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Dark Universe in jeopardy as top producers leave the franchise

The poor performance from this summer’s THE MUMMY was bad enough to put the hopes and dreams for Universal’s Dark Universe in a tomb of its own, as box office receipts and reviews were worse than anyone fathomed. Though it seemed to be a hiccup as Universal recouped, some news has come to light that hints the Dark Universe could be getting a stake in the heart.

According to a report from THR, producers and DU architects Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan (who directed and wrote MUMMY, respectively) have left the franchise to focus on other projects, leaving the DU ship with no captains. Kurtzman will continue to work on TV projects (STAR TREK DISCOVERY) while Morgan focuses on the next FAST AND FURIOUS movies.

Word is even the office building recently remodeled for the DU team is also virtually empty now, which comes on the heels of Universal halting the production of Bill Condon’s BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN amid reports his script was not quite ready. As well, it’s February 2019 release date has been shelved, and whispers that Angelina Jolie would play the lead have all but silenced.

Reviews for the MUMMY were abysmal (standing at a 16 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), but the financial total is where the movie suffered the biggest blow. With a $125 million budget and a possible $100 million promotion, the movie only made $409 million globally ($80 million domestic), making the movie a big-budget bomb for the studio.

However, not all is lost. Much like Warner Bros., which is looking to shift the goal of their DCEU movies to focus more on the visions of individual filmmakers rather than just on a series of interconnecting films, Universal is exploring the option of doing the same for their monster movies. Producers (one name in the mix being Jason Blum) would use the IP to make one-off monster flicks with no intent to connect to another standalone movie.

From the sounds of it, Universal isn’t completely stopping their Dark Universe plans, but rather are looking to re-evaluate the strategy before jumping into more movies. THE MUMMY proved the foundations were not as solid as Universal hoped, and that putting a huge star in a movie does not make a guaranteed success. A bunch of inter-connected monster movies sounds silly, but a bunch of one-off movies under one banner? That sounds much more plausible and allows filmmakers to make the best movie without worrying about future films. I mean, what was the end goal? Having the Wolfman, the Mummy and Frankenstein coming together to fight Parademons? 

Source: THR

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