Universal Pictures confirmed Monday that Johnny Depp will play The Invisible Man and Javier Bardem Frankenstein's monster in what the studio is branding its "Dark Universe". Universal essentially created the monster movie genre in the 1930s when it released such classic films as Frankenstein, Dracula and The Mummy, and creating legendary stars like Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi in the process. And while studio had great luck reviving The Mummy in the 1990s, and remade The Wolfman with Benicio Del Toro with lesser success in 2010, monster movie offerings from Universal over the years have been few and far between.
Looking to mine its classic movie monsters for a whole new generation of moviegoers on a consistent basis, Universal is kicking off what is now known as its Dark Universe series on June 9 with The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe. And while there have been reports about the likes of Depp and Bardem circling Universal monster movie projects, nothing was officially confirmed by Universal until Monday.
News of Depp and Bardem's involvement came in a photo released by Universal (see below), where the stars are pictured with Cruise, Crowe and Sofia Boutella, who plays the titular character in The Mummy. The studio also confirmed that Beauty and the Beast director Bill Condon, who has been negotiating to direct The Bride of Frankenstein, will indeed be at the helm. In a press release, Universal Chairwoman Donna Langley says:
“We take enormous pride in the creativity and passion that has inspired the reimagining of Universal’s iconic monsters and promise audiences we will expand this series strategically. The enterprise masterfully developed by Chris (Morgan) and Alex (Kurtzman) will allow each subsequent chapter the right time to find the perfect cast, filmmakers and vision to fulfill it. As we launch Dark Universe with Danny (Elfman's) provocative theme before The Mummy and collaborate with a brilliant filmmaker like Bill to weave the story of a very modern woman in a very classic tale, we feel confident we’re off to a tremendous start.”
While Universal previously said the offerings in its planned Monster Movie universe would be standalone films, the information released Monday indicates they will all be tied to Crowe's dual character Dr.Jekyll/Dr. Hyde. Also in the statement, Morgan and Kurtzman say:
“When Universal approached us with the idea of reimagining these classic characters, we recognized the responsibility of respecting their legacy while bringing them into new and modern adventures. The studio and our fellow creative collaborators have championed and challenged us as we’ve begun to spin the web of Dark Universe. It’s our hope these movies will engross longtime fans and spark the imaginations of brand-new ones.”
Set for a Feb. 14, 2019 release, The Bride of Frankenstein is the next film in Universal's Dark Universe after The Mummy. It's a unique film for Condon, who directed and wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for Gods and Monsters – a film that chronicled the life of director James Whale when he was shooting the classic. In a statement, Condon says:
“I’m very excited to bring a new Bride of Frankenstein to life on screen, particularly since James Whale’s original creation is still so potent. The Bride of Frankenstein remains the most iconic female monster in film history, and that’s a testament to Whale’s masterpiece-which endures as one of the greatest movies ever made.”
Whether this shared Universe of monster movies reaches the level of excitement generated by Marvel and DC shared universes is yet to be seen, but there's no question that for the time being, it's a dream come true for classic monster lovers. Both Depp and Bardem are excellent choices for The Invisible Man and Frankenstein, respectively, and with word coming from Universal shortly who the star of The Bride of Frankenstein will be, a lot of light is going to be shined on Universal's Dark Universe for some time to come.
Source: Universal Pictures
- The Mummy (2017) release date: Jun 09, 2017
- Bride of Frankenstein release date: Nov 19, 2018