Dark Universe: Van Helsing Reboot Writer Recalls Working on Failed Cinematic Universe

Following the disappointing reaction to 2017's The Mummy, which largely resulted in Universal Pictures' "Dark Universe" of monster movies reboots being scrapped entirely, writer Eric Heisserer recently detailed how he was getting a sense that the project was doomed for disaster, which resulted in him selecting a new take on monster hunter Van Helsing as a way into the series. Not only did this mean that he felt less pressure from not having to adapt an iconic creature, it also meant his movie got to be the one that saw potentially disappointing incarnations of the beasts getting killed.

“It was a very strange experience,” Heisserer recalled to The Playlist. “There was certainly a big brain trust of writers around the table. You had a lot of voices and none of them could agree on much. Much like when I’d visit my relatives for Thanksgiving and everyone’s arguing with each other … You had some people saying, ‘Should our monsters all be villains in these movies or can they all be heroes?’ And someone else would say, ‘We can build the plane when we fly it.’ And it’s me and Jon Spaihts at the table going, ‘That’s a terrible analogy. We don’t want to be on that plane. What are we doing here?’”

The studio's first attempt to revive its iconic monsters came in 2014's Dracula Untold, but when that film came and went without much fanfare, they took a bigger swing, enlisting Tom Cruise for The Mummy (while Sofia Boutella played the titular beast), Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, Javier Bardem as Frankenstein's Monster, and Johnny Depp as the Invisible Man.

While a new take on Bride of Frankenstein was being developed in the wake of the launch of the Dark Universe, that film was quietly delayed and seemingly shelved indefinitely.

“This is sort of a terrible motivation, but we were also like, ‘You know? I don’t think some of these movies are going to work at all. So what if we create the character that kills the monsters in the movies that don’t work?’" Heisserer confessed.

In 2020, filmmaker Leigh Whannell would go on to deliver a reimagining of The Invisible Man, which became one of the year's most acclaimed horror movies. This resulted in the announcement of a number of new Universal Monsters reboots, which included the reveal that Overlord director Julius Avery was developing a new take on Van Helsing.

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Stay tuned for details on the future of these Universal Monsters reboots.

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