In a move that is surprising virtually no one, Universal Studios has pumped the brakes on its upcoming Bride of Frankenstein movie from Dream Girls director Bill Condon, which was set to star Javier Bardem and Angelina Jolie as the Frankenstein monster and his Bride (respectively).
As Deadline reports, Universal is going back to the drawing board in terms of its approach to the film, but studio execs are not yet ready to pronounce it dead, altogether. Reportedly, Bardem and Jolie will still be on call for the film, after it has undergone some script revisions and general retooling. Here's how Universal described the situation, in its official press release:
“After thoughtful consideration, Universal Pictures and director Bill Condon have decided to postpone Bride of Frankenstein. None of us want to move too quickly to meet a release date when we know this special movie needs more time to come together. Bill is a director whose enormous talent has been proven time and again, and we all look forward to continuing to work on this film together.”
This announcement about the Bride of Frankenstein delay may seem like prudent strategy by Universal to truly invest in a quality film - but it also comes with undertones of uncertainty and trepidation, which are probably in large part the fault of Tom Cruise's Mummy movie this past summer.
The Mummy made a heavy-handed attempt to launch the larger Dark Universe franchise, introducing characters like Russell Crowe's Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde as the head of a worldwide covert monster-hunting organization. The Mummy also teased creatures like Dracula, The Wolf Man, and The Creature From The Black Lagoon, who were all supposed to get their respective solo film adventures.
At the time of writing his, The Mummy has approximately $400 million worldwide (on a $125 million budget), but more damaging were the abysmal reviews for the film, which definitely tainted the concept of a larger Dar Universe franchise for many fans, as The Mummy was supposed to set the tone for what followed.
The biggest mistake that The Mummy may have made was muddying the waters in terms of what the Dark Universe franchise is all about. A lot of that may be specifically related to the film's star; ever since The Mummy's failure, there's been all kinds of buzz about how Tom Cruise basically hijacked creative control from fledgling director Alex Kurtzman, which sets the movie's many flaws largely on Cruise's shoulders.
As we noted in our own Popculture.com review of The Mummy, the film showcased a lot of potential to be a unique mix of action and horror tropes, which fans can't get from competing cinematic universes like Marvel, DC, and Star Wars. That potential is still there, but as Deadline notes in its report, "the welfare of the franchise is contingent on getting the next one right."
In other words: While Universal's Dark Universe may not be dead yet, it certainly would be if Bride of Frankenstein were to flop. Universal needs to have an entire franchise plan sketched out and solidified before jumping into this next production - that is, if the studio can even settle on a suitable plan of attack on Bride of Frankenstein.
We'll keep you updated - that is, if you even care about the Dark Universe franchise, at all.