Cinematic Universes have come to be ‘in vogue’ nowadays. In fashion to the point that every potential franchise aims to reach that point; the point where their films aren’t just a chronological series, but a collection of chapters and excerpts from a wider fictional world.
We’ve seen this in a whole number of movie franchises – Harry Potter, Star Wars, DC and Marvel. All of these Cinematic Universes have more than just chronological chapters that make up a large story; Harry Potter has now extended to include Fantastic Beasts, Star Wars has extended to include their anthology spin-off stories, DC has the Justice League and all their individuals’ adventures and Marvel have the same, but the Avengers and all of their heros’ individual narratives. This is a handful of some of the biggest Cinematic Universes today (and it looks like in the future we may have to add Fast and Furious to that list).
But it seems Universal won’t settle for just Fast and Furious. It’s been announced that the big new Cinematic Universe we can look forward to will be Universal Studio’s ‘Dark Universe‘, based off their classic originals (all of which we can see in the announcement’s video). This will start with The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella and coming out in June this year, and continue with The Bride of Frankenstein, directed by Beauty and the Beast‘s Bill Condon and scheduled to be released in February 2019. The Mummy will also introduce the character of Dr Jekyll, played by Russell Crowe, who will hopefully get his own standalone film at some point in the future. In fact, Dr Jekyll/ Mr Hyde is particularly important as he will link the films in the universe together as the head of a secret supernatural investigation group called the Prodigium.
“At its organizing principle, Dark Universe films are connected by a mysterious multi-national organization known as Prodigium. Led by the enigmatic and brilliant Dr. Henry Jekyll, Prodigium’s mission is to track, study and—when necessary—destroy evil embodied in the form of monsters in our world. Working outside the aegis of any government, and with practices concealed by millennia of secrecy, Prodigium protects the public from knowledge of the evil that exists just beyond the thin membrane of civilized society…and will go to any length to contain it.” (source)
This is already starting to look good as characters crossing over between films is one of the more enjoyable aspects of a shared Cinematic Universe. Along with easter eggs teasing future films, which we can already see with a glimpse of an arm from Creatures of the Black Lagoon in Dr Jekyll’s lab. And then there’s the exciting news that Christopher McQuarrie is involved in one of the projects as well as the casting of Javiar Bardem as Frankenstein’s Monster and Johnny Depp as the Invisible Man.
There’s a lot of pressure on Universal however as these films they are basing this universe off are very important. More than that, they are iconic, building blocks of the horror genre and to the history of Universal as a studio. Their entire announcement on the Danny Elfman-scored video acknowledges this, showing the whole Universe comes from these classic masterpieces. We can only hope they’ll be treated with respect. But it seems like they’re in good hands from the looks of the core creatives – namely Alex Kurtzman (the man responsible for writing and directing the first Dark Universe film, The Mummy) and Chris Morgan (the man behind the last few Fast and Furious movies). As they said:
“When Universal approached us with the idea of reimagining these classic characters, we recognized the responsibility of respecting their legacy while bringing them into new and modern adventures. The studio and our fellow creative collaborators have championed and challenged us as we’ve begun to spin the web of Dark Universe. It’s our hope these movies will engross longtime fans and spark the imaginations of brand-new ones.”
On top of that, they also have other Cinematic Universes to compete with – Cinematic Universes that have gone on for a long time and become very well-established, such as Marvel and Star Wars etc.
All things said and done though, this is all shaping up very nicely and looks set to be a very exciting cinematic universe. Universal have made the stakes very high, so let’s hope The Mummy‘s an impressive success!