Universal's 'Monsterverse' Could Be in Jeopardy After Key People Exit

Scary times may be lurking around the corner for Universal's cinematic Dark Universe. Only months after the studio released a star-studded cast photo promising a number of movies starring actors such as Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, and Russell Crowe, it appears that none of the projects are being further developed at this time.

Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan, the writer-producers that were tapped to spearhead the monster universe, departed the franchise, according to The Hollywood Reporter. As for Kurtzman, his deal with Universal lapsed in September and he has been devoting his time and attention to TV shows like CBS All Access' Star Trek: Discovery for which he is a producer.

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Morgan has returned to the Fast and Furious franchise and is penning the script for a spinoff movie starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Jason Statham.

In early October, Universal halted pre-production that had started in London for Bride of Frankenstein, which was to follow The Mummy in becoming the second entry in the franchise. The executives felt that the script by writer-director Bill Condon wasn't quite ready. Originally, the film was slated to debut on Feb. 14, 2019, but that plan has been shelved.

The Dark Universe being in disarray comes after The Mummy delivered a poor performance at the box office. On a budget of $125 million, which could possibly have been considerably higher according to some Hollywood insiders, the Tom Cruise flick grossed $409 million worldwide.

"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," Universal president of production Peter Cramer said. "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."

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Even though the Dark Universe appears to be in trouble at this time, comScore box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian says that there is still hope for the franchise.

"It's never too late to course-correct," he says, "because, with each movie, you get another shot. There's no way to give up on this. This is Universal's legacy."