Yesterday, Universal Studios finally gave a name to their long-planned classic monster franchise. The initiative plans to revive iconic monster characters such as Frankenstein, the Invisible Man and Wolf Man, and throw them all into a shared cinematic world called the Dark Universe. The intention is to build on the success of other shared-world film franchises, such as the impossibly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. The first film to kick off the franchise will be Tom Cruises’ forthcoming The Mummy reboot, which hits theaters on June 9.
Universal is investing heavily in star talent both in front of and behind the camera to ensure the success of their foray into world-building. They’re employing such heavyweight directors as Christopher McQuarrie (several Mission: Impossible films, The Usual Suspects), David Koepp (War of the Worlds, Jurassic Park) and Bill Condon (Beauty and the Beast). Portraying these timeless characters will be bona fide superstars, such as Javier Bardem playing Frankenstein’s Monster and Johnny Depp as the Invisible Man, alongside Mummy’s Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe—you can see the whole Dark Universe gang below. The arc of the franchise will be heavily guided by producer Chris Morgan, who has written six Fast and Furious movies, including the recent, fantastic Fate of the Furious.
Condon’s will be the next entry in the Dark Universe, per Deadline. His Bride of Frankenstein, scripted by Koepp, is due out on February 14, 2019.
All of this will be emotionally anchored in beautiful film scores composed by the prolific Danny Elfman (practically every movie ever, including: Spiderman, Mission: Impossible, Men in Black, Batman and even The Simpsons’ theme). The composer is so excited, he even offered up a uncomfortably excitable statement about the forthcoming Dark Universe:
I grew up on monsters. Monsters were my life, and these iconic Universal monsters were almost like my family. I simply wouldn’t be the same without them. When I got the opportunity to compose a theme for the Dark Universe logo, of course I jumped at it. What could be more fun than connecting to this world that has always been so deeply imbedded in my psyche? I tried to find something that was new but still had some connections with the past, the origins, at least in a subtle way. Something that was looking forward to a creative, fertile, imaginative future that Dark Universe will enter, and at the same time saluting the heritage of the tragic heroes (or anti-heroes) of my childhood. To the Monsters!!!!
The initial trailer for the franchise is a smart retread of old, black-and-white films from the Universal vault. Even though many filmgoers will probably have missed those films, the way they’re spliced together almost makes us want to go back and watch them. It’s a slick trailer, and goes a long way towards making the Dark Universe look like something worth checking out. Threatening to destroy the tension, however, are several, brief shots of the goofy-ass Creature from the Black Lagoon swimming around looking anything but terrifying. Hopefully they get somebody like Andy Serkis to play the character, as they’ll be treading a very, very thin line in attempting to make the creature at all interesting.
Overall, this announcement appears promising, despite the Dark Universe being something exactly nobody has asked for.
Be sure to check out the Dark Universe announcement trailer above and the most recent Mummy trailer here.
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