On Twitter, a fan asked low-budget horror tycoon Jason Blum if his studio Blumhouse would be interested in resuscitating Universal’s seemingly dead Dark Universe project. Blum’s answer was one word, but it was emphatic.
— Jason Blum (@jason_blum) August 17, 2018
It would be a total 180 from what Universal had planned, but it would undoubtedly make money and could pave the way for Universal to revisit their original plan of making bigger budget tentpoles.
Universal dumped hundreds of millions into their prospective Dark Universe of movies; an effort to emulate the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, using Universal’s rich library of classic monsters including Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolfman, etc. Universal planned expensive summer popcorn flicks, meant for all audiences (meaning, not that scary), starring some of the biggest stars in Hollywood, including Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Russell Crowe, Javier Bardem and rising star Sofia Boutella, with rumors of either Angelina Jolie or Gal Gadot as ‘The Bride of Frankenstein’.Photo credit: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com
But after ‘The Mummy’ starring Cruise and Boutella flopped last summer, it appears that Universal yanked the plug completely. ‘The Bride of Frankenstein’ was due to begin filming earlier this year, but plans were “put on hold” last October. Then in November, writer/producers Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan, who had been hired to manage the entire initiative, departed. Universal had renovated an entire office building on their lot dedicated exclusively to Dark Universe, but rumor has it, it’s sitting nearly empty now. Despite occasional rumblings that this project might still have some life in it, most evidence points to the contrary.
Blumhouse movies tend to be low-budget slashers with no stars– Lucy Hale headlined this spring’s ‘Truth or Dare’. But with M. Night Shyamalan‘s ‘Split’ and Jordan Peele’s ‘Get Out’, which were huge hits, Blumhouse projects have also gotten excellent reviews, crossover appeal, and even an Academy Award (for ‘Get Out’). Things are starting to move in a different direction. The upcoming ‘Split’ followup ‘Glass’ (also by Shyamalan) and the new ‘Halloween’ have higher budgets and bigger stars like Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis and Jamie Lee Curtis, while Todd McFarlane’s ‘Spawn’ marks a small step into the superhero realm.
Universal already tried the bloated-budget, megastar route and failed. Maybe getting down to the core of these horror creations– and putting them in actual horror movies– would be a better move and if it doesn’t work, it won’t have cost them much. Just my two cents.