For a while there’s been (unsubstantiated) talk about Universal possibly rebooting its many classic monster movie franchises (Dracula, Frankenstein, etc.) to form a cohesive cinematic universe – going back to when powerhouse duo Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci got involved with projects like The Mummy and the Van Helsing reboot. Well, over the months since Orci hinted that this is indeed the plan, he and Kurtzman parted ways as working partners, which left the state of Universal’s monster movie plans in question.
Deadline, however, is now reporting that Kurtzman and Chris Morgan – writer/producer on the Fast and the Furious property since the mid-2000s and co-writer on last year’s 47 Ronin (both for Universal) – have been tapped by Universal, to serve as the architects on a rebooted classic monster universe. To be exact, one where the installments are put together in a “cohesive, connected way” rather than as “projects by disparate filmmaking teams” - possibly even a Shared Cinematic Universe (a la Marvel Studios’ superhero films), by the sound of it.
Franchises are hot commodities in Hollywood right now, and Universal is doing its part to keep up in that game; next year, for example, the studio will release new Fast and the Furious and Jurassic Park installments (no crossovers, unfortunately…), along with the Despicable Me franchise spinoff, Minions, and a handful of sequels to recent hit original intellectual properties (see: Ted 2, Pitch Perfect 2). In other words, rebooting the classic monsters franchise reads as being a natural continuation of that strategy (though, it’s probably not music to the ears of film buff who’re hoping for something a little more outside the box and innovative from the studio).
The problem, however, is that most of the aforementioned iconic monster properties are now in the public domain, so Universal will have to compete with other studios that’re putting modernized spins on old classic creatures. Universal, as it were, has the Dracula origins film Dracula Untold arriving in October – though it’s actually the Mummy reboot (scheduled for 2016) that is going to serve as the beginning of the new Cinematic Universe – but 20th Century Fox will be first to put a new spin on the Frankenstein mythology (no, this year’s I, Frankenstein doesn’t count), with the film Victor Frankenstein in Fall 2015.
Hence, Universal is moving quickly to get this monster universe off the ground; in addition to having Kurtzman and Morgan plan out “an interconnected slate of Monster films,” the studio (according to Deadline) has the pair of writer/producers onboard to oversee such matters as production and marketing. On top of all that, both Kurtzman and Morgan will be re-assessing in-development projects that have “preexisting attachments,” such as the currently-directorless Mummy reboot and the Invisible Man reboot that David S. Goyer had been developing (though, it’s been nearly three years without an update on that Goyer venture, so…).
It remains to be seen if Kurtzman and/or Morgan contribute to the writing on any of these classic monster reboots, given their other commitments. Personally, I would prefer to see them recruit either up and coming and/or less-mainstream filmmakers to handle the tasks of writing/directing these movies instead, a la Marvel Studios – and what Lucasfilm is now doing with Star Wars. That way, Kurtzman and Morgan would be serving as intermediaries between studio executives and the artists striving to realize their visions for resurrecting properties like Creature From the Black Lagoon and so forth, on the big screen.
Does the prospect of Universal rebooting its many classic monster properties to form a Cinematic Universe sound intriguing to you? Or are you already more than satisfied with getting your iconic creature fix from other sources (Showtime’s Penny Dreadful TV series, for example)?