It looks like Universal's very lofty plans for the Dark Universe may have been a bit premature. Bride of Frankenstein is, or possibly was, intended to be the next movie in the studio's interconnected Dark Universe series of monster movies, following Tom Cruise's The Mummy, which arrived with a critical thud over the summer. Now we have word that Universal has, at least temporarily, pulled the plug on Bride of Frankenstein.
According to Deadline, pre-production was already taking place on the remake of the 1935 classic, which is set to be directed by Bill Condon (Beauty and the Beast). Universal had pre-production stopped, with "the crew has just been told to go home for the time being." Despite the stoppage, Universal released a statement saying that they are still intending to make Bride of Frankenstein, but they don't want to be rushed to "meet a release date." Here's what they had to say about it.
"After thoughtful consideration, Universal Pictures and director Bill Condon have decided to postpone Bride of Frankenstein. None of us want to move too quickly to meet a release date when we know this special movie needs more time to come together. Bill is a director whose enormous talent has been proven time and again, and we all look forward to continuing to work on this film together."
Originally, Bride of Frankenstein was supposed to start shooting on February 1 in order to meet the previously announced February 14, 2019, release date. That isn't going to happen now, as David Koepp is reportedly doing rewrites on the script. It is also being reported that Javier Bardem, who is signed up to play Frankenstein's monster, and Angelina Jolie, who is in talks to play his reanimated bride, are both waiting in the wings and aren't leaving the project as of yet. Bill Condon also seems committed, as he recently spoke with Collider about his vision for the movie.
"This is Eve before Adam; the bride comes first. So in its own way, you know, we all know the Bride only exists for 10 minutes in the Whale movie. She's there and the movie's over. So I keep thinking [it's], in a way, at least a tribute to what Whale might have done if he'd made a third Frankenstein movie and he'd done it in the 21st Century,"
The Mummy was intended to launch the Dark Universe in epic fashion. That didn't go so well. The movie had a very troubled production, which resulted in a critical disaster. Currently, The Mummy, which did a lot of world building for the Dark Universe, has an ugly 16 percent approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, with an absolutely terrible 35 percent audience rating. Despite that, the movie managed to pull in $407.7 million worldwide. Though, more than 80 percent of that came from overseas. Certainly not what Universal was hoping for.
Johnny Depp is also starring in The Invisible Man remake and there is a script being written for a Van Helsing reboot, among other projects. With Bride of Frankenstein put on pause, the future of at least some of these projects is in doubt, but Deadline didn't make any mention of what's going on with those projects in their report. It's probably best that Universal doesn't rush into something until it's right, given what happened with The Mummy. Still, this isn't the best way to kick off a new cinematic universe. Not by a long shot.