The Dark Universe loses two more key players

Posted November 09, 2017

Although The Mummy was meant to launch the studio's ambitious Dark Universe - a film franchise based around some of cinema's most iconic monsters - the move was met with a harsh critical reception.

"This affords Alex Kurtzman more time for a project that is really working well: Star Trek Discovery", says New York-based freelance critic Jordan Hoffman, host of the official Star Trek podcast, who was in attendance of a Mummy screening that elicited unintended laughter from the crowd. Now it seems that all of Dr. Jekyll's movie-stalling, world building exposition was for nothing, and The Dark Universe is set to collapse again. And the film's meager box office haul didn't help either - earning just $409 million worldwide on a budget of $125 million-plus. Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean) was set to play The Invisible Man, Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men) was to play Frankenstein's monster, and even Dwayne "The Rock' Johnson (The Fate of the Furious) was rumored to be in talks for The Wolfman".

The impending death of Universal's monster universe isn't surprising.

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Dark Universe represented both a key piece of the Universal Pictures legacy and a chance for the studio to branch out into the same shared universe territory already explored by Marvel Studios, DC Films and Fox's X-Men franchise.

The failure of The Mummy didn't bode well for the future of the franchise, even upon its initial release.

It was looking like Jolie was close to signing on for the new Bride of Frankenstein, with Bill Condon (Beauty and the Beast) directing from a screenplay by A-lister David Koepp (Jurassic Park), but shortly after Mummy came and went, Jolie signed with Disney to make Maleficent 2, and Condon's pre-production work in London was halted. Condon is reportedly still attached but a production date hasn't been revealed and it was pulled from its February 14, 2019 release date. Iconic characters like the Invisible Man, Wolf Man and Frankenstein were slated for big screen returns.

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"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", Universal president of production Peter Cramer said. "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". They're among the studio's greatest assets. Possibly. One option for Universal is to find a new mastermind to course correct the tone without losing the interconnectivity.

John has loved movie monsters for as far back as he can remember.

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