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Doing more than just create a series of blockbuster films, Marvel Studios has done its part to change the way that series of blockbuster films are made. No longer is it enough for a hero to exist solely in his own franchise. Instead, the public is now demanding that heroes and villains must co-exist within a much larger pop culture universe that allows for special appearances and crossovers. This ideology has spread throughout the comic book movie world with studios like Fox, Sony and Warner Bros. following similar beats with their X-Men/Fantastic Four, Amazing Spider-Man, and DC Comics characters, respectively. Now Universal Pictures is ready to step up their game in this department, but instead of building a universe of costumed heroes, they're building a universe of monsters.
This news comes from Deadline, which reveals that Universal is ready to make a hard push with their lineup of classic monsters - Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man, Creature Of The Black Lagoon, The Invisible Man, Bride Of Frankenstein, and The Mummy - and are planning a series of films that will all be linked together within a cohesive world. Shepherding this experiment will be Chris Morgan and Alex Kurtzman, which isn't a big surprise if you know the two writer's backgrounds.
For the last eight years, Morgan has been the guy writing the screenplays for the Fast and the Furious movies - one of the biggest franchises in Universal's history. He has scripted every movie in the series since and including The Fast & Furious: Toyko Drift, and even stayed on longer than director Justin Lin to make Fast & Furious 7 (which is being helmed by James Wan).
Kurtzman's ties to Universal are a little less strong, given that his biggest title for the studio as a writer/producer was the flop Cowboys & Aliens, but one can't deny his experience in blockbusters. Earlier this year he was one of the writers responsible for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but his other previous credits include Transformers, Mission: Impossible III and Star Trek. Recently, he has been working with Universal on both Van Helsing and Mummy reboots. While it's unclear at this point if Van Helsing will fit into the new plans, The Mummy is being planned as the movie that will launch the big new franchise.
So what is the timetable on this monstrous development? The Mummy is currently slated to be released on April 22, 2016, and things will unfold from there (how quickly is unknown). Deadline adds, "they will also reevaluate projects which have preexisting attachments, and bring it under one cohesive strategy."
While I definitely think that this sounds like a cool idea, there are some issues that Universal, Morgan and Kurtzman will have to navigate around: 1) It was just a few years ago that the studio tried to reboot The Wolfman with Benicio Del Toro, and the movie was a box office bomb. 2) Frankenstein films have been popping up everywhere lately, and the Paul McGuigan-directed version, starring James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe is coming out next year. And 3) Universal has Dracula Untold coming out in just a few months - meaning it was presumably made before the cohesive universe idea started becoming real. Hopefully the studio has a plan to get around all of this. It will be interesting to watch this franchise grow over the next few years, so stay tuned for updates.