In early October, I excitedly reported that Universal had plans to begin filming their Bride of Frankenstein remake in February 2018. It was to be part of the new Dark Universe, offering as the follow-up to The Mummy (2017). Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters, Beauty and the Beast) was set to direct, and it all seemed to be a Monster fan’s dream. Alas, the anticipation was short-lived. Not long after it was announced, both Condon and Universal decided to postpone Bride to allow more time for the film to come together. Fast-forward almost exactly a month later and we have similar news for the entirety of the planned Dark Universe.
It was announced earlier in an article by THR that writer-producers Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan, who were hired on as the Dark Universe architects, have departed the franchise to work on other projects. Could it be that the under-performance of The Mummy discouraged them? That may have a lot to do with it..
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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.
But does this mean that the Dark Universe is dead and buried? No. It’s more-or-less in a coma at this point, but there is still hope. Universal is exploring its options for the franchise. Peter Cramer, Universal president of production, says:
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… 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.
These “filmmaker-driven vehicles” could very well be handed over to high-profile filmmakers and producers like Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions, who is being considered. This would allow for movies that are a part of the Dark Universe but could easily stand alone. As box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian says:
It’s never too late to course-correct because with each movie, you get another shot.
While the news is disappointing at this point, at least we have hope for a chance of someone doing our beloved monsters justice. Let us keep dreaming of Angelina Jolie as the Bride and our long-awaited Creature from the Black Lagoon film. As long as the fans stay hopeful, we might be rewarded.