Earlier this year, Universal Studios announced one of their biggest business ventures to date; a revival of the classic Monsters franchise they started back in the 1930’s. Jealous of Disney’s lucrative Marvel Cinematic Universe, they vowed to launch their own series of interconnected movies starring the Universal Monsters. It would be big and loud and epic and it would all fall under the banner touted at the beginning of last May’s first release: DARK UNIVERSE!
Then that first film, a remake of The Mummy, actually opened. And public reaction couldn’t have been more apathetic. The launch film itself, a tepid and humorless Tom Cruise vehicle, didn’t impress critics or anyone else. Originally Universal had lined up a big slate of talent for their Dark Universe; now that talent is bailing.
THR reported this morning that the main writer-producers behind Dark Universe, Chris Morgan and Alex Kurtzman, have officially left the project. Kurtzman will be focusing on television shows, while Morgan is returning to the Fast and Furious franchise. This, coupled with the indefinite delay of Dark Universe Movie #2 The Bride of Frankenstein, puts the entire venture in jeopardy.
Universal was so eager to put the cart before the horse that according to THR, they remodeled one of the office buildings on their lot for the sole purpose of incubating Dark Universe productions. It was an expensive project and now they have this big empty structure on the lot decorated with Dracula and Wolfman images, a constant reminder of their own hubris.
“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 Universal president of production Peter 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.” Which could be never.