Universal Studios had high hopes for its 2017 reboot of the Mummy franchise, with planned to use the movie as a launchpad for a sprawling, shared universe of monster movies starring characters like the Bride of Frankenstein and the Wolf Man. According to a new report, though, those plans have been on hold.
Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan, the two writer/producers initially tapped by Universal to map out the studio’s grand vision for its “Dark Universe,” have reportedly left the project in favor of other endeavors elsewhere. Kurtzman is currently working as an executive producer on CBS’ Star Trek: Discovery in addition to a number of other projects he’s involved in because of a deal he has with the network. Morgan, on the other hand, has returned to the Fast and Furious franchise and is said to be working on a spin-off film starring the Rock and Jason Statham (and not Tyreese Gibson).
The filmmakers’ decision to leave isn’t at all surprising given the Dark Universe’s sharp loss of momentum following the Mummy’s lackluster box office performance. While it raked in over $400 million, those numbers were nowhere near what Universal wanted or needed out of its multi-million dollar investment in the Tom Cruise-led movie. This plan has also been troubled since even before The Mummy. 2014's Dracula Untold was initially positioned as the first film in a shared universe and then discarded.
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Universal’s president of production Peter Cramer was measured in the way he acknowledged that the studio was still licking its wounds:
“We’ve learned many lessons throughout the creative process on Dark Universe so far, and we are viewing these titles as filmmaker-driven vehicles, each with their own distinct vision. We are not rushing to meet a release date and will move forward with these films when we feel they are the best versions of themselves.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Universal hasn’t entirely scrapped the idea of making more new monster flicks, but it’s now rethinking whether a shared universe that relies on the star power of big names like Cruz, Angelina Jolie, and Javier Bardem is really the direction it wants to go in. A shared universe could definitely work, but if Universal’s going to do it, they might want to try being a little bit more subtle about this next time around.