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Thread: Universal's Cinematic Monster Universe

  1. #26
    Senior Member Gabriel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Universal's Cinematic Monster Universe

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  2. #27
    Senior Member Gabriel's Avatar
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    Collider August 2, 2017:
    Akiva Goldsman Done with ‘Transformers’; Alex Kurtzman May Exit ‘Dark Universe’ Franchise
    Quote Originally Posted by DAVE TRUMBORE
    Cinematic universe writers rooms were supposed to be the answer to crafting reimagined mythologies for massive, unwieldy properties like Transformers and Universal’s monster movie-verse, “Dark Universe.” The idea was to bring together talented, creative, and experienced screenwriters in order to hash out a framework for years upon years of major feature films, all connected through a central brand, theme, or intellectual property; this would also allow for diverse points of view and styles for the final films themselves since they weren’t beholden to one singular creative vision. While that may work in some instances (the early days of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, for example), it’s clearly not a cure-all. Relatively poor box office and critical performances for both Transformers: The Last Knight and The Mummy may have the studios rethinking their writers room experiment.


    Transformers was humming along just fine as a multibillion-dollar franchise until Paramount Pictures decided to take a page from the Golden Age of Television and put together a writers room to expand the brand’s mythology, one that was headed by Oscar-winning writer, Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind). But with Transformers: The Last Knight currently occupying the worst opening weekend, the worst domestic tally, and the worst international total by far among other Transformers films, it’s little surprise that Goldsman appears to be done with the franchise.


    /Film had a very brief chance to chat with Goldsman during the ongoing TCA 2017 event and ask him if he was still involved with Transformers. His simple answer? “No.” While Transformers: The Last Knight was the first product of Paramount’s writers room, the next project is the standalone Autobot film Bumblebee, directed by Travis Knight of LAIKA fame and opening opposite Warner Bros.’ Aquaman (for the moment) on December 21, 2018. Christina Hodson (Shut In, Unforgettable) holds the sole screenwriting credit for that film, and we’re hoping something more focused than Transformers: The Kitchen Sink arrives for that telling, one that should be a slam dunk.


    Universal Pictures is struggling with their own writers room, one that was supposed to kick off in spectacular fashion with Alex Kurtzman‘s The Mummy, anchored by Tom Cruise and bolstered by Russell Crowe, Annabelle Wallis, and Sofia Boutella. (Fun fact: I’m one of the very few people in the world who actually enjoyed The Mummy and the direction they looked like they were taking Dark Universe. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ ) IGN caught up with Kurtzman, also a former Transformers writer, to ask about his future with Dark Universe:
    “You know the truth is, I don’t know. I really don’t know. I haven’t really decided. Is the honest answer. I have to stay interested in it. I have to feel like my passion is there for it. I think … if your passion isn’t there you shouldn’t be doing it.”
    Perhaps the withering critical reception has taken some wind out of Kurtzman’s sails. After taking in a disappointing $79.7 million at home for a respectable, but by no means preferred, total of almost $400 million, The Mummy is not the Dark Universe start that Universal was looking for. That’s a problem. This isn’t just one film’s critical and financial failure, but the unsteady foundation of what’s intended to be an entire cinematic universe. Universal’s been down this road before with films like 2004’s Van Helsing and 2014’s Dracula Untold, both of which failed to ignite a franchise. Are audiences just tired of classic monster movies, or is it just that these attempts have been a mess?


    I think it’s the latter, but that might not change anytime soon. Since China accounted for nearly 25% of the total box office, there’s the potential for future Dark Universe films to be tailored to their market. Kurtzman dodged a question along those terms:
    “It’s hard for me to know, is the truth. I think every movie will be different. I certainly know that the legacy of the monsters have endured across the world throughout the years. Almost a century. So I have to believe American audiences will find it too with the right ingredients.”

    Call me crazy, but perhaps a cinematic universe based on classic monsters and steeped in horror history should, I dunno, return to horror roots. I enjoyed The Mummy as a nonsensical action-adventure spectacular, but the parts where it blazed ever so briefly were the moments of horror: When Ahmanet is attempting to recoup her strength, she and her newly resurrected followers have a delightfully gruesome appearance, design, and way of moving. It was but a glimmer of past horror films, but it’s something the Dark Universe could build around if they choose to do so. Whether or not they’ll do it with Kurtzman on board remains to be seen.

  3. #28
    Senior Member Gabriel's Avatar
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    THR NOVEMBER 08, 2017:
    Universal's "Monsterverse" in Peril as Top Producers Exit (Exclusive)
    Quote Originally Posted by Borys Kit & Aaron Couch
    Universal's cinematic Dark Universe is in danger of being mummified.


    Just five months after Universal released a much-discussed cast photo promising a slew of movies starring the likes of Johnny Depp, Russell Crowe and Javier Bardem — all drawn on characters like the Invisible Man, Wolf Man and Frankenstein in its stable of classic horror films — none of the projects appears to have a pulse.


