Saturday, October 19, 2013

Universal Looking to Go the Shared Universe Route to Create Some Kind of Monster Squad

Ever since Marvel Studios blew past the billion dollar mark by getting all of their various protagonists together and teaming them up in a big crossover movie, The Avengers, every other studio out there has been clamoring to find a way to recreate that success. Whether that's Sony looking to build to a Sinister Six movie through their Amazing Spider-Man franchise, Warner Brothers looking to build to a Justice League movie through their Man of Steel franchise, or Fox looking to bring their two disparate X-Men franchises together with Days of Future Past, the message seems to be the same: team-up movies are the new go-to.

The truth is, crossing over different properties in order to create big team-up movies is nothing new though. Universal was doing it with their popular monster characters all the way back in the 40s with things like 1943's Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, 1944's House of Frankenstein, or even the 1948 comedy Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. These movies took classic characters like Dracula, the Wolf Man, and Frankenstein's monster, kept the original actors who made them famous where possible, and threw them all together into one adventure that kept the properties fresh in ways that more solo films couldn't. It was a good strategy then, and The Avengers shows that it's still a good strategy now, so it's looking like Universal is getting ready to go back to it.

We've that the studio has a script for a VAN HELSING remake that ROBERTO ORCI and ALEX KURTZMAN have been putting together, which has had Tom Cruise circling as a star and Rupert Sanders circling as a director, and that they've also hired Mama director ANDR S MUSCHIETTI to helm a MUMMY reboot, but now a new interview that Orci has done with [via ] hints at the fact that the studio could be looking to throw all of the characters from their old monster movies together into some sort of Avengers-esque monster mash as well.

When asked why the time was right to reboot the vampire hunting character of Van Helsing, Orci replied, "There's an interesting thing that could happen at Universal where they have this amazing library of their old monsters and these kinds of heroes, and the idea of trying to create a universe. Van Helsing, and we're also producing The Mummy for them. We're kind of imagining updating these kinds of things. You don't want to just make remakes when you're doing a thing, unless it's worthy of being a remake, but when you have an idea for something that can actually be made different and yet be true to what it was. We just had a notion of how to make it modern and have a slightly different tone. It's not going to be just a remake."

When then asked which monster he would be most excited to get his hands on once this shared universe gets off the ground, Orci replied, "I love Frankenstein, just cause it's such a twisted, complicated monster. A monster that's not really a monster." Combine Frankenstein with the Mummy and a Van Helsing movie that's sure to at least mention the infamous Count Dracula, and you've got a solid core of monsters right there. One would imagine that if they end up being successful, it wouldn't be too long after that an Invisible Man, a Wolf Man, and a Creature From the Black Lagoon would follow.

Say what you will about the monkey-see, monkey-do approach to filmmaking the big studios often engage in, where a strategy that works once somewhere is then attempted everywhere without any effort put forth to understand which parts of the strategy worked in the first place, you still have to admit that it's always fun to watch these old movie monsters get together in the same room and be weird together. There's something so timeless and familiar about these creatures that whether the movies they're in are any good or not, it's still comforting just to have them around. And perhaps if Universal's initial round of monster movie reboots aren't as successful as they're hoping, they can just fall back on their relationship with Edgar Wright to bring in Nick Frost and Simon Pegg to recreate a little bit of that Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein magic. You know what they say: if all else fails, make a spoof.
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