Oh dear. While the official word is that Universal's shared Dark Universe is still happening, the shared cinematic realm of monsters has now had another setback.
As per The Hollywood Reporter, the creative minds behind the whole shared universe - Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan - have departed the project. This comes hot on the heels of Universal now not having any further films booked in for solid release dates. If you remember back, of course, only last month saw pre-production indefinitely halted on Bill Condon's Bride of Frankenstein while the script for that movie is given a bit of a reworking. Similarly, Bride's February 2019 release date was scrapped.
For the Dark Universe, the plan was to use Kurtzman's Sofia Boutella and Tom Cruise-headlined The Mummy to launch a shared universe of monster movies that would see Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, Johnny Depp as the Invisible Man, Javier Bardem as Frankenstein's famed monster and rumours of Dwayne Johnson as the Wolfman, Scarlett Johansson as the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Angelina Jolie as the aforementioned Bride of Frankenstein - all in addition to plans to dish out further films focussing on Dracula, the Phantom of the Opera, and the Hunchback of Notre Dame. The point being, Universal had high hopes for this shared realm and had some huge names signed up or in mind.
Unfortunately for the studio, The Mummy completely bombed at the ever-important North American box office, bringing in just $80 million in that market on its way to a global box office return of just over $400 million. To put that in to perspective, including advertising, The Mummy cost Universal just shy of $350 million.
However this plays out, Universal still always have the option of producing individual standalone pictures for some of these famed characters, with it being possible to do such films without them all having to be linked together. Then again, the studio may have someone else in mind to replace Kurtzman and Morgan in overseeing the creative side of the greater Dark Universe.
As ever, expect more on all of this as and when it continues to develop.