Just weeks before the release of Tom Cruise‘s “The Mummy,” Universal announced that film would be the first in a new franchise, connecting all of their classic movie monsters into one universe. A Dark Universe.
The announcement received a mix of anticipation and skepticism. But the announcements continued as “Beauty and the Beast” director Bill Condon signed on to direct “Bride of Frankenstein,” with a 2019 release date. Further reveals included the casting of Javier Bardem as Frankenstein’s Monster, Johnny Depp as The Invisible Man, and Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll.
But all of that may now be in jeopardy as the producers developing the franchise are walking away.
THR reports that Alex Kurtzman, whose production credits include everything from “Alias” to “Star Trek,” had a contract with Universal that ended in September. He is currently working on the CBS All Access series “Star Trek: Discovery.” And producer Chris Morgan is back to work in the “Fast and Furious” franchise, writing the spin-off for Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham’s characters.
Many cite poor box office numbers for “The Mummy” as further evidence of the Dark Universe’s troubled future. That film earned only $80 million in domestic box office receipts. However, the film did very well overseas, where it earned nearly $330M internationally.
And it now appears “Bride of Frankenstein” is having problems, too. Pre-production stalled in October. The February 2019 release date has been put on hold and the script is reportedly not complete. Add to that the fact that they still haven’t cast the titular Bride of Frankenstein. Rumors abound that they approached Angelina Jolie for the role, but that she turned it down.
It should be noted that Universal has not cancelled the franchise. But now that Kurtzman and Morgan are out, nothing can go forward until the studio finds a new leader.