While Disney is creating and expanding their own universe with their Marvel films, and Warner Bros expanding their universe with DC comics, Universal Studios has decided to get a piece of the pie. However, their movie genre will not not be super heroes, but will rather focus on our most beloved classic movie monsters. These monsters will include horror movie fan favorites Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster/Bride of Frankenstein, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and the Wolf Man. Universal has planned a shared universe with all of these monsters in the coming years with their first starting with this 2014's film Dracula Untold.
Universal Studios has had mild success with action/adventure films featuring movie monsters including 1999’s The Mummy starring Brendan Frasier, Rachael Weisz, and Oded Fehr. This film had mostly positive reviews (I liked it a lot) which made it into a franchise producing two sequels: 2001’s The Mummy Returns (which was ok but nowhere near as good as The Mummy) and the atrocious 2008’s The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. These films did pretty well at the box office grossing a total of all three films: roughly $460 million in the U.S. The total budget for all three films was $323 million. That’s about $137 million in profit Universal Studios made off of their films.
However, the third installment lost a ton of money. The budget of the film was an estimated $145 million and grossed only around $102.5 million in the U.S. Universal lost a significant amount of money on The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor but still managed to net $137 million of profit of all three films combined: IMBD.
Another installment of an action/adventure film by Universal Studios was 2004’s Van Helsing starring Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, and Richard Roxburgh. This film also had its share of mixed reviews but did poorly at the box office thus losing out on profit. Its budget was an estimated $160 million and only grossed roughly $120 million in the U.S. Some people I have spoken with enjoyed this film. I however was not a huge fan when it came out and still not to this day.
Universal Studios is doing their best to compete with both Disney and Warner Bros for a share of the movie universe. At its heart these monsters have been used primarily in horror movies. It will be interesting to see how Universal will install these monsters in a shared universe together in action/adventure films.
Here’s what Donna Langley (Universal’s CEO) stated about their upcoming monster shared universe: “We don’t have any capes [in our film library]. But what we do have is an incredible legacy and history with the monster characters. We’ve tried over the years to make monster movies — unsuccessfully, actually. And we had an epihany, which is that the horror genre has a ceiling; it’s not global. There’s a reason why monster characters are enduring, generation upon generation. So we took a good, hard look at it, and we settled upon an idea, which is to take it out of the horror genre, put it more in the action-adventure genre and make it present day, bringing these incredibly rich and complex characters into present day and reimagine them and reintroduce them to a contemporary audience.” Source: Collider
I am not sure if I agree with this plan or not. I understand the main reason why they want to produce these films. The reason I believe is to compete with all the other major film companies including Disney and Warner Bros. However, if Universal executes these films efficiently and carefully, I don’t see how these films could bomb at the box office. I am still on the fence with their plan however I am always open to see directors try new theories.
So what is your opinion on Universal Studios creating a monster shared universe? Are you on board with their plans or are their plans ruining your childhood of our beloved movie monsters? Comment below and share your thoughts!