Following the implosion of Universal Pictures’ proposed Dark Universe series of films due to the failure of “The Mummy” reboot, plans for an elaborate series of big-budget efforts involving the studio’s classic monsters were ditched.
Announced in early 2017, the hope was for new versions of Frankenstein (with Javier Bardem), The Invisible Man (with Johnny Depp), the Bride of Frankenstein (with Angelina Jolie), The Wolfman, and Dracula with the linking element being mysterious multi-national organization Prodigium led by Russell Crowe’s Dr. Henry Jekyll.
When that was scrapped, many of the proposed projects simply stopped and the overall plan changed into doing lower cost and more filmmaker-driven standalone films allowing for creative and edgier spins on the characters, harder ratings and differing tones.
Australian filmmaker Leigh Whannell’s “The Invisible Man” is the first of this new wave of films and arrives later this month. Shot for a tight $7 million budget and adopting a 1990s stalker thriller tone, it has already had at least one screening to a rousing reception and tracking figures suggest it will have a $20-40 million opening before it arrives at month’s end.
Also on the way is “The Invisible Woman,” an original pitch from director Elizabeth Banks which is said to be wildly different from Whannell’s film and has no connection, and Paul Feig’s “Dark Army”. The one that might come after that is also the one that was furthest along before Dark Universe was axed – “The Bride of Frankenstein”.
Both Oscar-nominated producer Amy Pascal and actor/director John Krasinski have reportedly been exploring ways to reimagine the property for the cinema – the pair following on from the original plans which would’ve had Jolie and Bardem starring in a Bill Condon-directed film.
Pascal, who moved her overall production deal to Universal from Sony Pictures last summer, has reportedly engaged screenwriter David Koepp (“Jurassic Park”) to help. Koepp has previously described his take as one about “a female monster created for companionship who has quite the opposite in mind”.
Reports differ as to whether Jolie remains committed to the character, but one source for the studio says “nothing has been solidified in an official capacity”. For now, it seems the studio is essentially open to a known filmmaker with a “new and inventive take” on the material so don’t be shocked if more classic monsters films come along in the near future.