Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan depart Universal Pictures’ Dark Universe
Splashinians, am I the only person who liked The Mummy? What did people expect? It was a monster movie with a mummy as the lead monster. Not to say mummies are lame, but they’re not vampire or werewolf. And, it was better than those Brendan Fraiser vehicles that were just ghastly. Yes, even the first one. Well, apparently it’s that time where people know the ship is sinking and are getting the arm floaties on. All because The Mummy grossed $409 million worldwide on a budget of $125 million-plus (some insiders place it considerably higher). That doesn’t include marketing costs of at least $100 million. Still looking profitable, though not the smash everyone might’ve wanted for the first of the Dark Universe franchise.
Sources told The Hollywood Reporter that writer-producers Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan, who were hired as the monster universe architects, have departed the franchise. Kurtzman, whose deal with Universal lapsed in September, is focusing on television (he’s an executive producer on CBS All Access’ Star Trek: Discovery, and his overall deal with CBS involves more than a half-dozen shows), while Morgan has returned to the Fast and Furious franchise and is writing a spinoff for Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. While I won’t watch Star Trek: Discovery, I’ve heard good things. And, I have to admit, I’m pretty excited for the Fast and Furious spinoff.
In early October, Universal pulled the plug on pre-production that had started in London for Bride of Frankenstein — which was to have followed The Mummy as the second entry in the series — partly because execs felt the script by writer-director Bill Condon wasn’t ready. Angelina Jolie had been courted for the lead but is now not attached. Insiders insist Condon (Beauty and the Beast) remains attached, but no date has been set to resume work, and a Feb. 14, 2019, release has been shelved.
Don’t count Universal out yet though. Remember, these monsters have been their property for a long time. They’ve had films before, and likely will again.
“We’ve learned many lessons throughout the creative process on Dark Universe so far, and we are viewing these titles as filmmaker-driven vehicles, each with their own distinct vision,” says Universal president of production Peter Cramer. “We are not rushing to meet a release date and will move forward with these films when we feel they are the best versions of themselves.”