The Mummy will rise no more. The Wolfman will never howl at the moon. Frankenstein’s Monster will never be chased by pitchforks. The Invisible Man will never be seen.
Wait, that last one isn’t a surprise...
Universal’s attempt at a planned monster-centric cinematic universe, obnoxiously dubbed “Dark Universe”, is no more. Producers Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan have departed the franchise and have left all development in limbo. This all comes months after The Mummy starring Tom Cruise crashed and burned at the box office. The Mummy was going to be the first film in the franchise. From there, we would have gotten spin-offs starring Johnny Depp as The Invisible Man, Javier Bardem as Frankenstein’s Monster, Angelina Jolie as The Bride of Frankenstein and, of course, Dwayne Johnson possibly as The Wolfman. All the movies would have been connected and actors, like Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll, would slip between films and tie everything together. Hey, it worked for Marvel right?
Yes, it worked for Marvel but it worked organically. You can’t force something like these cinematic universes. Well, you can but it’s usually a mistake. Throw all the money you want at it but if the franchise doesn’t start with a good foundation (and The Mummy is not a good foundation) then there is no way to build upon it. So they had a good idea they just didn't have a good movie. Lesson one, Universal: make good movies if you want audiences clamoring for spin-offs and sequels.
And another thing: if Universal does move forward, I hope it’s with actual horror movies. These iconic characters are the original movie monsters and monsters should be frightening. Sadly The Mummy wasn’t a horror movie, it was an action film. I shudder to think of The Wolfman or Frankenstein being just more bombastic summer blockbusters with loud noises and no scares. These movies should freak us out. And don’t act like audiences aren’t hungry for horror. It just killed it at the box office and the genre is one of the most reliable in Hollywood. If Universal gets its act together and re-assembles the Dark Universe let’s hope they actually scare us. Don’t mess up this opportunity!