Right after completing a new entry in one cinematic universe, screenwriter Jon Spaihts is hopping into another. The Doctor Strange scribe is jumping from the Marvel Cinematic Universe into Universal’s Monster Universe. That’s a lot of universes in one sentence, but it’s exactly what Hollywood is so obsessed with at the moment – making a bunch of movies under the umbrella of a shared world. And now we have some new details straight from Spaihts on how the new monster movies will connect.
In their unending battle to compete with the box-office behemoth that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Universal tapped their deep roster of classic horror properties for interlocking remakes that could form one larger narrative tapestry. The recent Dracula Untold was intended to launch the Universal Universe, or whatever better thing they decide to call it, but lackluster ticket sales gave studio higher-ups pause. They’ve since redoubled their efforts, hiring Sofia Boutella to play their Mummy and Tom Cruise as the target of her curses, Russell Crowe as their Dr. Jekyll, Javier Bardem in the role of Frankenstein’s monster, and Johnny Depp as The Invisible Man. But even with such extensive plans already laid out, Universal continues to expand.
It’s been a while since we had an update on Universal’s shared universe reboot of their classic monster characters, set to kick off with Alex Kurtzman’s redo of The Mummy in 2017. In addition to tackling famous monsters like The Wolfman and Dracula, the new cinematic universe also somewhat bizarrely includes a Van Helsing reboot, which has just tapped a pair of writers with sufficient experience in horror and sci-fi.
Adding a minor twist to an existing IP these days has become standard practice with TV, yet somehow Syfy’s gender-flipped Van Helsing series is nowhere near as surprising as its helmer. Playwright and indie filmmaker Neil LaBute, of all people, will showrun the new Syfy vampire series, following the adventures of Vanessa Helsing.
Few cinematic legacies are as strong as that of the Universal Monsters, whose films have spent the past 80 years aging from B-movies into genre masterpieces. These aren't just movies; they're the foundation of an entire genre, the roots of an entire cinematic language. These aren't just great movies -- they're vital components of human culture, touchstones whose reverberations can still be felt today. And Universal has no idea what to do with them.
Few movie studios have a legacy as clearly defined by horror movies as Universal, who made their name in the early days of cinema with films like 'Dracula,' 'Frankenstein,' 'The Wolfman' and 'The Mummy.' And no one seems to be more aware of the importance those icons have than the studio itself. Why else would they be launching a massive campaign to revive their classic monsters in a series of films over the next few years?
Early last year, we learned that the screenwriting team of Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman were tasked with bringing 'Van Helsing' and 'The Mummy' back to the big screen for Universal Studios. And since then ... silence. But now Orci, while on the road promoting the upcoming film adaptation of 'Ender's Game' (on which he's a producer), spoke more about the projects. Turns out, it seems that what Universal is planning may be bigger than we thought.
Universal is going forward with their 'Van Hesling' reboot, and currently have Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman attached as writers and producers, and Tom Cruise attached as the star (and producer... when you're successful, you get to produce your hits). Now it looks like Rupert Sanders' hat is in the ring for the directing gig (no word if he will also get to produce).
Have you had enough ridiculous in your week? What if we told you that Tom Cruise is starring in a 'Van Helsing' reboot and fans are pushing for Donald Glover to star in Michael Bay's 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' movie? All this and Will Smith on a gyro-cycle in this week's dose of ridiculous!
Do Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci - writers of 'Star Trek,' 'Transformers' and 'Cowboys & Aliens' - ever sleep? Because it's amazing to see how many projects these two end up doing within the span of a year. They continue to pack on even more pictures to their already overflowing pile with the help of Universal Pictures.