It’s been a rough few months for Universal’s Dark Universe franchise. The Mummy, planned as a tentpole release and the beginning of a whole shared universe saga, disappointed at the box office and was reviled by critics. Then, Bill Condon’s Bride Of Frankenstein, which was in pre-production with Angelina Jolie being heavily rumoured for the lead role, was put on an indefinite pause.
Now, THR reports that the two writer-producers who had been instrumental in this venture have departed. Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan have headed back to their other successful projects: Star Trek Discovery and the Fast & Furious franchise respectively. Kurtzman directed The Mummy and the site notes that his deal with the studio ended in September, while Morgan has the Dwayne Johnson – Jason Statham FF spinoff to work on.
It’s not too surprising to hear that there’s a bit of a shake-up going on given how categorically The Mummy did not work, but the report does make it sound like there’s a back to the drawing board approach about to start. Most depressing of all, for some reason, is the note about the big office the production had hired as their headquarters: “Emblematic of Dark Universe’s problems is the tony office building on the Universal lot that was revamped at considerable expense for the new venture. After being decked out in monster regalia, it now sits mostly empty.”
However, hopefully this means that we can have something, you know, better. As the report notes, the studio has been reaching to filmmakers and they’re investigating stand-alone movies that won’t need to come with the same baggage as The Mummy did when it comes to crowbar-ing Dr Jekyll in, for example. Jason Blum’s name has been thrown around, which suggests that they’re open to actually making a horror movie or two out with these characters.
What does this mean for the expensive stars of the franchise? Cruise appeared in a photoshopped promo pic alongside Sofia Boutella, Crowe, Javier Bardem (Dr Frankenstein) and Johnny Depp (The Invisible Man), but we’ll have to wait and see if any of their promised standalone films actually come to pass.
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