It's official: The new movies starring Universal's classic monsters won't resemble their predecessors.
During a Hollywood Reporter roundtable with a number of studio heads, Universal Pictures chief Donna Langley gave away the game about the company's recently announced shared universe that will star the Wolf Man, the Mummy, the Bride of Frankenstein, the Invisible Man and others.
Essentially, she admitted that since Universal does not have a shared superhero universe to plunder as Disney does with Marvel and Warner Bros. with DC. This is the best they could come up with:
“We don’t have any capes (in our film library). But what we do have is an incredible legacy and history with the monster characters. We’ve tried over the years to make monster movies -- unsuccessfully, actually. So, we took a good, hard look at it, and we settled upon an idea, which is to take it out of the horror genre, put it more in the action-adventure genre and make it present day, bringing these incredibly rich and complex characters into present day and reimagine them and reintroduce them to a contemporary audience.”
Now, you could argue that Langley has box-office history mostly on her side. The 1999 reboot of The Mummy and its two sequels were enormous hits while repositioning that title squarely as a Raiders of the Lost Ark-style adventure franchise. Meanwhile, 2010's more traditional, Gothic take on The Wolf Man was a flop. Then again, so was I, Frankenstein (not produced by Universal), which turned the monster into a hunky action hero and was a box-office disaster.
Look, The Invisible Man could arguably lend itself to an action-adventure story. So could The Creature From the Black Lagoon (as long as they don't make the Creature the hero, that is). But Dracula and Frankenstein's creations only really succeed because they are monsters, meant to frighten and not excite us. They don't team up to fighter bigger monsters. If last month's soulless Dracula Untold was any indication of what's in store, it's going to be a long few years for fans of these iconic creations.
What do you think? Can the Universal Monsters succeed if they're patterned after the Marvel superheroes?