Filmmaker Alex Kurtzman sounds uncertain about his future with Universal Pictures’ Dark Universe following the disappointing returns of The Mummy. Billed as one of the architects of Universal’s new monster movie series with filmmaker Chris Morgan, Kurtzman was undoubtedly the biggest creative force behind the reboot of the Boris Karloff classic, serving as the film’s director and one of its co-writers.
The prospects for The Mummy certainly seemed promising out of the gate, considering the hiring of box office draw Tom Cruise in the lead, as well as Oscar-winner Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, a character who was later revealed to be a connecting point for all future Dark Universe films.
But in a competitive summer movie marketplace, The Mummy was immediately met with an uphill battle, thanks to mixed reviews at best, a dismal 16 percent “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and an underwhelming $32 million domestic opening. And despite a much stronger international box office, analysts said the movie was on track to lose $95 million for Universal.
Now that the dust has settled, it appears Kurtzman is weighing his options regarding his role in the future of the Dark Universe. During the Television Critics Association press tour where Kurtzman was promoting Star Trek: Discovery, the filmmaker was asked by IGN about his role in the Dark Universe going forward. Kurtzman replied, “You know the truth is, I don’t know. I really don’t know. Haven’t really decided, is the honest answer.”
For the time being, Kurtzman is attached to several Dark Universe films as a producer, including director Bill Condon’s remake of The Bride of Frankenstein (which is the next film on the Dark Universe release slate), as well as The Invisible Man starring Johnny Depp, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. According to IGN, Kurtzman in a separate interview addressed whether future Dark Universe films will be tailored more for foreign audiences, given The Mummy’s large international appeal.
“It’s hard for me to know, is the truth. I think every movie will be different. I certainly know that the legacy of the monsters have endured across the world throughout the years. Almost a century. So I have to believe American audiences will find it too with the right ingredients.”
Whether Kurtzman is involved or not, Universal seriously has to double down its efforts to keep the Dark Universe alive despite the unraveling of The Mummy. The first thing they need to do is allow filmmakers like Kurtzman to do their jobs and not relinquish the reins to A-list stars (Cruise reportedly took control of The Mummy). Universal’s classic monster movies, after all, are stocked with rich characters, and filmmakers like Kurtzman wouldn’t have gotten involved with the Dark Universe in the first place if he didn’t understand what made the original films classics to begin with.
If the Dark Universe moves forward by letting directors see through their visions and allows them to maintain the source material’s classic sensibilities instead of rebooting them into action films, only then will the reboots succeed. The good thing for Kurtzman, if he remains with the Dark Universe, is that Condon is at the helm of The Bride of Frankenstein, and people are less likely to criticize him thanks to his understanding of the original film classic as the director and the Oscar-winning writer of Gods and Monsters — which delved into director James Whale’s complicated life during the making of the Karloff/Elsa Lanchester classic.
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