Nearly six months after Universal revealed their plans for the Dark Universe, a series of films that would revive the studio’s classic monster characters for a new generation of moviegoers, a new article from The Hollywood Reporter claims the future of the cinematic universe is in limbo as two of the franchise’s top producers have exited.
Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan, who helped Universal put the pieces together to get the Dark Universe off the ground, are no longer involved in the franchise and have since gone their separate ways, according to the report. Kurtzman is executive producing the CBS All Access series Star Trek: Discovery, while Morgan is scripting the much-talked-about Fast and Furious spinoff starring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham.
Meanwhile, Beauty and the Beast director Bill Condon’s Bride of Frankenstein, which was set to begin pre-production in London in early October, remains lifeless, and Angelina Jolie, who was expected to star as the film’s title character, is no longer attached.
“We’ve learned many lessons throughout the creative process on Dark Universe so far, and we are viewing these titles as filmmaker-driven vehicles, each with their own distinct vision,” Universal’s Peter Cramer said in a statement to THR. “We are not rushing to meet a release date and will move forward with these films when we feel they are the best versions of themselves.”
That being said, Universal is exploring other options, even considering the idea of “offering the IP to high-profile filmmakers or producers” with ideas “for one-off movies not connected to a larger universe,” which, in all honesty, could be the studio’s best bet at this stage of the game. They’ve already lost their two main producers/core creatives, so what could be worse than that?
Despite Universal’s claims that the Dark Universe just needs a little more time to get things back in order, it seems as though this is the end of the road for a franchise that, quite frankly, should have never been revealed in the first place.
The long-awaited ‘Space Jam’ sequel is finally moving forward with Ryan Coogler producing
The long-awaited Space Jam sequel is officially moving forward at Warner Bros. with Black Panther director Ryan Coogler signing on to produce the film, which is being directed by Random Acts of Flyness creator Terence Nance and will star LeBron James in his first ever starring role.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, production on the Space Jam sequel is expected to begin in 2019, during the NBA offseason, and will likely feature a number of basketball’s biggest stars and Warner Bros. Looney Toons characters given how many cameos were made in the 1996 original.
The plot of the original Space Jam, a live-action/CG hybrid, revolved around Michael Jordan helping the Looney Tunes gang with a basketball game against a group of outer space creatures who wish to kidnap the Looney Tunes and take them to a failing intergalactic amusement park as the latest attraction.
“I loved his vision” for Black Panther, James told THR about Coogler, describing how about there were no black superheroes growing up when he was a child. “So for Ryan to be able to bring that to kids, it’s amazing.”
Indeed, what Coogler did with Black Panther was quite astounding, setting a new standard for Hollywood and superhero movies after earning more than $1 billion at the worldwide box office with a film that features a predominantly black cast, directed by a black man.
“The Space Jam collaboration is so much more than just me and the Looney Tunes getting together and doing this movie,” says James, “It’s so much bigger. I’d just love for kids to understand how empowered they can feel and how empowered they can be if they don’t just give up on their dreams. And I think Ryan did that for a lot of people.”
— SpringHill Ent. (@SpringHillEnt) September 19, 2018
Focus sets September 2019 release date for ‘Downton Abbey’ movie as production begins
With production on the highly anticipated Downton Abbey movie officially underway, Focus Features announced Wednesday that the film is scheduled to be released in North America on Friday, September 20, 2019, and internationally on Friday, September 13, 2019, via Universal Pictures International.
The eagerly awaited Downton Abbey movie will star the original principal cast, including Hugh Bonneville, Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle, Michelle Dockery, Kevin Doyle, Joanne Froggatt, Matthew Goode, Harry Hadden-Paton, Robert James-Collier, Allen Leech, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern, Sophie McShera, Lesley Nicol, and Penelope Wilton.
The film will also feature some new additions to the cast as well including Imelda Staunton, Geraldine James, Simon Jones, David Haig, Tuppence Middleton, Kate Phillips, and Stephen Campbell Moore.
Downtown Abbey creator Julian Fellowes wrote the screenplay for the film, which is now being directed by Michael Engler rather than the previously announced Brian Percival, who has now shifted over to an executive producer role with Nigel Marchant.
“Since the series ended, fans of Downton have long been waiting for the Crawley family’s next chapter,” Focus chairman Peter Kujawski said. “We’re thrilled to join this incredible group of filmmakers, actors, and craftspeople, led by Julian Fellowes and Gareth Neame, in bringing back the world of Downton to the big screen next September.”
The show, which picked up a whopping 15 Primetime Emmy Awards and 69 total nominations over the span of its six-season run, followed the lives of the elite Crawley family and the servants who worked for them at the turn of the 20th century in an Edwardian English country home.
Listen to John Carpenter’s updated version of the iconic Michael Myers theme from ‘Halloween’
As if Halloween fans weren’t already excited enough after reading the rave reviews out of the Toronto International Film Festival and watching that terrifyingly good new trailer, Sacred Bones Records has released an entire track from the upcoming’s sequel soundtrack, and it’s bound to get you into the Halloween spirit.
Appropriately titled “The Shape Returns,” the track was composed by John Carpenter himself and is a riff on the iconic piano theme from his 1978 classic, featuring some killer synths and booming percussion that adds a nice twist to the chilling theme that every horror fan knows and loves. Carpenter composed the score along with his son, Cody, and Daniel Davies.
“It was transforming,” Carpenter said about composing the score for the sequel.“It was not a movie I directed, so I had a lot of freedom in creating the score and getting into the director’s head. I was proud to serve David Gordon Green’s vision.”
The new Halloween, a direct sequel to Carpenter’s original, will see Jamie Lee Curtis reprise her iconic role as Laurie Strode one last time as she comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.
The film also stars Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Virginia Gardner, and Nick Castle, and will open in theaters next month on October 19, the same day the soundtrack is set to be released. You can listen to “The Shape Returns” in its entirety below.