Back in May, Universal officially announced the Dark Universe, a shared cinematic franchise that would put classic monsters like Dracula, the Invisible Man and the Bride of Frankenstein back in the spotlight. To the studio's misfortune, though, things didn't go as planned. The saga's first installment, The Mummy, became a flop, earning $409 million at on a budget that, accounting marketing costs, went well over the $200 million mark.
The film's disappointing outcome set off a chain of events that painted a dark picture for the would-be universe. Cracks started to show when Alex Kurtzman, one of the franchise's leading minds, stated that he wasn't sure about his commitment to future monster-themed films.
Shortly after that, in October, the studio announced that #BillCondon's Bride of Frankenstein was being taken off of its February 2019 release date to give the project a bit more development time. At the time, Universal assured audiences that this was just a small hiccup, but that wasn't the case...
The Dark Universe Is In Serious Trouble
The Hollywood Reporter has revealed that Chris Morgan and #AlexKurtzman, the creative pair responsible for the Dark Universe, have stepped away from the franchise to work on other projects. According to the site, Kurtzman is focusing on his duties as executive producer for CBS' Star Trek: Discovery. As for Morgan, he's writing Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson's upcoming Fast & Furious spinoff.
To Universal's misfortune, this shake-up wasn't the franchise's only problem. When #BrideOfFrankenstein was pushed back, it was revealed that Angelina Jolie, while not officially signed-on, had agreed to star in the film. Fans were excited to see her in the part, but as we just learned, she is no longer attached to the project.
As if that wasn't worrying enough, the Dark Universe's official headquarters in the Universal lot –– which the studio reportedly spent lots of money on –– are now empty.
So, What's Next For Universal's Monsters?
Surprisingly, all of those troubles aren't discouraging Universal to give its prolific catalogue of monsters a new shot. Peter Cramer, president of production for the studio, stated that they have no pressure in moving forward with other projects until the studio is sure each one has hit the right note:
"We've learned many lessons throughout the creative process on Dark Universe so far, and we are viewing these titles as filmmaker-driven vehicles, each with their own distinct vision. We are not rushing to meet a release date and will move forward with these films when we feel they are the best versions of themselves."
Now, despite that hopeful statement, we shouldn't expect to have a monster-themed cinematic universe anytime soon. As THR revealed, Universal is contemplating on offering its sci-fi properties to different directors (one of them being Paranormal Activity's #JasonBlum), with the intention to focus on one-off stories that aren't connected to other characters or stories.
What this new plan means for previously-planned films like The Invisible Man and Bride of Frankenstein is unclear at the moment, so we'll have to wait for the studio to further develop its strategy and release more information about it.
What do you think about the Dark Universe falling apart? Do you think Universal's monsters have a future on the big screen? Let me know in the comments!
[Source: The Hollywood Reporter]