A few weeks ago we learned about Universal’s plans to revitalize their classic monsters film brand with a new Marvel Cinematic Universe-style series of interconnected franchises with writers Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan heading up the effort. And now we now that Kurtzman will be adding some additional duties to his plate for the project as he will be taking on the directorial reins for the first film in the cycle, The Mummy.
Kurtzman is stepping in after Len Weisman dropped out of the project and a deal with next choice Mama director Andy Muschietti couldn’t be worked out.
While Universal has not yet set a date for the film to be in theaters, this added work for Kurtzman does cast a question over his involvement with Sony’s Spider-Man franchise. Last year, when the studio announced that they were expanding their line of Spidey films to include spin-offs featuring some of the villain characters from the comics, Kurtzman was attached to write and possibly direct a feature spotlighting the popular 1990s anti-hero character Venom. No date was given for that film. But right now, Sony’s plans for their Spider-Man franchise seem to be in a bit of disarray. With the underwhelming critical and box office response to this summer’s Amazing Spider-Man 2, the studio quickly reshuffled their release plans for the franchise, moving back the film’s direct sequel from its previously announced date in May 2016 back to an unspecified date in 2018 and announcing their villain-centric The Sinister Six for an unspecified date in 2016. If Sony were to keep to their every-other-year schedule, that would put a Venom film into the summer of 2020 at the very earliest.
But if Kurtzman has a success with The Mummy, there would certainly be an increase demand for his services from Universal. It appears that Sony does have first right to his services as the Venom project was announced several months before this week’s Mummy announcement. This could lead to a conflict between the two studios if both franchises are still active in a few years. Of course, if Sony’s misfortunes with Spider-Man continue, they may cancel their plans for a Venom film altogether.