Universal’s “DARK UNIVERSE!!!!” will be the butt of jokes among film buffs for quite some time. It was one of the biggest, loudest examples of the still-current “expanded cinematic universe” craze, which to date only Marvel has successfully pulled off.
Although when we say that, we’re referring to present history. Universal was technically the first to create a successful cinematic universe with their “Monsters” films of the 1930s. The Universal of our time got overconfident and thought they could repeat the phenomenon just by doing it again. It was not that simple — you need audience support, and the Dark Universe was greeted with apathy by the movie-going public.
Just one film under the Dark Universe banner was released; a joyless remake of The Mummy starring Tom Cruise. But all of the monsters from Universal’s old stable were ready to make comebacks, and at least one of them is still hanging on.
According to Variety, The Invisible Man is still on Universal’s production schedule and Leigh Whannell, director of “Upgrade,” has been hired to direct and co-produce the feature alongside Jason Blum, who needs no introduction these days as far as horror is concerned.
Universal has shifted their strategy a bit. They would still like to make new Monsters movies, but they’ll be aimed at the horror audience, not the mass audience the Dark Universe would’ve been for. Whatever the director thinks is necessary will be in the picture, and R-rated films are not out of the question. Also, each movie will be the vision of its director, and won’t be connected in the least (unless Universal changes their minds after one of these becomes successful).
“Throughout cinematic history, Universal’s classic monsters have been reinvented through the prism of each new filmmaker who brought these characters to life,” said Peter Cramer, Universal’s president of production. “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.”
What The Invisible Man doesn’t have is an actor, since Johnny Depp was dropped from the project, just as he’s been dropped from everything else. When it comes to a character like this, though, do you really need to hire anyone?