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The last thing we heard about Universal Pictures' Dark Universe was not good news for future projects, and yet, it appears that at least one Dark Universe film might be happening after all. While Bride of Frankenstein doesn't have a release date, after being pulled from the schedule last year, pre-production is reportedly moving forward with director Bill Condon assembling a production team, including a cinematographer, a lead costume designer, and more.
Needless to say, this is a bit of a surprise, the last thing we heard about the Dark Universe, was that the two producers tasked with putting it together had both left for other projects. No replacements were named, and none have been announced since, which means the Dark Universe is a ship without a captain as far as we know. We would have expected to hear about the franchise being under new management before we heard about any individual films moving forward.
Things weren't looking good for the return of Universal's classic movie monster cinematic universe after The Mummy failed to impress either audiences or critics. Several films were on the docket including a Johnny Depp-led Invisible Man and a Creature from the Black Lagoon film with Javier Bardem. However, the next film out of the gate was expected to be Bride of Frankenstein, potentially with Angelina Jolie as the titular character, but the film was pulled off the schedule several months ago. At the time, we were told the film was only being "postponed" and according to Omega Underground that actually was the case, as Bill Condon is tapping a lot of the crew responsible for his last film, Disney's Beauty and the Beast, to help out with this new project.
It's possible that even if true, Bride of Frankenstein finally starting to move forward doesn't mean much of anything for the larger Dark Universe. Tthe plan could be to simply produce Bride as a stand-alone film, without any connection to the larger franchise. Depending on how far along the various properties are, it may be worth it to see them through, even if the franchise idea doesn't come together. It's also possible that the reports of the Dark Universe's death have been greatly exaggerated. Perhaps there is somebody spearheading the whole thing, or at least a plan to find somebody, with the films moving forward in the meantime.
Part of the frustration that many had with The Mummy was the way it force-fed its audience franchise exposition, so perhaps making Bride of Frankenstein without any thoughts to the Dark Universe is the way to go. If it's done right, the idea can still be connected to the larger universe after the fact, which is probably the way it should be done anyway.