For the past few years, Universal has been at work on rebooting its series of classic monster movies for a crossover universe. While the studio was a bit on the fence about whether or not Dracula Untold should be that beginning, that film’s lack of success has cleared the way for next month’s The Mummy to be the official beginning of what the studio has now dubbed “Dark Universe.”
Universal has sent out a press release with a video highlighting the history of these monsters—specifically Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Wolfman, The Phantom of the Opera, The Bride of Frankenstein, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon—featuring music from Danny Elfman and a new logo that will be used specifically for these reboots.
Additionally, as we previously reported, Bill Condon (Beauty and the Beast) is set to direct Bride of Frankenstein. Universal has announced that this will be their next Dark Universe movie, and it will hit theaters on February 14, 2019 (there will no longer be a Dark Universe movie released on April 13, 2018).
“I’m very excited to bring a new Bride of Frankenstein to life on screen, particularly since James Whale’s original creation is still so potent,” stated Condon in a press release. “The Bride of Frankenstein remains the most iconic female monster in film history, and that’s a testament to Whale’s masterpiece—which endures as one of the greatest movies ever made.” As we previously reported, David Koepp’s script sees this version of Bride as a tale of “female liberation.”
In their press release, Universal states that the core group of creative talent on Dark Universe going forward will be The Mummy director Alex Kurtzman, Fast & Furious franchise screenwriter Chris Morgan, writer-director Christoper McQuarrie, and Koepp.
Furthermore, the press release confirms that Johnny Depp is on board to play The Invisible Man and Javier Bardem will play Frankenstein. The casting process for The Bride of Frankenstein is currently underway. As for whether or not the stars of The Mummy—Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, and Sofia Boutella—will return for future installments, we’ll probably have to see the movie, which opens June 9th (although since they all took the time to pose for the photo below, I think we can count on all of them returning).
It’s likely that at least Crowe, who plays Henry Jekyll, returns for future movies. The Mummy introduces Jekyll’s organization Prodigium, whose “mission is to track, study and—when necessary—destroy evil embodied in the form of monsters in our world. Working outside the aegis of any government, and with practices concealed by millennia of secrecy, Prodigium protects the public from knowledge of the evil that exists just beyond the thin membrane of civilized society…and will go to any length to contain it.”
I’ll admit that Dark Universe definitely sounds better than the Prodigium Universe.
What’s interesting about this press release is what it omits. Rather than laying out a vast series of movies, the only one that’s really confirmed at this point is Bride of Frankenstein even though Depp is now The Invisible Man (I assume Bardem will be in Bride of Frankenstein). There’s no mention of Van Helsing, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Wolfman, or The Phantom of the Opera. I find that encouraging because it means they’re taking these one at a time rather than trying to franchise out the whole thing and then fill it in later.