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Universal Goes Back to the Drawing Board as Dark Universe Producers Abandon the Franchise

Universal Goes Back to the Drawing Board as Dark Universe Producers Abandon the Franchise

When the going gets tough, the weak go running…

A not-so-shocking report over at THR says that writer-producers Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan, who were hired as Universal’s “Dark Universe” architects, have departed the franchise.

Just five months after Universal released a cast photo promising a slew of movies starring the likes of Johnny Depp, Russell Crowe, and Javier Bardem — all drawn on characters like the Invisible Man, Wolf Man and Frankenstein in its stable of classic horror films — none of the projects appears to have a pulse.

As the site notes, in early October, Universal pulled the plug on preproduction that had started in London for Bride of Frankenstein — which was to have followed The Mummy as the second entry in the series — partly because execs felt the script by writer-director Bill Condon wasn’t ready. Angelina Jolie had been courted for the lead but is now not attached. Insiders insist Condon (Beauty and the Beast) remains attached, but no date has been set to resume work, and a Feb. 14, 2019, release has been shelved.

“Emblematic of Dark Universe’s problems is the tony office building on the Universal lot that was revamped at considerable expense for the new venture. After being decked out in monster regalia, it now sits mostly empty.”

With the head of the snake lopped off, Universal allegedly isn’t pulling the plug. The site notes that the studio is exploring its options. One road involves offering the IP to high-profile filmmakers or producers with ideas for one-off movies not connected to a larger universe. It’s also possible that the studio could find a new architect who could overhaul the concept (James Wan, maybe?).

Universal president of production Peter Cramer sidestepped the issue, claiming that they’re more focused on getting a special kind of director than worrying about release dates.

“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,” says Cramer. “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.”

This is a load of crap, especially considering they hired Alex Kurtzman to head the Dark Universe and direct The Mummy, and Bill Condon for Bride of Frankenstein. The extra special irony in Cramer’s statement is that Guillermo del Toro‘s The Shape of Water, opening Dec. 1, 2017, is directly inspired by The Creature From the Black Lagoon, and will be an Oscar-contender for Fox Searchlight. What makes this even more hilarious is that del Toro was once attached to direct a Black Lagoon remake for Universal. Hmmmm?

While Universal may be seeking other options, they’ve yet to crack the Monsterverse with their horrid films ranging from The Wolfman to Dracula Untold. As horror purists, we hope they can figure this out, but for now, at least we have del Toro’s The Shape of Water to tide us over.

Thoughts?



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