The last five years have been something of a rollercoaster for Universal’s attempt at a Dark Universe. Gary Shore’s 2014 thriller, Dracula Untold, gave way for the studio to steer efforts toward reviving its long-celebrated line of monster movie properties – a move that didn’t bode too well for Alex Kurtzman’s critically panned take on The Mummy three years later.
The film bombed and that pretty much left things near solidly uncertain for the Dark Universe as the studio had already lined its cast up, including Johnny Depp who was set to star as The Invisible Man, based on H.G. Wells’ 1897 novella. To make matters worse and despite the franchise’s maintenance, the state of the still-fledgeling shingle was also mired by the departure of that film’s writer, Ed Solomon, just last week, prior to Depp’s own switching of gears on Monday.
For this, however, it does look like things are finally turning around just a little as The Invisible Man has reportedly brought on Leigh Whannell in his now third outing with producer Jason Blum. Whannell rightly earned his spotlight last year between SXSW and the Fall release of his searing, layered action horror sci-fi hit, Upgrade, about a technophobe who sets out to avenge the death of his wife with the help of an A.I. chip implant that tops his normal bodily functions with the skills of a highly-trained killer.
Justin Kroll’s exclusive at Variety hints that these updates, while possibly keeping The Invisible Man at bay for the moment, are part of a new strategy that won’t necessarily obligate moviegoers with a string of connected universe titles. Instead, the company is freeing up the origins in a way that will allow directors to tell their own story and appeal better to audiences – this, as Universal remains true to its in-house plans.
“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.”
So, there’s hope yet for an albeit new monster franchise. What are your thoughts? Comment below!