Key producers depart Universal's Dark Universe with franchise's future in doubt

Image via Universal

Kurtzmann's efforts are tied up with Star Trek Discovery, the Netflix / CBS All Access project that's been garnering critical acclaim for revitalising Trek as a television property, whilst Chris Morgan has gone back to the Fast and Furious franchise and is also penning a spinoff with Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham.

Although The Mummy was meant to launch the studio's ambitious Dark Universe - a film franchise based around some of cinema's most iconic monsters - the move was met with a harsh critical reception. Kurtzman is now working as an executive producer on CBS' Star Trek: Discovery in addition to a number of other projects he's involved in because of a deal he has with the network. While managing to gross $409 million worldwide, the film was a financial failure within the economics of the industry and its domestic take of $80 million failed to cover its exorbitant $125 million budget. The released a cast photo featuring Johnny Depp, Russell Crowe, Javier Bardem and others and announced adaptations of Bride of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man and more.

Is Universal Pictures' dream for a Dark Universe dead in the water?

The dubbed Dark Universe of films, created to showcase 21 century updates of Universal's beloved classic black-and-white monster movies, have hit a snag.

It was looking like Jolie was close to signing on for the new Bride of Frankenstein, with Bill Condon (Beauty and the Beast) directing from a screenplay by A-lister David Koepp (Jurassic Park), but shortly after Mummy came and went, Jolie signed with Disney to make Maleficent 2, and Condon's pre-production work in London was halted.

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The follow-up movie to The Mummy is also now in serious doubt as The Hollywood Reporter revealed the current fate of the Dark Universe today. Word from the studio was that the film wasn't cancelled, merely "postponed", with the previously-set February 14, 2019 release date scrapped.

Universal isn't giving up entirely with its vast library of monsters, which includes Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, Dracula and others. One of those paths involves launching standalone films with other producers, possibly including Blumhouse head and horror mastermind Jason Blum. After being decked out in monster regalia, it now sits mostly empty.

"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". They're among the studio's greatest assets.

In fact, the movie's disappointing performance seems to have been the kiss of death for ambitious plans to create a huge interconnected world of classic big screen monsters.

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