The Bride of Frankenstein can crawl back into her crypt for a nice long sleep, as it doesn't look like that thriller is moving forward anytime soon. Universal's planned Dark Universe franchise is in dire straights as producers Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan have officially jumped ship. Their exit comes in the wake of Tom Cruise's The Mummy failing miserably at the box office.
Wolfman, Bride of Frankenstein and the Invisible Man were all supposed to get movies that would have interconnected to create a larger world known as Dark Universe, and Universal's plans were pretty ambitious. But the franchise is sinking quick. And according to reports, every planned upcoming movie is currently dead in the water.
It's been just five months since Universal released that ominous photo-shopped image of Dark Universe cast mates Johnny Depp, Russell Crowe, Tom Cruise and Javier Bardem all seemingly in a room together. But as poorly as that was conceived, the rest of this series, which would have rebooted Universal's classic monster movies, is being called into question. Writer-producers Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan were hired to be the architects of this grand undertaking. Now, they are leaving for bigger and hopefully better things.
Kurtzman's deal lapsed in September, and he decided not to re-up after watching Tom Cruise's Mummy reboot sink faster than the Titanic. It is a certified bomb. He is now an executive producer on CBS All Access' new hit sci-fi drama Star Trek Discovery. He also has an overall deal at CBS that has him overseeing a half-dozen other shows. Morgan is currently writing the controversial Fast and the Furious spin-off which stars Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, reprising their roles as Hobbs and Deckard Shaw.
The Bride of Frankenstein was set to be the next Dark Universe movie under director and writer Bill Condon. Pre-production was underway, but Universal pulled the plug on that last month. At the time, executives claimed Condon's script wasn't ready. But there may have been something bigger at play. Angeline Jolie was wanted for the lead for a long time, but she is now definitely not attached. Condon is still on the project, but there is no set start date at this time, and the originally announced February 14, 2019 release date has been scrubbed from Universal's release schedule.
The Mummy arrived in June, and only managed to earn a paltry $409 million at the global box office. The movie is budgeted at $125 million with an extra $100+ for marketing. It won't make most of it's money back in the long run, and Universal considers it a bomb. A new office building on the Universal lot had been revamped for Dark Universe, which is also factoring into the cost, especially if it has to be redecorated here over the next year, to clean out any existence of this terrible idea. Having been completely revamped in full-on monster regalia, the building now sits mostly empty. So squatters take note, you could be the next Steven Spielberg (look up your history folks, if you don't catch that reference).
Universal Pictures claims it's not ready to give up the ghost just yet. And they are currently exploring their options. One plan that has been tossed around before is handing the franchise over to Blumhouse, who could produce a bunch of awesome monster movies on the cheap really fast. Or giving the reigns to another high profile producer. However it all plays out, the concept needs a major overhaul to move forward. Universal president of production Peter Cramer had this to say to The Hollywood Reporter.
"We've learned many lessons throughout the creative process on Dark Universe so far, and we are viewing these titles as filmmaker-driven vehicles, each with their own distinct vision. We are not rushing to meet a release date and will move forward with these films when we feel they are the best versions of themselves."
Though The Mummy and their Dark Universe seems to be causing a major headache for executives, Universal has had an otherwise descent year. They had two big wins, with Fate of the Furious in April bringing in over $1 billion worldwide, as well as July's animated sequel Despicable Me 3, which is another $1 billion winner. They also have two of the highest profiting movies with Blumhouse's Split, which pulled in $278 million on a $9 million budget, and Get Out, which took in $253 million off just a $4.5 million budget, and is being touted as an Oscar contender.