Hollywood loves its franchise from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to Worlds of DC, John Wick, Transformers, and beyond. At one point, Univeral was hoping to launch the Dark Universe — a shared cinematic world featuring contemporary takes on the classic Universal Monsters mythos. That seemingly included The Invisible Man starring Johnny Depp. One thing led to another and Depp parted from the film; director Leigh Whannell soon took over and according to the filmmaker, The Invisible Man was only ever developed as a standalone property rather than something that could potentially cross over with the likes of The Mummy or The Bride of Frankenstein.
According to reporting via CinemaBlend, the director has said the upcoming horror flick was "only ever treated at a standalone film."
"The thing is, in the movie business there's what's being said and there's what's really going on," Whannell says. "Now with hindsight, I realize of course this was a big meeting that was had before I was ever in the room between Jason Blum and Universal where they said 'How about Leigh Whannell for one of these characters? He'd be great for The Invisible Man.' And so, it was an ambush you walk into."
He adds, "I'm such a doe-eyed fawn in the crosshairs of a rifle that I just sit there and fall right into their trap. They Jedi mind-tricked me into thinking that it was my idea. It was literally like Obi-Wan waving his head and saying 'this is the movie you want to make.' I walked out of there like – damn right I want to make that film but I loved the experience so I'm glad they tricked me into making it because I had a really rewarding film experience."
Whannell directs The Handmaid's Tale star Elisabeth Moss and Oliver Jackson-Cohen in the micro-budget thriller from Blumhouse and Universal. Whannell get his started in Hollywood writing the first three Saw movies before working with James Wan on the Insidious franchise.
Universal chairwoman Donna Langley recently participated in a THR roundtable, where conceded the Dark Universe was a bust. "We had an attempt at interlocking our monsters and it was a failed attempt," she explained. "What we realized is that these characters are indelible for a reason, but there's no urgency behind them and certainly the world was not asking for a shared universe of classic monsters. But we have gone back and created an approach that's filmmaker-first, any budget range."
The Invisible Man enters theaters next Friday.
What other Universal Monsters remakes do you hope to see next?