When it was first announced, a shared universe for rebooted takes on Universal’s classic monsters sounded like it could be fun if all went well. Things did not go well.
The shared universe, which was dubbed the Dark Universe, opened with 2017’s The Mummy starring Tom Cruise. Instead of focusing on the horror, the focus was more on making a CGI-heavy action blockbuster. The movie cost $125 million to produce, and made only $80 million at the domestic box office. A nearly $330 million showing in foreign markets helped to recoup some of those costs, but the Dark Universe was in serious jeopardy of dropping dead a few steps from the starting line.
Now comes word that Universal has indeed killed off the Dark Universe, and will instead shift their focus to rebooting their monsters as individual projects with no ties to a connected universe and, best of all, rooted in horror with no restrictions on the budget, the rating, or the tone.
This past August producer Jason Blum made it clear he would be interested in bringing the Dark Universe to his Blumhouse Productions, which is known for making horror hits on a low to modest budget such as Paranormal Activity, Insidious, The Purge, The Visit, Get Out, and the latest Halloween among many others.
As it turns out, that’s what’s happening. Minus the Dark Universe part. As part of the announcement that Universal was dropping the Dark Universe and focusing on individual monster projects, it was revealed that Blum and Blumhouse will be producing the next take on The Invisible Man for the studio.
And they already have someone attached to make it who’s familiar with both horror and Blumhouse. Leigh Whannell, who wrote and directed Insidious: Chapter 3 and last year’s Upgrade for Blumhouse, has signed on to write, direct, and produce The Invisible Man. Whannell also wrote and starred in the original Saw, one of its sequels, and all of the Insidious movies.
This new approach by Universal aims to not only create new projects based around their classic monsters, but also give filmmakers the opportunity to create their own unique takes on the characters without having to worry about how it connects to the other monster movies.
Here’s what Universal president of production Peter Cramer had to say about the news:
“Throughout cinematic history, Universal’s classic monsters have been reinvented through the prism of each new filmmaker who brought these characters to life. We are excited to take a more individualized approach for their return to screen, shepherded by creators who have stories they are passionate to tell with them.”
One might think that this complete departure from the original plan means that the stars who were attached to the Dark Universe, such as Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Russell Crowe, and Cruise, would no longer be involved going forward. But interestingly enough, that’s not necessarily the case.
It is true that Depp, who was originally set to star in the Dark Universe’s version of The Invisible Man, will not be appearing in this newly announced version. The report does state, however, that he and the other actors could still appear in future movies if they like the vision of the filmmakers who are brought in to work on them.
The big question now is what’s next? Though The Invisible Man has been announced, it might not be the next Universal monsters movie to head into production. The studio is talking to multiple filmmakers about their various projects, so we’ll likely be learning more fairly soon.
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