On May 8th, 2017, I stood up on my Horror News Network soapbox and declared that, “Universal Monsters Fans Deserve Their Very Own La La Land.” In my article, I recapped the various factors which made La La Land such a tremendous success, and dreamed of a world where the same level of respect and considerations were given to the classic Universal Monsters we all love so dearly:
“…the formula kind of makes sense, right? Find a young writer/director who is passionate about the history of film but has an eye for contemporary conventions, and- voila!- you have a movie that resonates with fans and critics alike!
…does a movie like The Mummy really need a budget of $125 million? To this day, horror movies are the king of turning a minuscule budget into a box office phenomenon. Why should the new wave of films featuring the original monsters be any different? Face it, the names alone are so recognizable that fans would hit the theaters if the film were a fraction of the budget. And a lower budget always equals more creative freedom.”
Well… I’m pleased to report that my dreams have come true! In a landmark move, Universal Studios announced today that their classic monsters will return to the silver screen in a series of new director-driven films, starting with a Leigh Whannell/Blumhouse collaboration on The Invisible Man.
Variety reports that Whannell (writer of the original Saw and Insidious movies and director of Insidious: Chapter 3 and Upgrade) will direct the film and Jason Blum of Blumhouse will produce. Variety stresses that the studio’s new game plan is to focus on, “bringing creative directors with distinctive visions to the classic characters and moving on from the interconnected Dark Universe concept… Upcoming titles for Universal’s new monster strategy will be rooted in horror, with no restrictions on budget, tone, or rating, and no expectation that they will exist as part of a shared universe.”
Peter Cramer, Universal’s president of production, had this to say about today’s announcement:
“Throughout cinematic history, Universal’s classic monsters have been reinvented through the prism of each new filmmaker who brought these characters to life. We are excited to take a more individualized approach for their return to screen, shepherded by creators who have stories they are passionate to tell with them.”
While the budget of The Insisible Man has not been announced and there’s no mention of small budgets going forward, the folks at Blumhouse have made a name for themselves by producing extremely successful movies with very modest budgets. Even smash hits like Get Out, Halloween (2018), and Split were all made with less than ten million dollars ($4.5 million, $10 million, and $9 million, respectively). With the kinds of profit margins they’ve earned with this formula, it’s unlikely they’re going to change their strategy at this point in time. One thing’s for certain, the budget for The Invisible Man will be a mere fraction of The Mummy (2017)‘s outrageous $125 million budget! And that’s a good thing, because we all know that there’s a direct correlation between budget size and creative freedom.
Today’s announcement doesn’t name any other new Universal Monsters films (which are obviously on the way) and it doesn’t specify whether they will all be released under the Blumhouse banner (which seems like a safe bet given their frequent collaborations with Universal and their proven track record for success). Stay tuned to Horror News Network for complete coverage of this new world of gods and monsters as soon as it unfolds!