With “Hobbs & Shaw,” the latest entry in the “Fast & Furious” franchise opening this weekend, the film’s writer/producer Chris Morgan has been doing the press rounds, and recently weighed in about his glory days as a progenitor of Universal’s busted Dark Universe mega franchise.
The producer of 2017’s box-office bellyflop “The Mummy” — i.e. patient zero of the Dark Universe — Morgan told io9 he has no “regrets or anything like that… it probably was trying to come together too quickly, I would say. And I think everyone got to take a breath and take a step back and take a look at it, and now just focus on maybe doing it a little bit slower.”
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“The Mummy” starred Tom Cruise, Courtney B. Vance and Russell Crowe, and was directed by Alex Kurtzman, who hasn’t made a film since but has taken the lead on CBS All Access’s various “Star Trek” series. With projected losses of nearly $100 million for Universal Pictures, the film failed to launch what was supposed to be a sprawling Marvel Cinematic Universe analog for the studio. IndieWire called “The Mummy” “an extremely grim welcome to Universal’s new world of gods and monsters.” Additional planned titles for the Universe included “Bride of Frankenstein,” directed by Oscar-winning prestige filmmaker Bill Condon, and starring Javier Bardem. (IndieWire recently featured the implosion of the Dark Universe in its “Film Stories That Defined the Decade” feature.)
“I think Universal’s going about the monster films the right way,” continued Morgan, a writer on the “Fast & Furious” films since 2006’s “Tokyo Drift.” “Which is to really focus on taking a good script, good story, put it out there, if you’re going to build a universe build it from something strong like that. And I think they’re not so much worried about putting a universe out there as they are making great monster films, so I’m looking forward to seeing them.”
After “The Mummy” flatlined, Universal pivoted its strategy away from a vast interconnected universe of titles, and toward tapping hot directors with singular visions to craft their own horror stories. “The Invisible Man,” once set to star Johnny Depp, is now a Blumhouse production directed by Leigh Whannell (“Upgrade,” “Insidious Chapter 3”) and starring Elisabeth Moss and Oliver Jackson-Cohen (“The Haunting of Hill House”). It’s slated for a March 13, 2020 release from Universal.
In another bid to challenge Disney’s stronghold on the industry, Universal just planted its stake in Florida to build an “Epic Universe” theme park mere weeks before Disney opens its Star Wars-themed park in the Sunshine State.
“Hobbs & Shaw,” starring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Staitham, opens this weekend.