In a welcome piece of news for fans of the classic monsters, Universal Pictures is pumping the brakes on their interconnected Dark Universe and teaming up with Blumhouse to swing their classic monster revamps in a new direction with The Invisible Man. Insidious mainstay and Upgrade writer/director Leigh Whannell, will write and direct an update on the classic for Universal and Blumhouse, which won’t be focused on building a monster universe
It’s a major shift for Universal, who assembled an A-list lineup of talent (including Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, and Russell Crowe) for the Dark Universe before the franchise ever fully got off the ground. So how did the deal with Blumhouse come together? With Happy Death Day 2U arriving in theaters this week, I recently hopped on the phone for a chat with Blumhouse chief Jasom Blum and the producer clarified that he’s not overseeing a new monster universe for Universal for the time being, nor was that the path he wanted to take To the contrary, the studio is taking it one film at a time and, first and foremost, the project came about because Whannell came up with a great pitch.
“I don’t believe in saying “We’re going to do movies about this” and then trying to find a movie about it. So I didn’t believe in going and saying ‘I want to do all these movies’, and then try to find directors to do them. We have a director who… we’ve also done six or seven movies with, pitched us this spectacular idea about Invisible Man. We told him to write it, he wrote it, then we took it to the studio and said ‘We’d love to do this and this is what we would do with it,’ and they said yes.”
While Blum is naturally keeping the details of Whannell’s project mum for now, he did talk a bit about what he saw in the pitch and what made him want to take it to Universal.
“It was like the Blumhouse version of The Invisible Man, it’s a lower-budget movie. It’s not dependent on special effects, CGI, stunts. It’s super character-driven, it’s really compelling, it’s trilling, it’s edgy, it feels new. Those were all things that felt like they fit with what our company does. And it happened to be an Invisible Man story, so it checked both boxes. And we responded to it because I think Leigh is just an A+ director.”
Blum also said that despite the IP appeal of The Invisible Man or any similar classic monster projects that might come down the road, they’re still sticking to Blumhouse’s signature low budget model. When I asked Blum about what kind of budget they’re aiming for, he explained:
“We’re definitely in our zone, I don’t know if it’s going to be strictly five [million]. It’s not going to be more than ten, I don’t think.”
Most importantly, Blum and his team are focusing on getting The Invisible Man right before putting the wheels in motion on any other monster movies. However, according to his recent interview with CinePop The Invisible Man is expected to come together quickly, and after that, they’re hopeful to make more. And it’s possible that one of those movies could come from the old pile of Dark Universe scripts. In fact, Blum doesn’t just have the option to look at pre-existing scripts, he says they already have.
“We have actually, we haven’t figured it out yet, but we’ve looked at a couple older scripts and we would be open to doing that”