Two years ago, The Dark Universe was announced - but it didn’t last long. As Hollywood studios continue to search for the next big trend in mainstream filmmaking, the concepts that have often been huge money makers are the ones that continue to expand in a logical and intriguing manner, building franchises and creative worlds out of characters and storytelling that the public can’t get enough of.
Of course, to even find themselves in this position in the first place, studios are doing everything they can to uncover that initial gem that can carry multiple films and possibly even spinoffs. For Universal, cinematic gold was struck back in 2015 with the revival of the Jurassic Park franchise, now known as Jurassic World. However, as anyone who follows the film industry can tell you, every studio wants more than one successful franchise and the ultimate goal is to build an ongoing cinematic universe, in the vein of Marvel or DC’s highly lucrative and prolific output.
This being the case, it’s now been exactly two years since Universal announced via Twitter that they were tailoring something they’d dubbed The Dark Universe. The concept was meant to revive Universal’s classic legacy of monster films, including such memorable titles as The Invisible Man and Creature From the Black Lagoon. The first film to kick everything off was the Tom Cruise-led reboot of The Mummy, designed to introduce specific characters and plots that would help build the proposed universe.
Unfortunately, two years on, all anyone has seen of The Dark Universe has been the aforementioned The Mummy, which mustered a lukewarm domestic box office reception before going on to redeem itself (financially at least) with decent international box office numbers. As far as the other promised Dark Universe titles are concerned, things took another substantial hit when “Universe” architects Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan dropped out of the project, followed by Universal’s next release in the series, The Bride of Frankenstein, being put on indefinite hold. And while The Invisible Man was meant to feature Johnny Depp as the titular character, Depp’s status as an A-list blockbuster star has faced numerous challenges in recent years, as a result of his alleged abuse of ex-wife Amber Heard. Ultimately Depp disappeared from the project, and not much has been heard about it or any other Dark Universe titles other than Blumhouse potentially utilizing the scripts.
In the grand scheme of things, two years isn’t an extravagant amount of time to wait for something that had such grand intentions. However, if Universal wants to recreate the scares and all around entertainment value of its classic horror titles, it’s clear that The Dark Universe will require a much clearer path to production. Hollywood has proven time and time again that nothing is ever really dead, and if Universal’s original vision for The Dark Universe isn’t quite working as they’d anticipated, it could simply be a matter of correcting the faults that The Mummy exposed and moving forward in time.