds.
One of the more popular early monster movies was the 1925 adaptation of Gaston Leroux's Phantom of the Opera novel, starting Lon Chaney as the Phantom. It was one of the most famous performances for Chaney, known as the Man of a Thousand Faces for his impressive career. Coincidentally, Chaney was also the man to play Quasimodo in the first movie adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame two years before playing the Phantom.
If Universal plans to adapt Victor Hugo's novel for a modern movie, I'd be curious to see how Quasimodo goes on for future installments because...well, he had a pretty definitive end in the book. Let's just said the real story is a lot darker the the one most people know thanks to the animated Disney adaptation.
But that's not all the expanding the studio is looking forward to. Universal is also looking at an immense catalogue of monsters from around the world for new additions to its cinematic universe:
“There are characters within those films that can grow and expand and maybe even spin off. I think that digging into deep mythologies about monsters around the world is fair game for us, as well and connecting the monsters that we know to some surprising monsters could also be really interesting.”
So they're basically going to Supernatural this up is what he's saying. As a big monsters fan, that's an exciting prospect, but that's all assuming this franchise even successfully gets off the ground in the first place.
Will There Ever Be A Dark Universe Past 2017?
The Mummy has a big budget ($125 million, to be precise) so the movie has a lot to live up to in terms of box office returns as the beginning of a sprawling cinematic universe. #Universal likely won't move forward with the huge expansion plans if the #TomCruise-starring monster adventure has a disappointing outcome at the box office.
It might be difficult to picture the film not living up to expectations with Cruise at the helm, but it's a definite possibility. For starters, the actor is not as big of a draw as he was before. Case in point, last year, Cruise starred in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. Despite being the sequel to a highly successful film and having Cruise front and center, the movie earned a mere $161.5 million globally on a $96 million budget.
Taking that into consideration, one of the best things going for The Mummy right now in terms of popularity and profitability is its brand recognition. Unfortunately, that could also end up not being a sure bet. Modern retellings of classic films have been hit or miss at the box office, so whether the film's brand recognition manages to propel to success is a Frankenstein's Monster-size mystery right now.
Of course, keep in mind that's looking at the worst case scenario. Hopefully The Mummy finds an audience and becomes successful enough to justify bringing all these ghouls and monsters to the big screen once again.
The Mummy flies into theaters on June 9, 2017.
Do you think we'll ever get to see Dark Universe expand as planned or will it stop after The Mummy? Let me know in the comments?