Feeling left out of Warner Bros and Marvel Studios’ shared universe party, Universal Studios is in the beginning stages of a plan to reboot its library of monster movies as a single cohesive universe of action adventure movies about characters like Frankenstein, The Invisible Man and The Mummy. The new roster kicked off this year with Dracula Untold, in which Luke Evans played the infamous vampire, and now Universal is putting together a “brain trust” of screenwriters to plot out future films.
The brain trust includes Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley and screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski (Prisoners), along with The Amazing Spider-Man team Alex Kurtzman and Ed Solomon, and The Fast and the Furious writer Chris Morgan. Based on what we know, it sounds like the writers will come together as a collective in order to work out the architecture of the monster movie universe before separating out to work individually on scripts for the various films, similar to the writing process for the upcoming Avatar sequels.
Now Deadline reports that another writer has been added to Universal’s pool of monster experts. Jay Basu, who wrote the script for sci-fi sequel Monsters: Dark Continent and action adventure The Dinosaur Project, is the latest mind to join Universal’s team, though there aren’t yet any specifics as to which film(s) Basu will be working on. It’s possible that Universal wants to have a framework laid out before assigning monsters to each screenwriter.
Monster movies that are potentially set to be rebooted include The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Wolf Man, Van Helsing and Frankenstein. The latter film might be best left until last for fear of overkill, since I, Frankenstein was only released earlier this year and Victor Frankenstein, which stars James McAvoy as the title character, is set for release next year. There’s only so much Frankenstein that audiences can take at any one time.
Dracula Untold, while profitable, didn’t exactly reach blockbuster heights at the box office – and with a project this big, Universal probably isn’t going to be happy with $200 million worldwide for each movie. With that said, it’s worth remembering that one of the first movies in Marvel’s cinematic universe, The Incredible Hulk, barely managed to break even at the box office. There’s plenty of room for Universal’s monster reboot to climb upwards.
The writing team is now a pretty odd mix of newcomers, rising stars and established Hollywood pros. Basu is reportedly a highly in-demand talent, but Monsters: Dark Continent has so far received mostly negative reviews from critics. Perhaps Basu will fare better with more classic monsters.