February 13, 2020
She’s alive! Reports of the death of Universal’s ambitious Dark Universe appear to have been greatly exaggerated
Can Angelina Jolie breathe life into Universals Bride of Frankenstein?
It is hard to imagine a more ignominious start to a film franchise than the one suffered by Universal’s Dark Universe with its appalling remake of The Mummy in 2017. A cheesy, old-fashioned star-vehicle for Tom Cruise, and featuring one of the most preposterous screen performances of recent times by Russell Crowe as Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde, Alex Kurtzman’s risible effort tried and failed to interest us in an entire Marvel-style cinematic universe of monster movies being investigated by a SHIELD-style linking organisation known as Prodigium. An expensive, clunky box-office bomb – it is reported to have lost the studio around $95m amid audience derision and critical ridicule – the film appeared to have sounded the death knell for Universal’s ambitious plans for a series of connected horror flicks.
However, in Hollywood there is always another maniacal movie executive determined to apply the jump leads to a tired old franchise, and reports of the death of the Dark Universe seem to have been greatly exaggerated. Leigh Whannell’s The Invisible Man, a reworking of the 1933 Claude Rains classic, will hit multiplexes later this month with Elisabeth Moss in a starring role. This time, instead of flashy special effects, the studio seems to have opted for the kind of low-budget, high-yielding horror that saw Whannell’s previous films, Saw and Insidious, triumph financially – it is budgeted at just $20m. Other director-led “open-source” projects, such as Elizabeth Banks’ unconnected Invisible Woman, and Dexter Fletcher’s Dracula henchman flick Renfield, are reportedly on the way.
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