Universal Pictures created a popular shared cinematic universe several decades before the Marvel Cinematic Universe was around; namely, the Universal Monsters Cinematic Universe, where such creatures as Dracula, The Wolfman, and Frankenstein’s Monster crossed paths in movies like House of Frankenstein (1944) and House of Dracula (1945). The Universal Monster Movies are now in the process of getting a 21st century makeover – and like every other shared cinematic universe currently under construction (the DC Extended Universe, the Hasbro Film Universe, and so forth), Universal’s rebooted Monster universe has its own creative ‘brain trust’ that is composed of writers/directors.
The two architects overseeing the design of the Universal Monster Movie Universe are Fast & Furious franchise writer/producer Chris Morgan and writer/director Alex Kurtzman, while such screenwriters as Noah Hawley (creator of the Fargo TV show), Jon Spaihts (Prometheus), and Eric Heisserer (The Thing (2011)) have either worked on and/or are actively developing scripts for Universal Monster Franchise Films – as they’re officially known. Universal’s new run of monster movies will kick-off in 2017 with The Mummy, as directed by Kurtzman and written by Spaihts.
Universal Pictures has now announced a February 15th, 2019 theatrical release date for the third installment in its rebooted Monster movie universe, to follow after The Mummy in 2017 and a currently-untitled Monster Franchise Film in 2018. Studios planting the flags for upcoming additions to their prized cinematic universes years ahead of time is common practice now, so it’s not surprising that Universal has gone ahead and claimed that February 2019 date well before any other studios have. For the time being, that mystery 2019 Monster Franchise Film won’t have to face another “event” film until three weeks after it hits theaters, when Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel arrives on the scene.
Right now, the in-development Monster Franchise Film that seems most likely to take the 2018 release date reserved by Universal is The Invisible Man, a film that has Johnny Depp attached to star as its namesake. As for 2019: the other Monster Franchise Film that seems to be actively making its way down the pipeline right now is Bride of Frankenstein, a movie that was reported to have recruited screenwriter David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Spider-Man), back in December 2015. It has been rumored for months now that Universal wants Angelina Jolie to play the Bride of Frankenstein herself, so if either she or another A-lister signs on for the movie then it may yet wind up on the fast-track for a 2018 release, ahead of Invisible Man.
One big question hanging over the Universal Monster Movie Universe’s head is: will it have a place for Dracula Untold? The 2014 film, which tells the story of how Prince Vlad Tepes (Luke Evans) became the legendary vampire known as Dracula, was originally designed to kick-off Universal’s new shared monster film universe, but the movie’s middling-to-negative critical reception and semi-moderate critical success ($217 million worldwide on a $70 million budget) left the future of Evans’ Dracula in doubt. The Universal Monster Franchise Films are expected to resemble dark superhero movies similar to Dracula Untold more than supernatural horror flicks, so Evans’ vampiric onscreen counterpart would feel at home in that universe, given his backstory.
Whether or not Evans’ Dracula will actually be part of this new monster movie universe, that’s another matter. Back in 2015, Kurtzman said “The Mummy isn’t connected to Dracula [Untold],” but was vague about the latter’s ties to the rebooted Universal monster movie universe that he and Morgan are plotting out – simply stating that it’s “an ongoing conversation.”
The Mummy will open in U.S. theaters on June 9th, 2017, followed by Untitled Universal Monster Franchise Films on April 13th, 2018 and February 15th, 2019.
Source: Universal Pictures