Every Upcoming Universal Monster Movie (& Which Were Canceled)


Following the success of 2020’s The Invisible Man, Universal Pictures is finally preparing to produce revivals of its classic monster movies. The studio’s roster of iconic creatures, including Dracula, the Frankenstein Monster and his Bride, the Wolfman, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon (among others), are among the most recognizable horror characters in pop culture history. Every resurrected monster movie has the potential to be a hit, so here are all the upcoming Dark Universe monster movies.

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In 2017, Universal launched its most ambitious attempt at reviving its monster franchise with the announced plans for the Dark Universe. This shared continuity was to have featured reboots of nearly every Universal monster and kicked off with The Mummy in 2017. Unfortunately, the film’s overwhelmingly negative reception forced Universal to reconsider those plans, and the entire cinematic universe was put on hold.

Related: Every Failed Attempt At The Dark Universe

In the years since The Mummy‘s failure, Universal found success by discarding the shared-universe formula for its Dark Universe movies, and by bringing in directors/writers with unique visions for the characters. So far, this approach has resulted in the critical and financial victory of Leigh Whannell’s The Invisible Man, which was co-produced by Blumhouse for a low budget. Universal has been confident enough to announce several more planned monster reboots, including a new version of The Wolfman and an Invisible Man spinoff. However, this change in direction has also left a slew of other announced films as either up in the air or outright canceled. Here’s a look at every Universal Monster movie in development and the Dark Universe movies that won’t be seeing the light of day anytime soon.


The Invisible Woman

Following the runaway monster movie success of The Invisible Man (2020), Universal quickly approached the film’s star, Elizabeth Moss (who played Cecilia “Cee” Kass), about appearing in a follow-up. Moss elected to tackle a new interpretation of The Invisible Woman, a comedic spinoff of the original The Invisible Man (1933) produced by Universal in 1940. The new sequel to the Invisible Man reboot will likely have little to do with the original. No release date has been announced. Moss gave a brief update in 2022 (via Comicbook.com) that shed some light on when fans can expect The Invisible Woman. “None of us involved have any intention of just cracking out another thing and throwing it up and just seeing what happens. We really want it to be as good, if not better, than the first one. Did I actually answer the question at all? It’s not in the rearview. How’s that?” Moss said of the Invisible Man sequel. While this sounds non-committal, a follow-up comment suggests there may be something more tangible that Moss isn’t at liberty to reveal. In the same interview, she added “Like I have Jason Blum on one shoulder and Universal on the other, and I’m just like, ‘Please don’t be mad at me.'”

Dracula (Chloe Zhao)

In addition to Kusama’s version for Blumhouse, Universal is also planning a radically different take on Dracula by the acclaimed Eternals director and writer Chloe Zhao. Zhao’s unusual and unique version of Dracula has been described as an “original, futuristic, sci-fi Western” that will tackle the concept of vampires as the “other” in society. As 2022’s Prey proved, there’s definitely a market for throwing sci-fi horror elements into historic settings. There’s been no new major news on Chloe Zhao’s Dracula since 2021, and as yet the movie doesn’t have a cast, release date, or plot details beyond the premise.

Renfield

The latest Universal Monster film to generate buzz is the in-development horror-comedy Renfield. Based on a pitch by Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead), directed by Chris McKay (The Tomorrow War), and recently confirmed to star Nicholas Hoult in the title role, this comedic Dracula spinoff will focus on the adventures of Dracula’s long-suffering servant (the titular Renfield). Renfield falls in love and decides to leave Dracula’s service, with no-doubt hilarious results. Awkwafina will play Rebecca Quincy, Renfield’s romantic interest, who is a traffic cop. To cap it off, Count Dracula is being played by none other than Nicolas “I’m a Vampire!” Cage himself. Renfield has been penciled in for an April 2023 release.

Related: Why Nicolas Cage’s Dracula Movie Will Avoid The Dark Universe’s Failure

Frankenstein

When it comes to iconic Universal creatures, none can compare with the legendary Frankenstein’s Monster. The animated corpse has been the subject of innumerable films for well over 100 years, but Universal’s latest plan for the monster involves roping in esteemed horror director James Wan. Famous nowadays for kickstarting the Conjuring franchise and directing Aquaman, Wan’s Frankenstein pitch involves a group of teenagers who discover the famous monster being constructed in the basement of their next-door neighbor. As with Universal’s other announced monster revivals, no release date has been set for this Frankenstein adaptation.

