Dark Universe, A Shared Universe For Universal Monsters, Dies at 1
Terrible, tragic news for movie fans today, as Variety reports that the Dark Universe, Universal Pictures’ attempt to turn their classic monster movies into a shared cinematic universe, is dead. The listed cause of death is the studio “taking a new look at the strategy for [its] remaining monster characters.” The Dark Universe was less than two years old.
It began with the movie The Mummy starring Tom Cruise as a mummy, Sofia Boutella as an additional mummy, Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Jake Johnson as, like, also a mummy who said the famous (apparently unscripted) line “Thanks for bringing me back from the dead, dude.” Things were off to an incredible start; arguably the greatest start to a franchise in the history of art.
The Mummy opened in theaters on June 9, 2017. A few weeks prior, on May 22, 2017, the Dark Universe (known to true fans as the “#DarkUniverse”), tweeted this picture, which revealed the full cast of the Dark Universe — including Javier Bardem and Johnny Depp – and that Russell Crowe and Tom Cruise were somehow the exact same height:
Sadly, this tweet was whatever the opposite of prophetic is. The next Dark Universe movie after The Mummy was supposed to be Bill Condon’s Bride of Frankenstein, with Bardem as a next-gen, grim and gritty Frankenstein’s Monster. The announced release date was February 14, 2019. After that, Depp was to star in a reboot of the Invisible Man.
As you are no doubt aware, none of these things came to pass. Cruise’s Mummy tanked, grossing just $80 million in the United States and scoring pitifully with critics and audiences. Condon’s Bride of Frankenstein never got off the ground. And while you can never be certain with the Invisible Man because he’s so hard to see, I’m reasonably certain that film hasn’t been made either. The tweet above announcing the start of the #DarkUniverse was the last tweet ever sent from the @darkuniverse account.
Now Variety says Universal has decided to go in a new direction with the Invisible Man, hiring writer/director Leigh Whannell and producer Jason Blum, to helm a new version. As part of the movie, Variety says, Universal “tabled the idea of an interconnected universe and is reassessing how to keep the enduring characters relevant for a new generation.”
Whannell and Blum are both gifted horror specialists. No doubt they will create a compelling Invisible Man. But the death of the Dark Universe at such a young age is just another sign of the sad state of our world. We’re supposed to just go on with our lives never knowing what happens to Tom Cruise’s Mummy guy? This is a nightmare. Turns out we were the ones in the Dark Universe all along. Rest in peace, Dark Universe. May flights of mummies sing thee to thy rest.
Gallery — Great Movies That Became Awful Franchises: