Marvel Studios’ successes with its cinematic universe started a race of sorts for every studio to develop its own insular series of various movies that all take place in the same world. Warner Bros. had things easy with its stable of DC Comics characters, but others like Paramount and Universal had things tougher. The former decided to turn its lucrative Transformers series into a universe with the various spin-offs, and the latter decided to take its stable of monsters and turn that into an expansive film universe. But we’ve seen the results of that now, and some key players are starting to have second thoughts.
The most straightforward of these matters if Akiva Goldsman. The Oscar-winning screenwriter was the head of the writers room for Transformers and had a story credit on the recently released The Last Knight, so he had a not-so-insignificant role in helping to create this new Transformers world. But when asked by /Film if he was carrying on with the franchise at the Television Critics Association Press Tour, Goldsman gave them a very terse, “No.” Bumblebee, the next film in the series, has a solo writing credit for Christina Hodson.
Meanwhile, things look dark for the “Dark Universe” over at Universal. One of the people in charge of that franchise is Alex Kurtzman, and while he was at TCA to promote Star Trek: Discovery, the producer/director shared his doubts about his future with the Dark U. “You know the truth is, I don’t know. I really don’t know. I haven’t really decided is the honest answer,” he told IGN. “I have to stay interested in it. I have to feel like my passion is there for it. I think in the case of Star Trek if your passion isn’t there you shouldn’t be doing it.”
We haven’t heard much about the Dark Universe since the disappointing release of The Mummy earlier this summer. The film made $400 million worldwide, which is hardly chump change, but three-quarters of that gross comes from the overseas market; The Mummy has only made $80 million at the North American box office since its early June release. Transformers: The Last Knight has done a little bit better with $128 million so far in North American and approaching $600 million worldwide, which is about half of the lifetime global gross of Age of Extinction. So is this proof of franchise fatigue? Certainly these key creators seem fatigued. Stay tuned…