As it stands, we have Marvel and Disney making lucrative business with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Fox have the lucrative X-men to branch out on (recently announced Deadpool movie) and Sony have Spiderman (however, things aren’t looking too hot business wise with that franchise as Venom has been cancelled). So it’s only natural that Universal were planning on expanding their Monster Movie Universe. But here’s the kicker, the past couple of movies have performed rather poorly at the box office. The original monster movies’ are what Universal studios were built on. With the success of movies such as Frankenstein, The Invisiable Man, Dracula and The Mummy that originated from the 1930s, helping Universal become the mammoth studio it is today. However, it seems like Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley has conceded defeat.
Langley got together with other major executives to take part in a roundtable discussion arranged by The Hollywood Reporter. It was during these discussions that Langley spoke about the lack of public interest in their major monster movies and also revealed their new strategy to pull punters into the theatres: they are taking the movies in another direction, omitting the horror aspect and dumping them into the action-adventure genre. This was following Langley’s revelation that they just can’t compete with the comic book genre at the Box Office. Here is what the Universal Chairman had to say on the issue:
“We don’t have any capes [in our film library]. But what we do have is an incredible legacy and history with the monster characters. We’ve tried over the years to make monster movies — unsuccessfully, actually. So, we took a good, hard look at it, and we settled upon an idea, which is to take it out of the horror genre, put it more in the action-adventure genre and make it present day, bringing these incredibly rich and complex characters into present day and re-imagine them and reintroduce them to a contemporary audience.”
It seems John Cusack was right when he said:
“If you wanna make the money and be in the blockbuster movies, then you gotta wear the tights. I ain’t wearing the tights.”
This was in response to why he has been doing so many small independent films as of late. It seems Langley and co want to stick tights and capes onto their monsters to try and pull the wool over the eyes of the general public. There is no doubt that their monster movies have been underachieving at the Box Office, and this harks back to the disappointment of The Wolfman starring Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins. It is worth noting that the failure of The Wolfman could – also – have been down to the reshoots, the problems on set, and the eventual inflated budget. As it comes as no surprise that when people start hearing about problems on set, and reshoots they begin to lose confidence as these issues end up all over the Internet (there are a few exceptions, like Brad Pitts World War Z).
More recently though, Dracula Untold starring Luke Evans was suppose to be the first movie in their Monster Cinematic Universe and it opened at number 2 at the Box Office and has hitherto, made a disappointing culminative total of $55. It seems to have found more of an audience elsewhere however, bringing its total so far, to a not-to-shabby $153 million worldwide, but comparing that to Iron Man’s $500 million and you can start to see the concerns Universal are having.
Ditching the horror element? Hmmm, this all sounds a bit desperate and sceptical, as it has been proven that it hasn’t worked in the past. Also, one wonders, …how the hell can you take the horror aspect out of Monster movies? Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose? Let’s take a look at a couple of previous disasters that were less horror in tone, like the recent I, Frankenstein – which got a critical mauling – and also Stephen Sommer’s godawful Van Helsing. Both of these movies underperformed at the Box Office, suffered from bad reviews and even worse word of mouth.
Maybe, …just maybe, part of the problem lies in the quality of the movies. Make a good movie, generate good buzz, and people will come. That’s certainly the way it should work in theory. Dracula Untold lagged behind other horror movie Annabelle at the Box Office, so if you put that into perspective, people have a insatiable need for blood and gore at the movies. Also, taking these stylistic characters and bringing them into a contemporary setting is just ludicrous. Just look at how stylistic Penny Dreadful is with its rich settings and beautiful cinematography, and that has been a sure fire hit for HBO with audiences worldwide. It all boils down to the ingredients in the cauldron, …if Universal get the right, then surely magic can happen.
Following Dracula Untold, Universal Pictures will be releasing The Mummy on June 24, 2016 and there are plans for a new Wolfman film. We need to wait and see how all this plays out.
Via – CinemaBlend