Poor box office may have done what others have failed to do – kill off the Mummy, Frankenstein, Dracula and friends.
The Hollywood Reporter is stating that there are a number of indicators that the studio’s much-hyped Dark Universe franchise, which would see the studio’s various monster properties interacting in a shared cinematic universe, could be a dead prospect.
Chief among the signs that all is not well at the Dark Universe franchise is that producers Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan have reportedly left their positions at the film series’ overall showrunners. The pair were initially brought on board by Universal back in —- to shepherd the concept onto the screen. To that end the pair convened a writer’s room to hash out an overall plotline that would run through a number of films featuring The Mummy, the Bride Of Frankenstein, the Invisible Man and more.
This summer saw the release of the first film in the series – The Mummy which starred Tom Cruise. The film was a critical and box office dud, only pulling in $40 million domestically. Internationally, it did much better, raising The Mummy’s total gross receipts to $409 million. But with a film that officially cost $150 million, unofficially much more and a marketing budget in the neighborhood of $100 million, it wasn’t enough to pull the project into the black.
Although the studio has been publically still behind the franchise, last month it put pre-production on the second installment – The Bride Of Frankenstein – on hold. That film was set to be directed by Bill Condon and feature Javier Bardem and Angelina Jolie in the cast, and was reportedly budgeted much less than The Mummy. Currently, although the Reporter states that insiders have told them that Condon is still attached to the project, Jolie is no longer.
According to the Reporter, Kurtzman’s contract with Universal expired in September and he has shifted his focus back to executive producing the latest Star Trek series Discovery, which has just been renewed for a second season. Morgan is back to work at the Fast And Furious franchise, reportedly working on a script spinning off Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham’s characters. The office building on the Universal lot that the studio gave over to the franchise now is reportedly “mostly empty.”
And while it may be in life support, the Dark Universe may not be entirely dead. Universal could bring in another producer to oversee things and perhaps bring both a stronger creative and budgetary hand to things to deliver solid films with a reasonable price tag. Alternately, the studio could scrap the franchise idea and farm the individual properties out to various filmmakers looking to put their own stamp on the characters.