With Marvel Studios record-breaking Cinematic Universe having already proved to be one of the most lucrative franchises in cinema history, it comes as little surprise that Hollywood studios are establishing their own "Universes". Warner Bros and DC's Extended Universe is already off to an established if somewhat rocky start with last weekend's Wonder Woman set to bring the DCEU back on track, Lucasfilm enjoyed great success last Christmas with its first non-episodic Star Wars movie Rogue One, and Sony Pictures forthcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming is set to finally begin the studios long-planned Spider-Man Shared Universe which will also see celebrated British actor Tom Hardy play Venom in a stand-alone movie currently in development.
Starting in 1923, and spanning until 1960 studio Universal Pictures enjoyed great success with one of if not the first cinematic universes known as the Universal Monsters film series, which spanned an amazing 90 movies, and starred legendary actors such as Boris Karloff, Lou Chaney (Senior and Jr.), Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price and Peter Lorre, among many others. In 2014 the studio sought to resurrect the Universal Monsters franchise as a new cinematic universe with the release of Dracula Untold, starring Luke Evans as the movie's title character. Despite praise for Evans performance Untold received mixed reviews and while technically a commercial success at the box office (earning $217 million against a production budget of $70 million) the movies failure to amass earnings above the seemingly preferred $300 million mark saw Universal Pictures reassess their plans at rebooting their legendary cinematic universe.
The Mummy starring Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, and Sofia Boutella is Universal Pictures renewed attempt at launching their cinematic universe, now titled the Dark Universe. Moving away from the Karloff classic and Stephen Sommers recent action-packed series which saw the cursed priest Imhotep act as the antagonist The Mummy's title character, portrayed by Algerian actress Boutella, is a cursed Egyptian Princess loosely based on the goddess Amunet. Cruise, Crowe, and Boutella will be joined in future Dark Universe movies by some of Hollywoods most sought after actors in title roles, such as Johnny Depp as Dr. Jack Griffin AKA the Invisible Man and Javier Bardem as Dr, Frankenstein's creature, with Crowe playing Dr. Henry Jekyll.
Although star Tom Cruise has enjoyed great success in recent years with Jack Reacher, Oblivion, Edge of Tomorrow and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation it seems the popular actor may be struggling to connect with audiences, with early reviews of The Mummy being less favorable than they were for Dracula Untold, with chief criticisms aimed at Tom Cruises performance as the movie's protagonist mirroring reviews of the actor's last outing in last year's Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. Although when it releases in theaters tomorrow the attraction of an A-list star in the title role should see the movie at least recuperate it's $125 million production budget, such low critical opinion could potentially spell trouble for the Dark Universe.
We have always maintained here at Scified Dark that Universal Pictures cinematic universe should return to its roots as a series of R-rated horror movies. While the use of A-list is a step in the right direction by the studio we still believe that a resurrection of The Mummy directed and written by Clive Barker would be more appealing to audiences, given the author's preference for dark, magical and sexual narratives with deep mythologies.
Will Universal Pictures hope for success with the Dark Universe's next installment or try one last time at reigniting their hopes for their own piece of the cinematic universe pie?