Another blockbuster showdown has been averted. In the latest update on Universal’s scheme to dust off its library of classic monsters with a Marvel-esque blockbuster franchise, the studio has shifted an untitled monster movie from March 30, 2018, to April 13, 2018.
Backing away from the Easter weekend puts more distance between the still-unspecified film and Steven Spielberg-directed Ready Player One, which Warner Bros. just moved to March last week in hopes of evading Star Wars: Episode VIII. Such maneuvering between studios is increasingly common these days, as mega-blockbusters stake their claim early on to far-off release dates and give smaller titles a chance to get out of the way.
Universal has cause to avoid a conflict with Ready Player One. A surreal and very meta action-adventure about a teenaged video gamer whose attempts to find a fabled easter egg within a massive virtual-reality game, it’s being eyed as a major tentpole with wide-reaching appeal for Warner Bros.
Though Universal’s movie monsters are horror icons, its new films are to follow the example set by Gary Shore’s 2014 Dracula Untold (the first in the rebooted universe) and hew closer to action-adventure. To that end, they’ll be produced and shepherded by two heavyweights in that genre: Alex Kurtzman, of Star Trek fame, and Chris Morgan, from the Fast & Furious franchise.
It’s anyone’s guess which monster movie will now get slotted into that April release date; indeed, it wouldn’t be all too surprising if Universal hasn’t yet figured that out either. After all, the studio has its plate full at the moment putting together the cast for The Mummy, which will open June 9 next year and is already set to star Tom Cruise, in an unknown role, and Kingsman: The Secret Service breakout Sofia Boutella as the titular bandage-swathed icon.
Simultaneously, it’s developing a version of The Invisible Man with Johnny Depp. Cruise and Depp are both bankable stars right now, so it would make sense for Universal to prioritize their vehicles and first test out audience appetite for monster movies with actors who can already draw crowds.
A bevy of writers are currently working under Kurtzman and Morgan right now to hash out the monsters’ universe, so more news about which ones will hit screens first should be leaking out in the coming months.