Well, it's official, Universal's Dark Universe is officially dead, as the studio won't continue building the interconnected monster franchise going forward. That shouldn't come as much of a surprise, considering the performance of The Mummy and the shelved projects that followed. However, where there is death there is also life, and Universal has no plans to let these beloved characters sit still for very long. There's a new dawn and a new direction for this franchise, and it looks to be beginning with The Invisible Man.
On Monday morning, Variety revealed that Universal had hired Leigh Whannell, co-creator of the Saw franchise and director of the critically adored Upgrade, to helm a new Invisible Man movie. Whannell will reteam with producer Jason Blum, and the film will be made under his Blumhouse productions banner.
Johnny Depp was previously announced as the star of Invisible Man, when the Dark Universe was first announced. However, he is not expected to appear in Whannell's movie, though he could pop up in another monster movie project in development.
Invisible Man is the first step toward bringing the Universal Monsters back to the big screen for a new generation. Rather than creating an interconnected universe, the studio is focused on bringing on directors with unique visions to offer fresh takes on the classic characters.
These new films will all be rooted in horror, but that's about the only thing they need to have in common. The studio is listening to pitches for these characters, and sources suggest there will be no restrictions on budget, tone, or rating. This will allow every character to be given its own unique vision based on the directors at the helm.
Despite the fact that Invisible Man is the first to have a filmmaker on board, it may not be the next movie to go into production. As the other pitches are coming together, it will all come down to the scheduling of the studio and the filmmakers.
“Throughout cinematic history, Universal’s classic monsters have been reinvented through the prism of each new filmmaker who brought these characters to life,” said Peter Cramer, Universal’s president of production. “We are excited to take a more individualized approach for their return to screen, shepherded by creators who have stories they are passionate to tell with them.”
As for all of the actors who had already signed on for the Dark Universe, they will have the option to appear in these movies. Depp, Javier Bardem, Tom Cruise, and Russell Crowe all have the ability to choose to join a film once a new filmmaker is signed on.
What do you think of Universal's new direction for its monster franchises? Let us know in the comments below!