THR reported this week that Universal producers Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan have officially quit the Dark Universe franchise effective immediately. There was a sense of hope and optimism that the studio could use their grade-A talent to create something comparable to the MCU and DCEU, but such was the scale of disappointment for The Mummy on a critical and commercial level, the pair have decided to walk away.
This leaves the entire Dark Universe concept in a state of flux as the duo were going to oversee the whole series from a creative and logistical standpoint. Titles like Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Wolfman, The Invisible Man and Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hide were all slated beyond the Tom Cruise picture.
Now that schedule has been put on indefinite hiatus as Universal attempt to salvage an uncertain future.
Is The Standalone Model The Way Forward For Dark Universe?
Attempting to hose down talk of failure, Universal president of production Peter Cramer indicated that they could shift their focus away from a shared crossover world whereby filmmakers were given full autonomy.
"We've learned many lessons throughout the creative process on Dark Universe so far, and we are viewing these titles as filmmaker-driven vehicles, each with their own distinct vision," he remarked. "We are not rushing to meet a release date and will move forward with these films when we feel they are the best versions of themselves."
Light on the Horizon: Franchises Can Be Revived After False Start
Quizzed by THR about this entire fiasco, comScore box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian gave a glimmer of hope for those who would death-ride Universal's franchise attempts. Pointing to Marvel's lackluster starts with Spider-Man and Thorwhere reboots had to take place or tones had to shift, the MCU would reimagine those characters and venture forward into 2017 with two stellar features.
"It's never too late to course-correct," he said, "because with each movie, you get another shot."
Freelance critic Jordan Hoffman also pointed to some good news for one of the departing producers, with Kurtzman having more of a hands on role with the Netflix continuation of a famous science-fiction series.
"This affords Alex Kurtzman more time for a project that is really working well: Star Trek Discovery," Hoffman quipped.