If the hype surrounding Marvel and DC has reached fever pitch following the events of San Diego Comic-Con, then it is easy to forget that Universal attempted to begin their very own dynasty in 2017. June's rebooted release of The Mummy categorically bombed with critics and audiences to sit on a Rotten Tomatoes rating of just 15%, but the global box office taking has convinced studio executives to forge ahead with their initial plans.
Bringing aboard some of the biggest names in Hollywood to draw the crowds, the Dark Universe will continue in that vein as they look to recast Van Helsing. The infamous monster hunter was played by Hugh Jackman in 2004 during a forgettable title, but now they have earmarked Magic Mike star Channing Tatum for the lead role.
Channing to be the Grounded Hero Amid a World of Fantasy
According to THR, the mixed fortunes at the box office from the 2017 blockbusters has forced studio's to consider their creative decisions more. But for Universal, they saw Tom Cruise's inclusion into the series as one of the saving graces, not a sore point.
"Convinced Tom Cruise saved Mummy from being a bigger flop, the studio is betting on names, prepping an offer to Angelina Jolie for Bride of Frankenstein (slated for release on February 14, 2019) and polishing the script for Van Helsing, aimed for Channing Tatum. Johnny Depp is attached to star in The Invisible Man."
Rather than producing a packed schedule years in advance, the rollout will be conducted more gradually while Russell Crowe remains the link between the films.
"Despite the film's lackluster performance ($389.6m worldwide to date), Universal is moving forward with its monster-filled Dark Universe, but slowly, to allow for more script development. The stories will be tied together by Russell Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll. "
Van Helsing co-writer Eric Heisserer told Collider back in February that the new and improved hero would be anything other than super. While other protagonists and antagonists would be possessed or have incredible abilities, Helsing would have little more than his instincts and a few handy weapons.
“I was eager to try and buck that trend and showcase someone who had no extraordinary powers, just resourcefulness and will and kind of a stubbornness who’s able to tackle some of these bigger problems," he remarked. "Because I don’t like the idea that we’re infusing our public and our pop culture with the idea that only super people can solve the world’s problems. I like the idea of the everyday hero stepping up to the plate and getting things fixed.”
VH Offer Will Test Tatum's Love Affair With Gambit
If THR's report does result in a tangible offer to Tatum, the 37-year old would have to carefully consider his ties to Marvel's Gambit project. As he appeared in San Diego this past week during the Kingsman: The Golden Circle panel, he indicated that all systems are go for the X-Men spinoff despite a string of delays.
"I think we got super, super lucky," he explained to Cinemablend. "I think a lot of setbacks, we'll look at them in hindsight as giant blessings. Because we were making it, (and) we're writing a movie right at the turn of a paradigm shift in movies. So we got lucky that we didn't just come out with ours, which I don't think was fully formed. It was a good idea. We were going in the right direction."
There might be a chance to pull off both projects, but a long-term commitment to Universal would throw his role in Gambit into serious doubt.