Universal’s ‘Dark Universe’ Of Monsters In Trouble?
All is not well in the Dark Universe. The relaunching of Universal Pictures ‘Monsterverse’ renamed ‘Dark Universe’, which includes a large slate of classic monster film remakes including the Bride of Frankenstein, Creature From The Black Lagoon and The Invisible Man is in trouble it would seem.
Veteran producers Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan who were hired to lead the new universe of monsters into the future have both stepped down from the positions and moved onto other projects.
Hollywood Reporter is exclusively reporting that Kurtzman, whose deal with Universal lapsed in September, is focusing on television (he’s an executive producer on CBS All Access’ Star Trek: Discovery, and his overall deal with CBS involves more than a half-dozen shows), while Morgan has returned to the Fast and Furious franchise and is writing a spinoff for Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham.
In early October, Universal pulled the plug on preproduction that had started in London for Bride of Frankenstein — which was to have followed The Mummy as the second entry in the series — partly because execs felt the script by writer-director Bill Condon wasn’t ready. Angelina Jolie had been courted for the lead but is now not attached. Insiders insist Condon (Beauty and the Beast) remains attached, but no date has been set to resume work, and a Feb. 14, 2019, release has been shelved.
All this comes in the wake of Mummy‘s poor performance. Released in June, the Tom Cruise picture grossed a relatively paltry $409 million worldwide on a budget of $125 million-plus (some insiders place it considerably higher). That doesn’t include marketing costs of at least $100 million.
Universal is exploring its options. One road involves offering the IP to high-profile filmmakers or producers (Jason Blum has been mentioned) with ideas for one-off movies not connected to a larger universe. And the studio could find a new architect who could overhaul the concept.
“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,” says Universal president of production Peter Cramer. “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.”
I truly hope the studio figures out a new direction because many of the actors and titles put into development really had many horror movie fans psyched about the future. While launching the Dark Universe with Tom Cruise in The Mummy seemed like a wrong move to many fans we were holding out hope for the films to follow.
It seemed like Universal was going to use monster movies as a way to battle the Super-hero tent-pole films that have become long in the tooth for many fans. Fingers crossed they find the light at the end of the tunnel.