Shared universes are all the rage in Hollywood these days, and every studio is looking for ways to bring their various cinematic properties under the same umbrella. This practice is not exclusive to comic book films; Universal is attempting to launch a new franchise with their famous movie monsters. It remains to be seen if Dracula Untold will be included in the rebooted monster film universe, but for certain the Alex Kurtzman directed reboot of The Mummy (due out in 2017) will be.
Universal had pegged another monster film to be released on March 30, 2018. However, Steven Spielberg's adaptation of the popular novel Ready Player One recently moved to that date to avoid competition with Star Wars: Episode VIII (which claimed Ready Player One's original December 2017 premiere). It shouldn't come as any surprise then, that Universal has now shifted their 2018 project away from Spielberg's film.
The studio (hat tip Coming Soon) has moved their mystery film to April 13, 2018, where it currently has no competition. This is a smart business strategy, since Universal wants to put their movie in the best position to succeed. As is the case with several movie franchises, they have a full slate of various monster films planned (but not all officially dated yet). Even though the studio has no shortage of tentpoles (as their 2015 box office haul would indicate), there's still a decent amount riding on the success of these monster reboots. Going head-to-head with a Steven Spielberg blockbuster would have been an unwise decision.
Right now, Universal is not saying which film from their lineup will snag the April 2018 date. Initially, it seemed as if the new take on The Wolfman would bow that year, but the casting of Johnny Depp as the Invisible Man suggests otherwise. That development indicates that the Invisible Man reboot is further along in development when compared to the other projects, meaning it could be ready to enter production sooner. Until Universal confirms a release schedule, the safe money is on Invisible Man coming first.
The shared monster movie universe did not get off to a great start when Dracula Untold became a bust critically and was only a lukewarm commercial success, but Universal has gathered some intriguing pieces in the years since. None other than Tom Cruise is headlining the Mummy reboot, and with Depp on board for Invisible Man, the studio has two recognizable names to bank on. If nothing else, their involvement could pique the interest of casual moviegoers and give the franchise some buzz as it moves forward. There are plenty of options out there for audiences these days; Universal has to do something to make their monster films stand out.
Time will tell just how fruitful the studio's plan will be, especially with Marvel, Star Wars, and DC poised to dominate the multiplex for the next handful of years. On the outset, there doesn't seem to be room for another massive shared universe, but if handled properly, Universal could do something worthwhile with the brand. And should their efforts fail, they'll have to make do with Fast & Furious and Jurassic World sequels - which is hardly a bad proposition.
The Mummy will hit theaters June 9, 2017, followed by an untitled Universal monster movie (The Invisible Man?) on April 13, 2018.
Source: Universal [via Coming Soon]
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