The idea of the shared universe is one that has become very popular over the last decade or so, being pushed into prominence by the hugely successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. One of the most well-publicized failures of launching such a universe was Universal's attempt at a Dark Universe, a cinematic world in which all of the studio's legendary monsters would come together to wreak havoc. Well, Universal Chairwoman Donna Langley believes that the Dark Universe was ultimately a "failed" experiment, to which it is difficult not to respond with a heavily sarcastic "you don't say".
"We had an attempt at interlocking our monsters and it was a failed attempt. What we realized is that these characters are indelible for a reason, but there's no urgency behind them and certainly the world was not asking for a shared universe of classic monsters. But we have gone back and created an approach that's filmmaker-first, any budget range."
These comments from Donna Langley come across as being both stating the obvious and one of the biggest understatements in recent memory. The attempt at a shared cinematic universe and blockbuster franchise only managed to produce one sub-par movie in Tom Cruise's lackluster The Mummy before collapsing into nothing. At the very least, her comments show that the studio heads are aware of the missteps that were taken that ultimately lead to the Dark Universe dying before it even had a chance to live.
To her credit, Langley does not try to pass the blame or try to get around the fact that the Dark Universe was such a monumental failure. She admits that trying to create a universe that combines all of Universal's classic monsters was something that nobody really wanted, and it through their own failings that the shared universe did not end up being the success they had hoped for. Often in these cases, big studios like Universal do not learn the lessons they should, but it sounds very much like Donna Langley has taken from the experience what she needed to.
She points out that though the characters are iconic individually, no one is clamoring to see them come together in a shared universe. Ultimately, the shared cinematic universe may have been successful for some, but that does not mean it is always appropriate. It is a shame the studio did not realize this beforehand, but they have taken from it they can, and are using it to take their classic monsters in a different direction.
This direction begins with the upcoming adaptation of The Invisible Man starring Elisabeth Moss. Trapped in a violent, controlling relationship with a wealthy and brilliant scientist, Moss' Cecilia Kass escapes in the dead of night and disappears into hiding, aided by her sister, their childhood friend, and his teenage daughter. But when Cecilia's abusive ex commits suicide and leaves her a generous portion of his vast fortune, Cecilia suspects his death was a hoax.
As a series of eerie coincidences turns lethal, threatening the lives of those she loves, Cecilia's sanity begins to unravel as she desperately tries to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see. The Invisible Man opens in theaters on February 28. This comes to us from The Hollywood Reporter.