Bride of Frankenstein

There are several projects currently in development that are new takes on the iconic Bride of Frankenstein, including a film set to star Scarlett Johansson. However, Universal’s new version is entirely separate from Johansson’s project and has been in development for years. Originally planned as a Dark Universe film directed by Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters), David Koepp’s script has miraculously survived the death of the failed shared universe, and after multiple rewrites, it has been green-lit for production. There is no release date. Koepp has said in interviews that his approach was inspired by The Invisible Man, and called the current script a “twisted little number.” (via EW)

The Wolfman

Originally slated to appear as a Dark Universe film (and rumored to star Dwayne Johnson in the lead role), Universal’s latest attempt to reboot the Wolfman is moving forward at Blumhouse. While little is currently known about the project’s timeline, the biggest confirmed news is that it will star (and be based on a story pitch by) Ryan Gosling. Horror master Derek Cianfrance will direct the film, which will focus on a TV anchorman covering a series of grisly murders that he himself is committing when the moon is full. Gosling gave a brief update on The Wolfman in 2022, especially over his excitement to work with Cianfrance again on The Wolfman remake after 2010’s Blue Valentine. “I just would do anything with Derek, but the idea of doing something like that just seems really exciting.” Gosling said (via Collider), “It’s new for both of us, but in some way, I feel like it’s kind of the movie we’ve made already a few times, but in literal form. We’ve always kind of made the metaphorical version of it, and it’s sort of like the opportunity to really, to just make the literal version of what we’ve been hacking away at.”

Dark Army

One of the most epic in-development monster reboots is Dark Army, an ambitious crossover movie that will feature a large cast of iconic creatures from Universal’s pantheon. Writer/director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, the 2016 Ghostbusters) has called the story one of his all-time favorites, and despite budgetary concerns from the studio, Feig has promised to see the film through to completion. An update Feig gave in 2022 (via Collider) didn’t sound promising though. “That’s one that’s driving me crazy.” Feig said, “The problem with that is that some people read it and think it’s too expensive. I never saw it that way, but that’s what I hear. I’m still working on it and trying to get it to that sweet spot, but it’s hard.”

Related: The Mummy 1999 Was The Perfect Template For Universal’s Failed Dark Universe

Monster Mash

Universal’s plans for the classic monsters aren’t just limited to live-action horror films. The studio is also planning an animated musical film based on a pitch from music video director Matt Stawski. While little is currently known about the film, it will likely be loosely inspired by the classic song.

Little Monsters

Not to be confused with the cult classic Howie Mandel film of the same name, Little Monsters will be another animated take on the classic Universal monsters. Directed by Toy Story 4‘s Josh Cooley, the plot, prospective cast, and release date are unknown.

Canceled Universal Monster Movies

The cancelation of the Dark Universe saw a number of announced Universal Monster movies bite the proverbial dust. The Mummy was originally intended to be followed up with a Frankenstein movie starring Javier Bardem and an Invisible Man remake starring Johnny Depp. Also announced as part of the shared universe were new versions of Bride of Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolfman, Phantom of the Opera, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Van Helsing. All of the original plans for these movies were canceled when the plug was pulled on the Dark Universe.

There have been plenty of other recent casualties in Universal’s ongoing effort to reboot its monsters. Karyn Kusama’s Dracula movie, Mina Harker, was scrapped over differences between the studio and director. The long-rumored Dracula Untold 2 will likely never be produced, and the success of Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water effectively shelved any new versions of the iconic Gill-Man. On the subject of del Toro, one of the most ambitious of these lost monster films is undoubtedly the award-winning director’s epic version of Frankenstein. The film was to have been del Toro’s love letter to his favorite movie monster and would’ve starred Doug Jones in heavy makeup inspired by the Frankenstein illustrations of Bernie Wrightson. Like so many other planned Universal Monster films, it was shelved and will likely never be made.



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