Well, boys and girls, I have some good or bad news about The Dark Universe...
As horror fans may know, Universal Pictures was pulling a play from the Marvel handbook and creating a cinematic monster world, called the Dark Universe. Originally, Universal had plans to release monster films for The Mummy, Bride of Frankenstein, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Invisible Man, Van Helsing, Wolf Man, Frankenstein, Dracula, Phantom of the Opera and Hunchback of Notre-Dame.
Well, The Mummy (2017) came out starring Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella and personal I didn't care for it. I wasn't the only person that felt that way because The Mummy started showing poor numbers in the theatres and by its third week it was pulled from 827 of the US theatres. Now, it did better in the worldwide numbers, but domestically it pulled in around $80 million, which doesn't look good against a budget of $125 million. Next up was supposed to be the Bride of Frankenstein, which was set to be released February 2019. Javier Bardem is signed to play Frankenstein's monster and Angelina Jolie is in talks to play the title character. Word is Jolie is still on the fence about taking on the project. Although it may not matter if Jolie gets on board or not because the Bride of Frankenstein film has been pulled from the Universal schedule. It seems that The Mummy's poor reception has caused concern in Universal. They've decided to pull the film so that director Bill Condon and writer David Koepp can re-work the script to better reflect their vision of the film. Not much more is known about the other films except that Johnny Depp signed on to be in the Invisible Man movie.
So, what's the deal, one movie (The Mummy) went bad and everyone freaks out? Well, yes and no. Yes the powers that be are concerned with how the fans received the intro movie to the universe, but that's not what freaked everyone out. Apparently, franchise’s architects, Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan, have stepped away from the Dark Universe to focus on other projects. It was Kurtzman and Morgan's job to map out the studio's vision of the Dark Universe. It looks like Kurtzman is currently working as an executive producer for CBS's Star Trek: Discovery and Morgan has returned to the Fast and Furious franchise to work on a spin-off film that will star Jason Statham and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Well, least some good has come out of this sad news because we need more Fast and Furious films!
So, between money lost on The Mummy, Bride of Frankenstein being taking of the schedule and then Kurtzman and Morgan leaving, many people are left wondering if the Dark Universe project is dead in the water. Sadly, I don't have an answer for you right now because some of the people that are left wondering are also from Universal Studios. They are currently running the numbers to see if the Universe is worth saving or if changes can be made to save it. Like still making the monster films, but scrapping the shared world idea. However, Universal’s president of production Peter Cramer did have this to say about the situation. “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.”
Personally, I love the idea of a shared monster world. I would absolutely love seeing the Wolfman running with The Creature from the Black Lagoon and so on. Who remembers The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)? Yeah, the movie was crappy, but watching the Invisible Man running with Mr. Hyde and the others, was so cool. So, when Universal announced the Dark Universe, I felt like a dream had come true. Unfortunately, after watching the intro film to the universe, I found out it was nothing more than a big budget nightmare. As a horror fan and an old-school monster fan, I'm hoping they can save the Dark Universe, but serious changes need to be made for that to happen.
So, there you have it, the Dark Universe is currently floating in limbo while it's trying to figure out what to do, which means all of the "it's dead in the water" that you're hearing isn't necessarily true... yet!