Renfield Director Says Movie Probably Won't Start Another Dark Universe

Tom Cruise's The Mummy was set to kick off a new shared universe from Universal, featuring modern-day takes of the studio's most iconic characters. At one point, the franchise was full of Hollywood A-listers including Cruise, Russell Crowe (Dr. Jekyll), Sofia Boutella (The Mummy), Johnny Depp, and Javier Bardem, who were set to play the Invisible Man and Frankenstein's Monster, respectively. After Leigh Whannell's Invisible Man reboot ended up as critical and commercial success at the height of the pandemic, Universal opted to shelve the franchise in favor of standalone horror films.

Because of that, it's probably safe to say Universal's upcoming Renfield—a modern-day telling of Dracula—won't be the film to try getting the Dark Universe back on its feet. That much is certain, according to Renfield helmer Chris McKay.

"We haven't had any conversations about it," McKay said in a chat with SFX Magazine. "From the studio's perspective, this is a one-off thing. I figure they don't look at this as some kind of franchise-starter. The thing for me, personally, is I loved the relationship between Renfield and Dracula. I loved the relationship between Renfield and Rebecca. I love the idea that if Dracula is out there, are there other monsters out there, in a world where Renfield is now empowered to fight off people's monsters?"

He added, "That's not necessarily where the movie goes," he adds. "I see more stories in Renfield and his relationship with Rebecca, Dracula and possibly other monsters out there."

What other movies were going to be in the Dark Universe?

On top of The Mummy, Frankenstein, and The Invisible Man, the franchise was going to feature other films like the Bride of Frankenstein, Van Helsing, and The Phantom of the Opera. When we spoke with David Koepp last year, the writer behind The Mummy and Bride, he said the movies aren't necessarily dead just quite yet.

"It's definitely standalone. Universal famously tried this idea of great big connected horror movies in a thing, and it didn't work, and it didn't work really spectacularly," Koepp shared with ComicBook.com. "And I was impressed that they stood back and said, 'Hang on, let's give this a year or two and really think about it, and come at these in a singular way, and see what filmmakers ... let's listen to filmmakers with distinctive points of view.' And I think the first one that really broke through is [producer] Jason's [Blum] Invisible Man, which was made as a really well-thought, and well-conceived idea that existed completely on its own. And it was made for a reasonable amount of money, which actually gives you more creative freedom, rather than less. And I think that kind of showed the way that they can go with some of their things."

Renfield lands in theaters on April 14th.

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