The moment we all knew was coming has arrived. Variety reports that Universal has “tabled” its idea for an interconnected universe of classic monster movies (called the “Dark Universe”) and are starting thing fresh with Invisible Man.
Leigh Whannell, one of the co-creators of Saw and Insidious, has signed on to direct an Invisible Man film, teaming with his regular producing partner, Jason Blum of Blumhouse. Variety reports that this is believed to be the first example of “a fresh strategy for the Universal monsters properties, bringing creative directors with distinctive visions to the classic characters.” And though Whannell is the first name revealed, there’s no guarantee his movie will be the first film into production as Universal is currently taking pitches.
So how did we get here? To recap, before the Tom Cruise Mummy film was even released, several other actors were cast as various Universal Monsters like Frankenstein and the Invisible Man for upcoming movies that would all tie together, like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, when The Mummy failed, that strategy quickly fell by the wayside – though nothing was ever made “official,” this news is basically a confirmation of that.
Johnny Depp was the actor originally expected to play the Invisible Man, and though he is not thought to be part of this movie, Variety’s sources suggest it could happen in the future. The same goes for actors like Javier Bardem and even Cruise’s character: They could appear in future movies, but it’s not definite. For now, the idea is to encourage individual filmmakers to make great movies, and see what happens.
“Throughout cinematic history, Universal’s classic monsters have been reinvented through the prism of each new filmmaker who brought these characters to life,” Peter Cramer, Universal’s president of production, told Variety. “We are excited to take a more individualised approach for their return to screen, shepherded by creators who have stories they are passionate to tell with them.”
To that end, Variety also reports “the titles will be rooted in horror, with no restrictions on budget, tone, or rating, and no expectation that they will exist as part of a shared universe. An insider close to the process said freeing up the characters’ origins and stories to different interpretations will help them appeal to modern audiences.”
Which is to say, the Universal Monsters are finally being treated with the respect they deserve. Now hire Guillermo del Toro for crying out loud.