Illustration for article titled What On Earth Is Universal Doing With Its Monster Movies?

The Hollywood Reporter says that Universal's just hired a slew of writers for their upcoming reboot of the classic monster films. But here's the weird bit: They're not necessarily hiring them for specific films. Instead, Universal's apparently trying to create a "writers collective" for the new universe.

The report has Noah Hawley (the Fargo TV show), Aaron Guzikowski (Prisoners), and and Ed Solomon (Men In Black, Now You See Me) joining the already-hired-for-The Mummy Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan. The Hollywood Reporter also adds its confirmation to the earlier story that Guzikowski will write The Wolf Man for Universal.


But the fact that Guzikowski has a specific project that's "his" doesn't really mean anything, if the Hollywood Reporter's right and Universal's idea is to transfer the idea of a TV show writers' room to its film franchises. Apparently, Universal wants Hawley, Guzikowski, Solomon, Kurtzman, and Morgan to become a brain trust like the one that grew out of Toy Story's writers at Pixar. All five will work on each other's films and help out whenever needed.

It's an interesting plan. Universal's made no secret that they're hoping to turn Dracula/Wolf Man/The Mummy/Frankenstein into a universe akin to Marvel's. They are following the blueprint we've seen so often since Marvel's films started dominating the pop culture landscape: Give each character a film, start an individual franchise, but set them all in the same universe for the eventual team-up movie.

Marvel's generally policed its universe through producers, not writers. Marvel President Kevin Feige has gotten a lot of credit for that, being called an "auteur producer" by Captain America: The Winter Soldier director Joe Russo. (Note: I highly recommend that Wired piece, it's a great look at how Marvel has been run.) Also getting credit is Joss Whedon, who has, in the Phase 2 Marvel films, stepped in to keep coherent the stories and characters that will affect his Avengers mega-event.


No matter what, there's clearly a hierarchy in that set-up. Which is a far cry from a "writers collective." And, whatever else you may say about Marvel and DC's plans, they're both thinking far ahead about how one film leads into the next. Universal's plan seems to be to hope the writers can work out among themselves how to interlock their films. There isn't a singular vision driving this other than Universal wanting a mega-franchise of their very own.

While Kurtzman and Morgan are working on The Mummy, which is slated for next summer, and Guzikowski has The Wolfman, Solomon and Hawley are supposedly waiting to get projects of their own until Universal solidifies their plans. Which better come soon, if they actually want to put anything in The Mummy.


It's not an entirely bad plan — it obviously works on a lot of TV shows to have a writers room with this kind of set up. And, if it works, it solves the problem of what to do if you lose the one guy who was keeping the whole universe on track. We'll just have to wait until The Mummy comes out on June 24, 2015 and Untitled Second Monster Movie comes out on April 21, 2017.

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