It seems Universal’s fledging Dark Universe is at risk of flatlining.
Sources close to The Hollywood Reporter claim Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek: Discovery) and Chris Morgan are no longer involved in the wildly ambitious franchise, which arguably got off on the wrong foot after The Mummy was torn to shreds by critics earlier this year.
Despite a global haul in excess of $400 million, the Tom Cruise-fronted epic wound up costing Universal close to $95 million, and it didn’t take long before the Powers That Be pumped the brakes on the Dark Universe to reassess the situation. Indeed, that soul-searching led to Bride of Frankenstein being unceremoniously yanked from Universal’s release slate, at which point the horror spinoff also lost Angelina Jolie. Writer-director Bill Condon (Beauty and the Beast) is still in the process of hashing out a script, though, according to THR’s sources.
Circling back to Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan’s departure, and we understand the former plans to double down on his TV output, beginning with Star Trek: Discovery over on CBS All Access. As for Morgan, he’s back-pedaled all the way into Universal’s Fast and the Furious franchise, where his first port of call will be writing a spinoff movie featuring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham.
But where does this leave the Dark Universe? Well, according to Universal’s president of production Peter Cramer, the studio is no longer “rushing to meet a release date,” and is said to be mulling over the idea of one-off horror movies that aren’t necessarily tied to a film universe.
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.
Perhaps this will lend Universal a chance to course-correct its Dark Universe? It’s too soon to tell, but considering that movies based on The Invisible Man (Johnny Depp), Dr. Jekyll (Russell Crowe) and Frankenstein’s Monster (Javier Bardem) have all been floated in the past, there may still be life on the old dog yet. Even after the loss of Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan.