News: Universal building a Monster Universe

These days it is not enough to produce a couple of blockbusters per year for studios to stay in business, thanks to the success of Marvel Studios everyone feels the pressure to come up with their own shared universe. Going with what they used to do best back in the olden days, Universal plans on stitching The Mummy, Dracula, Frankenstein and co. together into one Monster Universe!

Of course Universal has a big legacy when it comes to Monsters.  Back in the 1930s Universal reluctantly put a Dracula movie in development but when it turned out to be a box office sensation they rushed out a slew of (now legendary) monster movies: Frankenstein, The Mummy, Invisible Man, The Wolf Man, the lost goes on. And in doing so they introduced these creatures to a broad audience, firmly securing their monstrous place in pop culture history.

So it should come as no surprise that Universal plans on revisiting that well, undoubtedly hoping to recapture some of the golden age magic.  This time it is up to the Mummy to kick things off though. Set to be released in 2017, The Mummy will mark the beginning of what is going to be the Monster Universe with a new installment following each year. Last we heard Alex Kurtzman was set as the director for The Mummy working off a script by Jon Spaiths.

The Monster Universe will be overseen by Alex Kurtzman (Transformers) and Chris Morgan (Fast & Furious). They will oversee a writers room of 10 with each writer working on their character. It is still unclear which other characters will get their movies and in what order they will appear but eventually Universal plans to unite them on the big screen in one collective outing (think Marvel’s Avengers). I assume Dracula (there have been mumblings of a new Van Helsing movie lately) and Frankenstein/Bride of Frankenstein will be the other cornerstones of this franchise.

As to the tone of these movies Kurtzman noted: “I promise you there will be horror in these movies…The tricky part is actually how you combine horror with either adventure or suspense or action and be true to all the genres together.” Sounds like they are aware they are walking a tight rope here: nailing the tone for one of these movies is hard enough but trying to make these outings feel like parts of a larger universe further complicates matters. In any case Kurtzman has been watching the classic Univeral Monster movies obsessively for inspiration. It is also worth noting that Universal pushed back The Mummy by nine months in order to give the writers more time to get things right. Sounds like Universal is going about this in a smart way so I hope it pays off!

However much time has passed since the 1930s and 1940s audiences have seen numerous takes on these characters by now, both on the big and small screen. Add to that that recent movies like I, Frankenstein (2014) and Dracula Untold (2014) that didn’t exactly set the world on fire. Still the Monsters have a timeless quality to them so there are intriguing stories left to tell with them! Whatever they’re planning, Universal has got to set the bar high on this project or it might be doomed to an early grave!

Be sure to share your monstrous thoughts in the comments below!

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