It is safe to say that shared, expanded universes have never been more popular in mainstream media. The MCU continues to dominate the box office, Star Wars is now releasing one Star Wars Universe movie each year, and DC Entertainment is actively building out the DCEU. While not all shared cinematic universes are created equal, they are all prominent in the entertainment news headlines and show no sign of losing steam.
Universal is now joining them, developing their own shared cinematic universe filled with classic horror genre creatures. So far, the brain trust of filmmakers culled by the studio to map out the structure of this universe consists of some impressive talent, including Aaron Guzikowski (Prisoners), Jay Basu (Monsters: Dark Continent), and Noah Hawley (Fargo). And now, more names have been added to the growing list of collaborators.
It has just been announced that scribes Jon Spaihts (Prometheus, Doctor Strange) and Eric Heisserer (The Thing) are on board to pen the upcoming Van Helsing re-reboot. Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan, the Universal executives overseeing this new universe will serve as the film's producers. Spaihts was already heavily involved in this universe, having already signed on to write The Mummy.
Van Helsing has been in development for some time now, with Tom Cruise attached to star at one point, with director Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman) engaged in “relatively casual” conversation to direct. Van Helsing is a logical choice to follow The Mummy and fill the as-yet unnamed monster franchise film slated for 2017. Of course, just because it has been in progress the longest doesn't mean it won't be sidelined for another project, with development already underway for numerous Universal properties including: The Wolfman, Frankenstein’s monster, Bride of Frankenstein, and The Invisible Man.
It's encouraging to see the level of thought that is going into creating this universe since -- unlike properties based off comics -- there is far less source material to base such connections off of. For such an ambitious project, this is a smart choice for writers. Spaihts has written a range of films, and with Prometheus proven his ability to write a standalone film that fits into a larger universe. And now, his experience with Doctor Strange gives him unique insight into the inner-workings of the MCU. Having him work on both this and The Mummy will hopefully only enhance the connectivity of it all.
It's too early in the process to draw any real conclusions about whether or not either reboots will be more successful than Stephen Sommers' various attempts, but the talent Universal has brought on board is very promising.
The Mummy opens in U.S. theaters on June 24th, 2016, followed by an Untitled Universal Monster Franchise Film on April 21st, 2017.