Shared Monster Universe Becomes Dark

Universal Pictures announced on Monday that the name for their shared universe of monster movies is “Dark Universe” and they introduced the logo and musical theme composed by Danny Elfman. While it can be seen on the big screen before The Mummy (June 9), a teaser featuring the original Universal Monsters is now available on YouTube (a link which appears below).

“Thou shalt rise again.” Ardath Bey (Boris Karloff), The Mummy (1932)

The first characters of Dark Universe will be introduced in The Mummy.  They include Nick Morton (Tom Cruise), The Mummy (Sofia Boutella) and Dr. Jekyll (Russell Crowe).  However, Universal also confirmed that Dark Universe will eventually include the Invisible Man (Johnny Depp) and Frankenstein’s monster (Javier Bardem).

“To a new world of gods and monsters.” Dr. Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger), Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

The next film in Dark Universe will open on February 14, 2019, a delay from the original date of April 13, 2018, and will be Bride of Frankenstein, directed by Bill Condon.  Condon is currently known as the director of Disney’s live action Beauty & the Beast; however, he also directed Gods and Monsters (1998), which is about James Whale and features scenes during the making of the original Bride of Frankenstein.  (No word yet on whom will be playing the bride, although rumor has it to be Angelina Jolie.)

“The superstitions of yesterday can become the reality of today,” Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan), Dracula (1931)

Dark Universe was launched by Alex Kurtzman, who is director and producer of The Mummy, and Chris Morgan, who recently wrote The Fate of the Furious.  Universal Pictures chairman, Donna Langley, stated, “We take enormous pride in the creativity and passion that has inspired the reimagining of Universal’s iconic monsters and promise audiences we will expand this series strategically. The enterprise masterfully developed by Chris and Alex will allow each subsequent chapter the right time to find the perfect cast, filmmakers and vision to fulfill it.”

Whether these intentions will be realized remains to be seen. Here are a couple quick thoughts about the teaser trailer:

  • I like the moving logo; it fits perfectly with the regular Universal Pictures globe and title.
  • Bela Lugosi’s Dracula is notably absent in favor of quick shots of Carlos Villarias from the Spanish version of the 1931 film and John Carradine from 1944-45 monster rallies like House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula. (Supposedly there is bad blood between Universal and the estate of Lugosi.)
  • Scenes from 1943’s Phantom of the Opera, which was filmed in Technicolor, are represented in black and white so that the monster belongs with all the others. It’s strange to me that they’re using Claude Rains’s Phantom instead of Lon Chaney’s from the 1925 classic. Perhaps they don’t own the rights to the original any longer; I know it’s available on home video from other labels and may be in the public domain.