Years ago, Universal Pictures looked at the emerging movie series franchises being built up by other studios, and thought they could do the same. The subject of their own franchise would be the rebooting of their many classic monster films made from the 1930s to 50s. Unfortunately the debut movie of their “Dark Universe” shared timeline franchise, 2017’s “The Mummy” starring Tom Cruise, was a big bust. As a result, the next film, “The Invisible Man” which premiered late last month, did away with the planned shared universe convention. Following its modest success, Universal is moving on to “Dracula” next.
The Hollywood Reporter tells us that Universal Pictures has been inspired by the $98.3 million to push forward with more entries in its Dark Universe of movie monsters. This time however they will be standalone stories rather than the abortive shared universe that would have begun with “The Mummy” nearly three years ago. One of their ideas under development is another film treatment on fiction’s most famous vampire, “Dracula” (1931 original starring Bela Lugosi), for which Universal has tapped Karyn Kusama (“Destroyer”) as director. In addition, the production team for “Invisible Man,” Blumhouse Productions under Jason Blum, will return to produce this new monster movie.
Such a move is supreme shrewdness on the part of Universal, which is still reeling from the losses of “The Mummy” with Tom Cruise, which made only $409 million from a $125 million budget. Blumhouse on the other hand, finished “The Invisible Man,” starring Elisabeth Moss and Oliver Jackson-Cohen, for just $7 million, which the box office returns already made back. The scrapping of the shared universe concept similar to Marvel Studios’ MCU also allows, according to a Universal producer, for a “best idea wins” approach in the submission of stories for production into film.
Interestingly, Universal did make a “Dracula” movie as recently as 2014. “Dracula Untold” starring Luke Evans was a “prequel” that plays on the idea that the (fictional) vampire count originally written by Bram Stoker originated from the historical Wallachia-Transylvanian noble Vlad Dracula, and thus posits how the historical figure was supposed to have become a real monster. For this new take on the character, Universal has tapped Karyn Kusama’s “Destroyer” (2018) collaborators Matt Manfredi and Phil Hay to write the script. Kusama herself is proven in the horror genre after directing 2009 black comedy “Jennifer’s Body” which starred Megan Fox. No further details on Universal’s Dark Universe “Dracula” are known.
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