A few years ago, Universal Pictures announced that it was going to revive its library of classic monsters — Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Bride of Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, the Invisible Man and others — in a brand new, modernized shared movie franchise that would be known as the Dark Universe.
With Tom Cruise signed to star in The Mummy, Russell Crowe on board as Dr. Henry Jekyll, Javier Bardem attached to play Frankenstein’s monster, Johnny Depp in the mix as the Invisible Man and Angelina Jolie rumored to don the Bride’s wedding shroud, the Dark Universe seemed poised to make a big splash with audiences.
And then The Mummy came out in summer 2017 and proved an utter catastrophe both with audiences and critics. A misguided attempt to reboot one of the eeriest and most atmospheric of the Universal classics as a CG-polluted action thriller, The Mummy was the supermassive black hole that caused the Dark Universe to collapse in on itself.
Skip ahead to last month and some news comes along that should warm the hearts of Universal classic monster fans everywhere: Blumhouse, the production company that specializes in quality horror films and franchises like Halloween, Insidious, The Purge, Happy Death Day, and others, has been tasked by Universal with developing a new version of The Invisible Man — a fresh start without the involvement of Depp or the lingering sour taste of the Dark Universe.
When we recently asked Blumhouse president Jason Blum if this is the beginning of Blumhouse reviving the entire Universal line of monsters, he was adamant that it wasn’t — at least not yet: “No. The only one we’re currently doing is Invisible Man, and we should have a movie very soon. Hopefully by the end of the year, then we’ll go from there. We’re doing one at a time.”
Asked if he was committing to a new version of Frankenstein, Dracula or any of the others, Blum reiterated, “No, not right now.”
Of course, if The Invisible Man does prove to be a success, we’re fairly certain that more of the classic monsters will be on the way in new movies as well. That library of characters is too good to leave moldering in a crypt, but the challenge is finding a way to stay true to the original intent while updating the stories for today’s audiences. We’ll know if Blumhouse is on the right track when it unwraps The Invisible Man later this year.
Stay tuned for our full interview with Jason Blum about the new Blumhouse film, Happy Death Day 2U, later this week.
Don Kaye is a Los Angeles-based entertainment journalist and associate editor of Den of Geek. Other current and past outlets include Syfy, United Stations Radio Networks, Fandango, MSN, RollingStone.com and many more. Read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @donkaye