Universal’s Dark Universe Is Seemingly Closing Its Doors After Just One Movie

Well before Marvel came along, Universal’s monsters had a shared universe of their very own. In the 1940s, Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf Man all met, fought, and otherwise hung out in films like House of Dracula and Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man. So, it made sense to bring back the classic monsters as a shared universe in the modern era. Or rather, it did on paper. Audiences had different ideas, and Universal has shown, yet again, you can’t force a shared universe.

The Hollywood Reporter has word that Universal’s Dark Universe has imploded. Its producers, Alex Kurtzmann and Chris Morgan, have left, and the next movie, Bill Condon’s highly anticipated Bride Of Frankenstein, needs a lightning bolt:

In early October, Universal pulled the plug on preproduction that had started in London for Bride of Frankenstein — which was to have followed The Mummy as the second entry in the series — partly because execs felt the script by writer-director Bill Condon wasn’t ready. Angelina Jolie had been courted for the lead but is now not attached. Insiders insist Condon (Beauty and the Beast) remains attached, but no date has been set to resume work, and a Feb. 14, 2019, release has been shelved.

All of this is thanks to Tom Cruise’s The Mummy, which didn’t excite critics and went up against the unstoppable Wonder Woman. It also arrived amidst a lot of confusion. Was Cruise’s movie a reboot of the 1930s Karloff classic, the more recent Brendan Fraser goofball action flicks, or its own thing? Tellingly, the Luke Evans-starring Dracula Untold, which preceded it, performed about the same, and Universal wrote that one off as well.

There will be a lot of analysis as to why so much money and effort went into something only to sink off the pop culture radar. But really, the issue is that a shared universe needs a lot of great individual parts, and a lot of talent. Marvel’s shared universe knocked out three quite good movies in a row (and, hey, The Incredible Hulk isn’t bad either) before rolling out The Avengers. That’s tricky for any studio to do, and the Dark Universe might simply have fallen victim to one of the realities of Hollywood: It’s hard to make one movie people really want to see, much less a universe’s worth of them.

(via The Hollywood Reporter)