    Writer-producers Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan, who were hired as the monster universe architects, have departed the franchise, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter. 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.


    In early October, Universal pulled the plug on preproduction 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 David Koepp and overseen by 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.


    All this comes in the wake of Mummy's poor performance. Released in June, the Tom Cruise picture grossed a relatively paltry $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.


    Emblematic of Dark Universe's problems is the tony office building on the Universal lot that was revamped at considerable expense for the new venture. After being decked out in monster regalia, it now sits mostly empty.


    Universal is exploring its options. One road involves offering the IP to high-profile filmmakers or producers (Jason Blum has been mentioned) with ideas for one-off movies not connected to a larger universe. And the studio could find a new architect who could overhaul the concept.


    "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."


    The Mummy aside, the studio has had big wins in 2017. It boasts two $1 billion grossers (April's Fate of the Furious and July's Despicable Me 3), while sleeper hits like M. Night Shyamalan's Split ($278 million on a $9 million budget) and Jordan Peele's Get Out ($253 million on a $4.5 million budget) earned critical and commercial praise.


    For Morgan and Kurtzman, it makes sense to move away from Dark Universe and back to Fast and Star Trek, note observers.


    "This affords Alex Kurtzman more time for a project that is really working well: Star Trek Discovery," says New York-based freelance critic Jordan Hoffman, host of the official Star Trek podcast, who was in attendance of a Mummy screening that elicited unintended laughter from the crowd.


    Is there hope for the Dark Universe? Yes, says comScore box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian, pointing to Marvel and Sony's Spider-Man: Homecoming success after the franchise had lost its footing with 2014's Amazing Spider-Man 2 or Marvel's Thor: Ragnarok, which had an opening weekend that outperformed the two previous Chris Hemsworth-led solo outings. "It's never too late to course-correct," he says, "because with each movie, you get another shot."


    "There's no way to give up on this. This is Universal's legacy," he adds.

  4. #29
    Senior Member Gabriel's Avatar
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    Screen Rant 01/23/2018:
    Invisible Man Reboot Loses Writer As Dark Universe is Reconfigured
    Quote Originally Posted by David Stephens
    Universal Pictures’ Dark Universe franchise has taken yet another serious step backwards, as screenwriter Ed Solomon confirms that he is no longer working on The Invisible Man movie reboot. The film was tentatively slated to arrive in 2020 and star Johnny Depp, but comments from Solomon suggest that the whole concept is being radically rethought.


    Genre fans were suitably excited when Universal announced the concept of the monster-sharing Dark Universe, which would introduce reboots of its stable of creatures and characters. This was to have been kick-started by Tom Cruise’s The Mummy, and lead into updated versions of Bride of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, and The Wolf Man. However, the critical panning of The Mummy and underwhelming box-office led the studio to put a brake on its planned schedule. The problems were further compounded by the departure of the Dark Universe ‘showrunners’ Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan, who moved on to other projects. Although no official announcement has been made by Universal and the Dark Universe still exists in concept, most of the film community have already presumed that the franchise is dead.


    Johnny Depp was first announced as the lead for the planned reboot of The Invisible Man in 2016. Prolific screenwriter Solomon, who also scribed the screenplays for the Now You See Me and Bill & Ted films, had been attempting to write a update of the story that was faithful to the spirit of H.G. Wells novel. However while speaking to Digital Spy, the writer revealed that he has left the project, saying:
    “At the end of the day, I think Universal and I had a different idea of what the movie was gonna be. We began thinking that our notions would meld, and I should’ve listened more closely to what they really were wanting…I think Universal has had to come to a kind of reckoning of, ‘What are we doing with the Dark Universe?’ and, ‘What is our real intention with it?’, and I think they’re reconfiguring it now, which I think is probably good…So I’m not working on it.”

    With the reception given to The Mummy and the other recent departures, Solomon’s comments are no great surprise. It does leave a massive question mark still hanging over the Dark Universe though, and where it goes from here. It sounds like Universal may still be trying to get to get the franchise off the ground. Interesting, recent rumors suggest that Brian Condon’s version of Bride of Frankenstein may still be alive, with Javier Bardem attached to play Frankenstein’s monster. However, even if the film does happen, it is rumored to be distancing itself from the Dark Universe logo.


    As far as the rest of the planned reboots go, it looks like The Invisible Man certainly has been at least delayed for the moment. Further information for other projects like The Wolf Man and The Creature from the Black Lagoon is also conspicuous in its absence. But if Universal are actively ‘reconfiguring‘ the planned franchise, we can probably expect some kind of update in the coming months.

  5. #30
    Senior Member Razor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Universal's Cinematic Monster Universe

    Only the Underworld franchise (it in itself already a shared universe where Vampires and Werewolves exist together) could kick start a successful 'dark' shared cinematic universe, because it's already well established.

    And they've ran out of ideas pitting Vampires against Werewolves, so their writers could introduce maybe a third monster race in the next sequel (if there is). Only that can do it. Only that.

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