It’s safe to say that Universal’s Dark Universe hasn’t gone to plan. Intended to emulate the wildly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe, but with classic movie monsters instead of superheroes, the films have repeatedly sputtered. 2014’s Dracula Untold was originally intended to launch the idea, but its critical and commercial failure led Universal to sever connections with it and say that 2017’s The Mummy was actually going to be the first Dark Universe film – for real this time!
Of course, the reboot proceeded to founder even worse than Dracula Untold, releasing to dreadful reviews and eventually losing about $95 million. Universal then quickly pulled the plug on Bride of Frankenstein, intended to be the follow-up to The Mummy. Perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, the architects of the Dark Universe, Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan departed, after which it looked like the whole monster shared universe thing was in the trash.
But, like some unholy rotting abomination manacled to a table, the franchise just twitched! Artist Robert Vargas recently posted on Instagram that he’d had a meeting with the Dark Universe team at the studio, explaining in the caption that he’s “looking forward to contributing to the Universal Pictures legacy with my work” and that there are “monster things” on the way.
Could third time really be the charm for this woebegone cinematic project? Surely, after countless millions of dollars spent with very little return on the investment, Universal might be a bit reticent to have another shot. Then again, horror is on the ascendant in 2018, with some of the biggest hits of 2017 coming from the genre.
If I were in their shoes I’d ditch the blockbuster action concept we saw in The Mummy and go for a more straightforward R-rated horror piece. Give us monster movies with fangs and blood in the Dark Universe, rather than explosions and Tom Cruise!