Now is not exactly an excellent time to be Universal. Their attempt at launching an interconnected cinematic universe, appropriately named Dark Universe, is off to a bumpy start. The recent failure of the latest Mummy film did nothing to help garner interest in the project.
Now top producers of the endeavor, Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan, are already out. This leaves the fate of the Dark Universe uncertain. But this move was a long time coming. Kurtzman seemed uncertain of his continued involvement as far back as August. He was quoted saying “You know the truth is, I don’t know. I really don’t know. I haven’t really decided is the honest answer.”
The Dark Universe hasn’t been killed just yet. The alleged next film in the endeavor, The Bride of Frankenstein, is apparently still in development. However, the only confirmed name on the project is Bill Condon, writing and directing. Angelina Jolie was rumored for the title role, but she’s not officially attached. The film lost its release date as well, placing even that project in the realm of uncertainty.
The irony of the situation is that this is Universal having trouble. As far as the concept of the cinematic universe goes, they actually did it first. They began the crossovers with their popular monsters – Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolfman, and so-on. Furthermore, it’s entirely likely that Marvel took notes from Universal in setting up its own endeavor.
So Universal shouldn’t be having nearly as much trouble with this as they clearly are. And yet they seem intent on simply copying the MCU. Creating a centralizing organization that helps tie all of the films together? Gee, that sounds familiar. But Universal doesn’t have to copy Marvel’s method on this. The framework is already there.
Of course, Universal isn’t just copying Marvel. In the rush to catch up to Marvel, they make the same mistakes that numerous other attempts are guilty of. Including some of Marvel’s own movies. They focus more on setup than on making a solid standalone film. Easter eggs and minor teases are perfectly fine. But Universal really wants to hurry along to the interconnected part. They forgot that before there was even a hint of these monsters interacting with one another, they first stood alone.
Talk, of late, suggests that the Dark Universe could live or die by Universal’s next move. They say they’re “exploring options,” as things are. Universal wants their movie monsters are looking to make a return. It remains to be seen whether that be in standalone films or a connected universe. The Bride of Frankenstein was slated for a 2019 release. Since losing its release date, it’s unknown whether the film will remain tied to the Dark Universe.