The Dark Universe officially kicked off earlier this year with The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise as an adventure-junky and Sophia Boutella as the eponymous kal-eye-doscopic villain. However, plans for a cinematic universe featuring Universal's classic monster properties unofficially began much earlier with a similar box office stumble. Dracula Untold showed fans the previously "untold" story of the vampiric warlord, Vlad the Impaler, played by Luke Evans, and the actor is hopeful that his character can rise from the dead to join the rest of the monster mash in upcoming Dark Universe features.
The Professor Marston and the Wonder Women actor discussed the Dark Universe with Screen Rant:
“I think it definitely had a few flaws in it but I’ve had a lot of good feedback and I get people asking me will there we sequel [sic]. We left it very wide open, you know, this is a character who could transcend many different times and different periods of history. Who knows. I’d love to bring him back in some concept or context, but honestly, you know as little as I do when it comes with what is going in on the dream rooms of Universal Studios. I really don’t know.”
Will Dracula Join The Dark Universe?
Writer-producer of The Mummy and current overseer of the Dark Universe at large Alex Kurtzman did include Dracula in an optimistic slate of future entries to the franchise. There was no word on whether or not this would be a continuation of Luke Evans's efforts, or if another actor would be stepping up for yet another reboot of the bloodthirsty Count.
Kurtzman's outline came before The Mummy officially bombed, leading to a swathe of ghoulish suggestions that this latest cinematic universe was dead on arrival. The movie reportedly lost something in the region of $95-million, despite raking in up to $375-million in ticket sales. It had plenty of problems, its was ultimately buried under the weight of its own monster budget. Things took another grave turn when it looked like Kurtzman himself might even be preparing to abandon the franchise.
Dracula would, of course, be joining the Dark Universe at some point or another, but can the franchise survive that long?
Toil & Trouble: The Fate of Dark Universe
There's a tantalizing list of potential Dark Universe movies with A-list talent tied to star in each one, including:
- Bride of Frankenstein (2019), Starring Angelina Jolie & Javier Bardem
- The Creature From the Black Lagoon (TBA), Starring Scarlett Johansson
- The Wolf Man (TBA), Starring Dwayne Johnson
Luke Evans, who's covered broad ground in recent years, could easily work alongside this talented cast. However, Universal is apparently putting the brakes on the Dark Universe at large, recently pausing production on Bride of Frankenstein.
Universal may even struggle to keep this eclectic cast interested, or even available, the longer this debacle draws out. Already reports have suggested that Universal will turn to in-demand Gal Gadot to replace Angelina Jolie as the titular Bride, if Jolie is no longer available due to the delay.
A lot rests on Bill Condon's Bride of Frankenstein, with no other Dark Universe property currently in development. Deadline reported that the problem was in a lack of clarity about what the film actually is. The Mummy wrapped with similar identity problems, shambling between an action-adventure comedy a la Brendan Fraser's much-loved 1999 reboot of the franchise, and a gothic horror more in-keeping with the roots of Universal's monster movies themselves. According to the report, this has caused numerous Bride of Frankenstein rewrites.
Back From The Dead?
Dracula Untold only brought in $56-million domestically and was critically-panned, but if this is the format of further Dark Universe movies then it wouldn't be considered box-office suicide to resurrect Luke Evans's version of the character. If Cruise's 2-dimensional action man hero warrants a re-run in future movies, why not Luke Evans's warrior vampire?
Perhaps the current marathon of rewrites will see the franchise embrace its b-movie roots and double down on the campier elements of The Mummy – by which point a fish-out-of-water Dracula story might actually make for good comedy.
However, the prevailing theory is that Universal are leaning towards something truly terrifying: a well-told, R-rated horror in the vein of the chilling originals. #IT recently proved that good old-fashioned horror can go against form to rake in the big money at the box office. This would mean that Luke Evans's time as Vlad the Impaler is probably over, despite his hopes of returning. Fangs for trying though.
Do you think the Dark Universe is in trouble? Could Luke Evans save it? Sound off below!