You can nearly imagine Universal Studio executives looking with wide-eyed amazement at the large box office returns being made on superhero films with extended film universes. There may be hope for this Dark Universe yet. Alex Kurtzman, the directory of DU's first official entry The Mummy, recently let slip that two previously-unannounced movies will be released in Universal's grand monster cinematic world: Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Universal has also announced future films with Johnny Depp as The Invisible Man and Javier Bardem as Frankenstein's Monster.
The Mummy opens on Friday 9th June with Tom Cruise leading the cast. At least we can see some more gravity-defying Tom Cruise stunts along the way? For those of us who grew up watching the great black-and-white Universal Studios monster movies on Creature Feature and Svengoolie, this news is cause for both celebration and trepidation. Kurtzman shared that the director might have something planned to recreate a monster that can be remembered and loved by generations to come.
Universal made its name as a studio, from the '20s to the '50s with a whole host of monster movies.
"David Koepp wrote the script". But one project that has Alex Kurtzman particularly excited is Bride of Frankenstein. This could be Universal's chance to re-introduce Dracula to the Dark Universe, though in other adaptations (including the one starring Hugh Jackman) Van Helsing has been known to fight other monsters including the Wolfman and Mr Hyde himself. Aaron Guzikowski, who wrote 2013's Prisoners, is working on the screenplay - no cast or director are now attached.
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If Dracula is on the list, that's probably the final nail in the coffin for Dracula Untold ever being considered part of this universe.
So, in an ironic twist befitting a classic monster movie, the Dark Universe will morph into another superhero franchise - thus becoming the creature it was trying to not become.
Acclaimed Taiwanese director Lee Ang tried to make a relatable, anguished Hulk in 2003, which failed at the box office - so unless the studio is trying to make an arthouse superhero movie, audiences are not that impressed by human weakness in a monster.