In case you hadn’t noticed, Universal Pictures is slowly building up an impressive roster of interconnected monster films, reinvigorating one of the studio’s most iconic franchises. It all started a few years back when Star Trek and Transformers co-writer Alex Kurtzman and Fast & Furious screenwriter Chris Morgan teamed up to spearhead the creation and development of a new Universal Monsters Movie Universe. They assembled a writer’s room to craft new takes on beloved characters, and the first film in this universe will be the Kurtzman-directed The Mummy reboot (not Dracula Untold, which was semi-retrofitted to connect but has since been abandoned) starring Tom Cruise.
The various other films in development include a new Frankenstein starring Javier Bardem, The Invisible Man starring Johnny Depp, and a reboot of the Van Helsing property. It’s the latter that’s the focus today, as one of the Van Helsing reboot’s writers recently spoke a bit about the film, teasing a source of inspiration that may give us a clue as to the direction the film is heading.
Eric Heisserer and Jon Spaihts (Prometheus) are the writers tasked with bringing Van Helsing to life, and when HitFix recently spoke with Heisserer about his upcoming horror film Lights Out, he cited Mad Max as a major source of inspiration for the new and improved Van Helsing:
“I can only say that early on, our inspiration for his behavior and his mannerisms was all in Mad Max.”
It’s unclear if Heisserer is saying that this was an early idea that was abandoned or if this remains one of the influences on the film thus far, but regardless it’s certainly a different take than the Hugh Jackman-fronted Van Helsing movie that hit theaters in 2004.
The screenwriter went on to talk about the diversity of the Universal Monster movies, elaborating on the idea that while these characters will exist within the same universe, the films have the opportunity to delve into different genres:
“It’s early days right now. I can say that the decision that a lot of us made was to go and just write the best movie we could in our own corner and make sure it’s good on its own…and didn’t necessarily need to link arm-in arm-with anybody else. And to be tonally different from the other films. One may be a little bit more comedic, action-adventure-y, one can be very much a traditional horror piece. That kind of thing. And then we’ll see what happens as the projects evolve and we all get a chance to convene and talk, and make sure the movies feel like they’re all in the same world.”
Again, it’s early days and Van Helsing doesn’t yet have an actor attached, but Universal appears to be flaunting the big bucks to attract talented folks like Bardem, Depp, and Cruise, so the opportunity here is definitely huge. Here’s hoping The Mummy gets things off to a swell start when it hits theaters next year.