Earlier this week, we spoke with the lovely and obnoxiously talented David Koepp for an upcoming episode of our interview series Collider Connected. Koepp’s new film as a writer/director, You Should Have Left, opens next week. You Should Have Left is a spooky haunted house thriller with Kevin Bacon and Amanda Seyfried, and its connection to both the horror genre and to studio Universal had us wondering what the status of his Bride of Frankenstein script was.
If you’ll recall, Bride of Frankenstein was initially planned as one of the bigger, starrier entries in the failed Dark Universe experiment, meant to unite the classic Universal Monsters in a single shared continuum. Originally scheduled to be the second movie in the series after Tom Cruise’s The Mummy opened in the summer of 2017, it had a tentative February 2019 release date. Beauty and the Beast director Bill Condon was going to direct Koepp’s script, with Angelina Jolie rumored for the role of the shock-haired Bride. But by October 2017, the dominoes fell: the release date was pulled, Dark Universe architects Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan bailed, and the Dark Universe seemed extinct, with the Bride of Frankenstein along with it. Sets for the movie were already being constructed but were struck, actors quietly sent home.
But, true to form, there seems to be life in this Bride.
“That was one thing I did during quarantine – I brought back Bride of Frankenstein into a place where I kind of always wanted it to be. Universal was very gracious to let me try again. Because they had geared up and shut down famously in the Dark Universe fiasco. Well, not fiasco, but disappointment. So I have a version now and they have a version that we all really like. I think they’re talking to directors now,” Koepp said.
When we asked if it would be in the cost effective, highly profitable Blumhouse model of The Invisible Man, one of the year’s first big, pre-coronavirus hits (a new Dracula is being planned by Karyn Kusama), and Koepp said yes, more or less.
“It’s not the great big, $150 million extravaganza with giant movie stars,” Koepp explained. “It’s not as scaled down as Invisible Man but much more reasonable, doable thing, with, I think, a really cool idea and it’s all present day.”
We also had wondered if, along with Kurtzman and Morgan, Universe had tried to recruit Koepp to shepherd the Dark Universe and its series of interconnective narratives. “I’ve worked with Universal for a really long time. They send me stuff and ask for ideas. And I’m happy to consult. We were all trying to pitch in and make something out of that,” Koepp said, diplomatically.
“Not all ideas work out,” Koepp explained. “To their credit, what I really admired about Universal is they threw their hands up and went, ‘Hold on. This isn’t working out. Let’s stop and think for a year or two.’ I thought that was really smart. And big corporations don’t often do that. There aren’t a lot of New Coke moments where they go, ‘This is not as we hoped. We’re going to stop and go off on this other direction.’” The direction they went into, with smaller budgets, more creative risks, and an emphasis on scares over bigger superhero/adventure movie aspirations, has already paid off. We can’t wait to see what this new, streamlined Bride of Frankenstein looks like.
Here’s what Koepp had to tell us about Bride of Frankenstein. Look for more from my interview with Koepp on Collider soon.