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.

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  • Cody McGowan

    Only way they can move forward with this is if the monsters are actually (super)heroes.
    Only way it would be interesting is if the monsters are actually (super)villains.

    • Cale

      Why not have them balance across that thin blurry line between the two?

      • Cody McGowan

        Because that would by default make them heroes. The characters in the 30′s were monsters, sometimes sympathetic, but hardly heroic in any sense. But it’s not like a major studio is going to build a franchise where the main character is just evil. Hammer did it in the 50′s and 60′s, but they weren’t anything you could call high budget movies.

    • t

      Shut up you tool.

      • Cody McGowan

        Why would someone name themselves with a lower-case ‘t’? Wait… t..t…t..time to get out of here!

  • GUest

    Can’t be worse than Penny Dreadful (which started off great before taking the most epic nose dive in the history of 8-episode seasons).

    • faniacmagtumblr

      Penny Dreadful was a fantastic serie, try to live with this reality man.

      • guest


      • Cody McGowan

        I liked Penny Dreadful a lot. And if they did something like that, maybe a monster franchise could be OK. But honestly, in every episode of that show, I keep asking myself ‘when are they going to drop the ball, jump the shark, or otherwise mess this up?’ I can’t shake the feeling that even though we got 8 really pretty good episodes, the series is just one wrong move away from being absolute crap.

  • agent777

    So this is why that cheap ass, double dip, redundant DVD box set is coming out.

  • Dave

    Sometimes i don’t understand…

    • Lewida Funji

      Money, money, money…

      • agent777

        And Universal loves to make a dishonest dollar.

  • faniacmagtumblr

    Hahahahha How PENNY DREADFUL has been a success are now they want to create a movie that gather the gang of monsters but versus the grat series of John Logan, this sounds like catátrofe style “Van Helsing”

    • agent777

      Huh? Universal did the whole shared universe thing way back in the 1940′s.

  • appolox

    An Avengers style monster movie could have potential if done right. They need to come up with a solid reason for all these monsters to somehow meet.

  • Robert Hall

    I like Universal, but I think this is a really lame idea and I simply can’t see it working out.

  • RiddleThemThis

    Interesting idea, I’m looking forward to this as long as all these films don’t feel like they’re building up to something bigger and can individually hold their own.

  • Strong Enough

    Travis Beacham is avaiable. lmao

  • Dan Robert Head

    awesome idea i love universal monster movies

  • Sameer Shahnewaz

    a universe where monsters from classic horror literature co-existing ? you mean the awesome show called Penny Dreadful ?

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  • DNAsplitter

    Why? Universal has been struggling remaking their original properties individually (the awful Wolfman remake and Indiana Jones vibe Mummy trilogy that ended w Jet Li as a kung fu mummy) so why try to put them all together into one film? Van Helsing was a semi-fun B entertainment movie that relied too heavily on terrible looking CGI – and failed to make the type of $$ the studio needed to warrant a sequel. And the only other film that I can think of is Shane Black’s Monster Squad from ’87 which is also a silly B camp film that also failed to make money at the BO.
    In what sounded like a promising reboot to their Mummy was quickly squandered when the oringally hired Mama director to revamp the film w a scary tone was shifted to reverted back to the “four-quadrant, family friendly appeal” tone from the Fraiser films.

    It seems that Universal doesn’t understand the nature of these films. When originally released they were terrifying to their audiences. People went to get scared. They even pushed the bounderies in cinema for their scare factors (especially Frankenstein). So why are they trying to go for the four quadrant approach with their new series? And to top it off why are they going the Avengers route with them teaming up? Is this just a shift in Hollywood where all the studios are now going to try and mimic Marvel?

    These films don’t need large $100M budgets. They just need to find the right scary/intense tone that the originals carried and find a way to connect to audiences to give us the scares that the generation before use felt when they first saw these creatures on the screen for the 1st time.

    • lord jim

      you absolutely right, but back then grown ups brought the money, now it´s teenagers, so hollywood stopped believing in movies for grown ups.

  • appolox

    Man, Matt really doesn’t know the difference between an editorial and a news story. Does he?

  • mattinacan

    look, it’s not fair to call Kurtzman and Orci “writers”. It is offensive to real writers out there.

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