Things aren’t looking too good for Universal’s Dark Universe.
As is typical for Hollywood’s interwoven franchises, the studio ran the risk of putting the cart before the horse by announcing big-budget fantasy flicks based on cinema’s most iconic creatures – think The Invisible Man and Frankenstein’s Monster – long before The Mummy became the first domino to fall. That was back in June, and after taking a financial hit in excess of $95 million, it’s clear that Universal’s classic monsters universe has had a pretty rough start.
In the fallout of The Mummy, reports claimed that internal meddling and the so-called ‘Cruise Control’ effect hampered production, resulting in an overstuffed film that was so concerned with setting up the future that it failed to deliver a half-decent story centering on Sofia Boutella’s titular deity. And unfortunately, things haven’t gotten much better in the time since.
Not too long ago, production on Bride of Frankenstein was halted and now, according to Digital Spy, The Invisible Man has lost scribe Ed Solomon. Speaking to the outlet in a recent interview, the writer said:
“At the end of the day, I think Universal and I had a different idea of what the movie was gonna be. We began thinking that our notions would meld, and I should’ve listened more closely to what they really were wanting.
I think Universal has had to come to a kind of reckoning of, ‘What are we doing with the Dark Universe?’ and, ‘What is our real intention with it?’, and I think they’re reconfiguring it now, which I think is probably good. But I’m not working on it.”
So, 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 burgeoning franchise? It’s too soon to tell, but things certainly aren’t looking good and we can only hope that the studio will be able right their wrongs and deliver to us the monsters movies we so desperately crave.