Well before there was the Marvel Cinematic Universe (as far back as the 1930s), there was Universal Pictures’ Shared Monster Movie Universe, where such characters as The Mummy, Frankenstein’s monster, and Dracula would occasionally cross paths with one another. Universal is in the process of reviving its Monster-verse, and in recent months we’ve learned more about the screenwriters who are involved (in one way or another).
It turns out that said writers – including scribe Aaron Guzikowski (Prisoners) and Fargo showrunner/series writer Noah Hawley – are being organized as a “brain trust” for the Universal Monster-verse, in order to ensure that it unfolds as an organized and carefully-constructed form of serialized storytelling for the big screen.
Earlier this year, Lucasfilm officially announced a similar “story group” will be coordinating the Disney/Lucasfilm Star Wars universe, while Sony Pictures had assembled its own “brain trust” for the Amazing Spider-Man film universe before Amazing Spider-Man 2‘s box office (under-)performance left the studio’s future Spider-Man plans up in the air.
As it were, two members of the announced Amazing Spider-Man team – Alex Kurtzman and Ed Solomon (who were supposed to work on Venom together) – have jumped ship and are working on Universal’s Monster-verse instead. Kurtzman was previously announced as one of the architects of the rebooted Monster-verse, and now THR is confirming that Solomon (co-writer of Men in Black and Now You See Me) is part of the “writer collective” for Universal’s revived cinematic world of monsters.
Furthermore, THR reports that the list of monster protagonists set for a reboot include Frankenstein’s monster, Bride of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, and vampire hunter Van Helsing, joining a list that already had The Mummy and The Wolfman marked down. It’s a fair bet that all of these projects will be starting from scratch, rather than drawing from past attempted reboots that’ve since been abandoned (see: David S. Goyer’s planned Invisible Man movie).
Dracula Untold producer Alissa Phillips confirmed last month that the Dracula origins film is part of Universal’s Shared Monster Movie Universe, meaning that Luke Evans’ Drac should be back. That said, there is a chance that Universal will reverse that decision and recast the Dracula role after the Kurtzman-directed The Mummy in 2016 (recalling what Marvel Studios did with the Bruce Banner character after The Incredible Hulk).
However, as Evans’ Dracula is widely considered a highlight of Dracula Untold – and the film has grossed over $200 million worldwide on a $70 million budget – it would make sense to keep Evans’ blood-sucker around. Not to mention, Evans is coming into his own as a leading man who’s already on good terms with the studio (see also Fast & Furious 6), so holding onto him reads as the smart move no matter how you cut it.
Dracula Untold director Gary Shore and our Editor-in-Chief Kofi Outlaw even kicked around ideas for how Evans as Dracula could combine his dark supernatural powers with those possessed by such characters as The Mummy, to positive effect in a future movie. Of course, that will depend in part on what the overarching storyline for the Monsters-verse ends up being (though the formation of a “dark Avengers” style team is very much a strong possibility).
Kurtzman is drawing from a script penned by Jon Spaihts (who wrote the Alien: Engineers script that became Prometheus) for The Mummy, though it’s possible he’s also working on the script. Meanwhile, Guzikowski is writing The Wolfman, while it remains to be seen what Monster films end up being scripted by Hawley and Solomon.
Fast and the Furious series writer Chris Morgan, who is helping Kurtzman shape the Monster-verse, is also part of the Monster movie team, but he hasn’t been assigned to write and/or direct a specific installment yet either (as far as we know, anyway). Feel free and let us know if there’s a particular Monster project you would like to see Morgan tackle, as well as which monster movies you hope the other members of the team are working on.
The Mummy opens in U.S. theaters on June 24th, 2016, followed by an Untitled Universal Monster Franchise Film on April 21st, 2017.