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For a while it very much looked like Universal Pictures had a clear idea what it wanted to do with the company’s classic lineup of monsters, but things didn’t exactly wind up going as planned. The Dark Universe was an ambitious approach, however it was stopped dead in its tracks by the failure of a single film: Alex Kurtzman’s The Mummy. Despite all of the planning the studio did, and nice deal of A-list casting – including Johnny Depp as The Invisible Man – the entire thing fell apart surprisingly quickly.
As a result of these developments, we were again left wondering what the future would eventually hold for this collection of cinematic icons, and in late January we learned an interesting update. Notable horror studio Blumhouse announced they were moving forward with their own version of The Invisible Man, with writer/director Leigh Whannell at the helm. And while the report suggested it as a project still in early development, I recently had the chance to speak with producer Jason Blum about how the whole thing came together, and he confirmed a start for later in 2019:
It came about very organically because Leigh had a spectacular idea. And so when he had this idea we talked to the studio about it, and I would say the idea kind of fits squarely into the tenants of Blumhouse. It's really character-based, it's story-based. It doesn't rely a ton on stunts and visual effects, and I love it. We're going to shoot it this year, and I can't wait for people to see it.
The latest title from Blumhouse, Happy Death Day 2U, is now playing in theaters, and earlier this month I hopped on the phone with Jason Blum to not only talk about the new film, but also the many projects that are currently in the works at Blumhouse. At one point I steered the discussion towards the recent announcement about The Invisible Man, and learned not only about its origins, but the production schedule plans.
When news about this new take on the classic science-fiction story was announced, it was said that it was unclear if it would actually be the next Universal Monsters feature to go in front of cameras. Given Jason Blum’s comments, however, one can pretty much assume at this point that will be the case.
First adapted by director James Whale back in 1933, The Invisible Man was originally a late 19th century H.G. Wells novella about a scientist named Griffin who discovers a chemical process to turn himself completely invisible. Unfortunately, one of the side effects is also total madness, eventually leading Griffin on a horrific crime spree, and the authorities challenged with facing off against a criminal they can’t see.
Surely there will at least be some effects work at play in Leigh Whannell’s new vision, as it will have to sell the audience of the protagonist’s invisibility, but a more character and story-based interpretation of the story sounds fantastic. The Invisible Man is a pretty straight-forward premise that lends itself to new and interesting narrative choices, and based on Jason Blum’s comments, it sounds like Whannell has discovered something novel.
This will probably be of little surprise to those who have been following Leigh Whannell’s recent work – especially his most recent directorial effort, Upgrade. He’s always been a talented writer, as seen through his many collaborations with James Wan, but his Blumhouse action film from last year is next level. The cinematography and editing featured – particularly in fight sequences – is brilliant, bonkers, and unique, and the thought of him taking a similar visually stylistic approach to The Invisible Man generates extreme cinematic anticipation.
Johnny Depp will definitely not be starring in Leigh Whannell’s film, which means that the role of Griffin is seemingly up for grabs – and even though it isn’t exactly a “face” part, one can imagine a lot of talented individuals in the industry going after the project. Given the scheduling plans, it would not be at all surprising if we were to learn the identity of the star in the coming weeks and months.
The Invisible Man doesn’t currently have a target release date, but it sounds like it is coming together fast – so be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for all of the latest updates. And for a fantastic dose of new Blumhouse awesomeness that you can see in theaters right now, go check out Happy Death Day 2U, which is playing nationwide.