Dark Universe is the latest failed expanded film universe
It seems Universal was a bit too cocky promising a Dark Universe expanded film universe, even before the first film – the Tom Cruise led The Mummy – had been released. A writer’s room had been put together, and classic monsters were promised to return on the screen with famous actors attached to portray them. Johnny Depp was going to play the Invisible Man, Javier Bardem Frankenstein’s Monster, and Crowe already cameo’d in The Mummy as Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. Then that movie came out, sucked, and bombed at the box office.
Now the team that was assembled to develop this franchise has begun leaving the sinking ship. This whole shared/expanded universe thing is of course a result from the success Marvel has seen by creating a film universe in which characters such as Iron Man and Captain America occupy the same space and can appear in each other’s movies.
Disney has begun using this template for its Star Wars property, creating spin-off movies with characters from the original trilogy. Other studios have not been as successful. Here are some of them:
King Arthur (Status: Dead)
Although producers eased down on their statements. they did hope for King Arthur – starring Charlie Hunnam – to start a new shared universe. This would’ve meant separate movies for at least Lancelot and Merlin. In a world filled with Batmen and Skywalkers, we’re not sure which type of nerd was targeted with this franchise. Since King Arthur bombed, we will never know the answer.
Transformers (Status: TBD)
Although the franchise is still making money, it seems its best days are behind it with the last one (Transformers vs. Nazis) disappointing at the box office. The team at Paramount Pictures must be stressing right now, since they’re about to kick off their expanded universe next year with a Bumblee spin-off.
The DC Movie Universe (Status: No clue what the plan is)
So far even the bad DC movies (such as Batman v. Superman, Suicide Squad) have made money, yet we have no idea what’s happening with this shared universe. Wonder Woman did well, and Justice League is supposed to be “ok” , yet DC and Warner Bros are still struggling and might even want to blow up this universe with news coming out of a disconnected Joker origin story, and the studios rethinking its shared universe strategy..
The Spider-Man Universe (Status: TBD)
Sony had been hoping to launch a Spider-Man universe out of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, focused on the hero’s rogue gallery. When that movie failed, so did its plans for The Sinister Six. Now that Marvel has helped to relaunch Spider-Man, Sony is once again pursuing movies starring villains, with movies such as Venom and Morbius being in the works.
As you can tell, it seems like only Disney has this expanded/shared universe thing under control at the moment. Did we miss any failed universes? Let us know in the comments!