Universal Pictures is one of the few major studios that does not have any superhero franchises to build. Instead of trying to find an obscure comic book property to develop, the studio decided to delve into its iconic horror movie franchises by announcing a monster movie universe that relaunches classic genre icons like The Mummy and many more. Many assumed that the studio was copying the same successful template Marvel Studios uses for its Marvel Cinematic Universe, but a new report from Variety reveals the studio is taking a slightly different approach, while still borrowing elements from the MCU. Here's what Universal Pictures' Donna Langley had to say, confirming these Universal monsters will interact with each other.
"The characters will interact with each other across movies. We're incubating it at the moment, and we're taking the time to get it right."
Universal plans to release a new horror movie every year, starting with the Mummy Reboot, which Alex Kurtzman is directing. Production is scheduled to begin in early 2016, with the studio already setting a March 24, 2017 release date. No cast members have been announced so far, but this report reveals that other movies centering on Dracula, Van Helsing, The Bride of Frankenstein and The Wolfman are set to follow. Here's what writer-producer Chris Morgan, who is shepherding this entire franchise with Alex Kurtzman, had to say about this universe.
This is not a heightened world. We're exploring issues of family identity and questions of, 'Where do I belong in the world?'"
To prepare for this massive endeavor, both Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan immersed themselves in the studio's classic horror films, along with other iconic movies from the Hammer Films library. They also put together a writers room that includes Noah Hawley (Fargo TV series), Aaron Guzikowski (Prisoners), Ed Solomon (Men In Black) and Jay Basu (Monsters: Dark Continent), who will each be responsible for their own monster movie. Eric Heisserer and Jon Spaihts were recently added to this collective, signing on to write Van Helsing. They will collaborate with artists and designers who are crafting the look of each production. Here's what Alex Kurtzman added about creating this expansive mythology.
"We're creating a mythology, so we're looking at this canon and thinking, What are the rules? What can we break and what are the ones that are untouchable? The idea is that we have a deep bench of brains to consult with about how their monster fits into our world as we go forward."
Shortly before the release of last year's Dracula Untold, it was confirmed as the first entry in this franchise, although it wasn't originally conceived as such. An end credits scene was added where Dracula (Luke Evans) is seen in a modern-day market, with this scene designed as a "prologue" to the entire universe. It still isn't clear if Luke Evans will return as Dracula, or how exactly he will fit into this universe. Chris Morgan added that he thinks moviegoers are ready for a change of pace after being bombarded with so many superhero movies.
"Heroes tend to be perfect, but most people in an audience aren't ever going to know what it's like to be the smartest, strongest or fastest person alive. But there's a darkness inside everybody. And everyone wants to be able to turn a curse into empowerment. The monsters have been in the shadows, and now it's time to bring them out into the light."
With production set to begin on the Untitled Mummy Reboot in just a few months, hopefully we'll have some news on casting in the near future. The studio hasn't confirmed which project will come after The Mummy project, but it's clear the studio has a plan in place for a monster universe that could last for many years. What do you think about these new details about Universal's shared monster universe?