Goth Chick News: Is Universal Finally Treating Its Iconic Catalog the Right Way?

Goth Chick News: Is Universal Finally Treating Its Iconic Catalog the Right Way?

I’ve spent more words here than I care to count ranting about the atrocities Universal Studios has repeatedly tried to visit on its iconic monster movie catalog. I could dry heave every time I think about the whole Dark Universe debacle and the fact that we were this close to having a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde courtesy of Russell Crowe, a Van Helsing brought to you by Channing Tatum, Dwayne “the rock” Johnson as Wolfman, and (I can barely type this) Angelina Jolie recreating the Bride of Frankenstein. Literally, the only good thing I can say about the first step in this hellish march to mediocrity that was Tom Cruise in The Mummy (2017), is that its spectacular crash and burn lit fire to the entire concept.

But here we are in 2024 and a mere year away from the launch of Universal’s new Epic Universe theme park, part of which is a new “land” called – you guessed it – Dark Universe. Sources point to plans for the new park being in the works since the early 2000’s, and scuttling the big-budget remakes of their classic monster films meant Universal was left with a revenue gap that tied their new park property to their movie vault. The answer, when it finally started being talked about at Hollywood cocktail parties, is a classic example of the best ideas being the original ones.

As it turns out, Universal had started developing contemporary film adaptations of their classic monsters back in 2006. The concept was for lower-budget remakes rather than glossy blockbuster type movies, thereby preserving the focus on the characters and stories of the originals. The first title in the lineup was meant to be The Invisible Man.

However, some executive had the bright idea that what Universal really needed was a star-studded, interconnected monster “universe” ala Marvel, and to heck with this indie-type crap, and get me Tom Cruise on the line. The Invisible Man was pushed back to the third, maybe fourth film, with Johnny Depp attached.

Fast forward to the spectacular implosion of The Mummy and the scrapping of the serialized universe, and enter one of our favorite production companies, Blumhouse. Successful horror film producer Jason Blum, founder of the company, had at various times publicly expressed his interest in working on revivals of Universal’s monster catalog. He convinced Universal to let him have a crack at their original remake concept of focusing on the story rather than the special effects.

The Invisible Man (Universal Pictures, February 28, 2020)

This resulted in The Invisible Man, released in 2020 starring Elizabeth Moss (A Handmaid’s Tale), with a total production budget of $7M and a return of $144M (~20x). For comparison, The Mummy’s budget was $200M and returned $400M (2x).

Blumhouse for the win, which brings us to today’s exciting news.

Blumhouse Productions has officially commenced filming its reboot of the Universal legend, Wolf Man, under the direction of Leigh Whannell who also directed The Invisible Man. The film is slated for a theatrical release on October 25th of this year which, along with Blumhouse at the helm, indicates another character-focused rather than CGI-focused outing.

Ironically, current Hollywood “it boy” Ryan Gosling was originally shopping around a Wolf Man reboot a couple years back, setting the story in contemporary times. The project got kicked around to various writers and directors before landing a Blumhouse sometime last year. The lead roles have been filled by Christopher Abbott (Poor Things) and Julia Garner (The Assistant), with Gosling remaining involved as an executive producer.

Leigh Whannell on set for Wolf Man

The announcement of the film’s production start was made by Jason Blum via “X”, who shared a glimpse of Whannell on set, signaling the beginning of what I hope will be another respectful imagining of an iconic tale. It also looks like Universal is introducing new characters to Florida’s Dark Universe as well, such as Victoria Frankenstein who will play a large role in the theme park, opening up the story to a younger diverse fanbase.

Whatever Universal ultimately does with their monsters, I sincerely hope they remain focused on the elements that made these films classic in every sense of the word. As much as I enjoy some of his work, Dwayne Johnson is no Lon Chaney.


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Wasn’t Dracula Untold supposed to be part of the Universal Dark Universe at one point?


I’m with you. We dodged a major bullet on this one although I don’t see how it could have ever flown amd I’m so sick of the whole “universe” connected franchise bullshit. Doing lower budget more adventurous films is very much the way to go and if somewhere down the they shoot a Lewtonesque suggestive horror film on B&W film I’ll be in heaven.

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