Screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan to Create Crossover Universe for UNIVERSAL MONSTERS Starting with THE MUMMY

     July 16, 2014


Last year, we reported that Universal had hired Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman to create a crossover universe employing the studios famous monsters such as Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, The Mummy, et al.  But a few months ago, Orci and Kurtzman dissolved their long partnership, and have gone their separate ways.  However, Universal still wants their Avengers-style crossover world featuring the studio’s treasured creatures, and has now brought on Chris Morgan to team up with Kurtzman on the project.  Morgan is a favorite at the studio having written the scripts for every Fast & Furious movie since Tokyo Drift, which is good because when I go to a Fast & Furious movie, it’s because of the screenwriting.

Hit the jump for more on what Kurtzman, Morgan, and Universal have planned for the classic monsters.

abbott-and-costello-meet-frankenstein-posterAccording to Deadline, Universal wants to create a unified world for their monsters.  Presumably, this includes the monsters that were featured in the studio’s terrific Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection Blu-ray set: Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, The Wolf Man, the Bride of Frankenstein, the Invisible Man, the Mummy, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon (the Phantom of the Opera is also in the set, but he’s a bit of stretch).  These crossovers aren’t anything new.  Universal stretched these franchises with films such as Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.  Dracula, the Wolf Man, and Frankenstein’s Monster shared the screen as recently as 2004 with Van Helsing.  Putting these monsters together in the same movie isn’t a new concept.

However, it’s clear that Universal is desperate to follow Marvel’s playbook, and they’ve decided to put Kurtzman and Morgan in charge.  Deadline reports that it’s not set in stone if they’ll handle screenwriting duties on these movies, “but they will soon be going around town enlisting talent to bring new cinematic life to these enduring characters from lore, literature and Universal’s own library.”  While the studio already has another monster property set for this year (Dracula Untold), this will be the beginning of an entirely new franchise, so even if Dracula Untold is a hit, that doesn’t mean it will be part of the new crossover universe.

In addition to hiring people to tackle this new universe, Kurtzman and Morgan will also “work closely with production, marketing, promotions and consumer product to support the revival,” because I guess it’s important for them to know what the toys and bed sheets look like.

This whole project will kick off with the reboot of The Mummy, which was already in development, but lost its director, Andres Muschietti (Mama), a couple months ago over creative differences.  The studio originally wanted a darker tale, but then Muschietti left when Universal decided to go for a “four-quadrant, more family-friendly action-adventure blockbuster,” instead.  It’s unknown if the family-friendly approach is still the plan now that The Mummy is supposed to be part of a larger monster universe.  The movie is still being targeted for an April 22, 2016 release date.

dracula-bela-lugosiI can’t help but feel that this is a doomed endeavor.  That’s partly because I don’t think Kurtzman and Morgan are particularly good writers, but it’s also because these Universal Monsters are distinctive to their original incarnations.  Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster are in the public domain.  Anyone can make a movie using those characters.  Universal doesn’t own Dracula or Frankenstein’s Monster.  It’s Bela Lugosi as Dracula.  It’s Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s Monster.  It’s a specific actor tied to a specific role tied to a specific time.  If you get a modern actor dressed up in the Frankenstein’s Monster design conjured by original makeup artist Jack Pierce, it looks like parody.  Or, you can do a completely different Frankenstein design.  You can make him look cool, revamp his origin, and make him try to appeal to modern audiences.  I’m sure that will work out.

Perhaps if Kurtzman and Morgan had a track record of exciting movies I would give them the benefit of the doubt.  But this looks like another example of a studio chasing a formula because they don’t know how to recreate the quality.

Around The Web

Latest News

Watch: Four JURASSIC WORLD Journals Featuring Chris Pratt Being Chris Pratt

Pratt certainly steals the spotlight, but all four videos have loads of behind-the-scenes footage well worth checking out.

Disney Pulls the Plug on TRON 3

Disney has decided not to move forward on the 'Tron' sequel from director Joseph Kosinski.

ANT-MAN: Evangeline Lilly Announces Marvel’s Micro-Tech Challenge

Girls ages 14 to 18 can win a trip to the 'Ant-Man' premiere by building a project using micro-technology.

LUMBERJANES Getting a Live-Action Movie at 20th Century Fox

Black List scribe Will Widger is set to adapt Shannon Watters, Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis and Brooke A. Allen's delightful comic.

HEAVEN KNOWS WHAT Review: Love is a Drug in the Safdie Brothers’ NYC-Set Drama

The Safdie Brothers' narrative follow-up to their great parental drama 'Daddy Longlegs' stars Arielle Holmes and Caleb Landry Jones as heroin addicts scrapping for dope, booze, and shelter in NYC.

New INSIDE OUT Clip Introduces Riley’s Personality Islands

Find out the difference between a standard memory and a core memory.

LOVE LETTERS TO THE DEAD: Catherine Hardwicke in Talks to Direct YA Adaptation

Hardwick will direct the hot YA property from a script by author Ava Dellaira.

SPECTACULAR NOW Director to Helm F. Scott Fitzgerald Tale WEST OF SUNSET

James Ponsoldt will turn his talents from David Foster Wallace to the final years of 'The Great Gatsby' author Fitzgerald's life in Hollywood.

EASY A Director Will Gluck to Helm Disney’s Untitled Lottery Project

The director will also oversee a re-write converting the originally male-led film to a female-centric project.

RESULTS Review: Guy Pearce and Cobie Smulders Shine in Odd Rom-Com Riff

The director of 'Computer Chess' puts a weird spin on the romantic comedy genre to mixed results.

Page 1 of 3,97112345...102030...Last »