The "Dark Universe" based around the classic Universal Monsters has just taken another hit.
Following the underwhelming box-office and disastrous critical reception for last summer's The Mummy, which was meant to introduce a shared universe starring Universal's gallery of archetypal horror icons, the studio has now halted preproduction on the next film in the sequence, Bride of Frankenstein, and pulled it from the release schedule, Deadline reports.
The picture, which was supposed to start shooting on Feb. 1, 2018, will be replaced on its original Feb. 14, 2019, arrival date by an untitled entry from Blumhouse Films. A statement issued by the studio gave this rationale for hitting the brakes:
“After thoughtful consideration, Universal Pictures and director Bill Condon have decided to postpone Bride of Frankenstein. None of us want to move too quickly to meet a release date when we know this special movie needs more time to come together. Bill is a director whose enormous talent has been proven time and again, and we all look forward to continuing to work on this film together.”
Condon's remake of the classic 1935 film had already signed Javier Bardem to play Frankenstein’s monster, with Angelina Jolie reportedly being courted heavily to play the title character. According to Deadline, neither Bardem nor Jolie is walking away completely from the project, although they're no longer committing to it either, depending on how things go from here.
The crew working on the production in London has reportedly been sent home, and the first order of business now is for more work to be done on the script.
This is not the best news for the would-be "Dark Universe" franchise, which is also supposed to launch new films based around Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Invisible Man, the Creature From the Black Lagoon, the Wolf Man, and others. The Mummy was supposed to set up the universe, but critical reception was less that stellar, with many saying the movie seemed unable to focus on whether it was a horror thriller or an action-adventure ride.
While The Mummy did gross $407 million worldwide, it underperformed in the U.S. and did not fare well with many moviegoers. With Bride of Frankenstein on hold, perhaps the studio and filmmakers can figure out exactly the right approach this time. Do you think this is a smart move, or is the whole "Dark Universe" idea in trouble?
(Full disclosure: SYFY WIRE and Universal Studios are both owned and operated by NBCUniversal)