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When writer/director Paul Feig’s Universal monsters project Dark Army was announced in September, its association with the company’s planned Dark Universe of films — presumptively kicked off by 2017’s The Mummy, and quickly rethought upon its tepid reception — was unclear.
Will it tie in with the other monsters in Universal’s extensive library? Or will it remain apart from icons like the Mummy, Dracula, Frankenstein and his Bride, and the Wolfman — or, more pressingly, writer/director Leigh Whannell’s version of the Invisible Man? A new interview from Feig doesn’t quite answer these questions, but it does shed some light on the Dark Universe’s place at the studio and what kind of film Dark Army hopes to be.
Speaking to ComingSoon, Feig not only gave an update on the film’s development, but pulled back the curtain of the company’s bigger strategy. “I finished the first draft of the script and I’m so excited about it,” the writer/director said. “I’m literally on fire about getting this movie made as soon as I can. I turned it into the Dark Universe people last week and they loved it. Now it’s going over to the heads of Universal, so we’ll see.”
The "Dark Universe people," mysterious gatekeepers of the legendary creatures, are still involved, it seems. Interesting. And the film won’t be a horror movie in the modern sense.
“Horror movies to me now represent slasher and that kind of thing, which I don’t enjoy at all,” Feig said. “I loved those old movies like Frankenstein. Bride of Frankenstein is probably one of the greatest movies of all time. I love that movie so much, and there are some things from that movie that I’m using in this new movie Dark Army. But I really want to do a James Whale-ish, modern-day version of a monster movie that is about these characters.”
In fact, some of Feig’s comments sound like the Dark Universe is heading toward The Shape of Water more than Monster Squad. “I want to bring that ookie spookie feel back to movies,” he said, “but with these monsters you root for and understand at the same time.” So while there’s still no word on an interconnected universe of creatures and critters, it certainly sounds like the Dark Universe is getting decidedly less ... well, Dark. And that tracks with what past Dark Universers have said.
The Mummy screenwriter David Koepp recently explained that the Dark Universe was being rethought. “Yeah, you know, sometimes they don’t work out,” he said. “It was difficult to work on. The entire [Dark Universe] thing was a little ill-conceived, and I think Universal realized, ‘Wait a minute – we are chasing the parade, not leading it. Let’s stop and rethink. We love monster movies. Let’s do this in a different way.’” This sentiment was echoed by ex-Invisible Man screenwriter Ed Solomon, who said that "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."
Which monsters will Feig’s story involve? It’s been reported since its announcement that Dark Army would involve monsters both classic and original, but until the script gets the thumbs-up, it — and perhaps the future of the Dark Universe — is still murky.
(Disclosure: SYFY WIRE and Universal Studios are both owned by NBCUniversal.)