Universal boss explains why their ‘Dark Universe’ franchise “failed”

The cinematic universe had barely got off the ground when the poor performance of 'The Mummy' in 2017 appeared to sink the venture for good

Universal boss Donna Langley has spoken in a new interview about the failure of the studio’s ambitious ‘Dark Universe’ franchise.

The studio’s attempt at establishing a cinematic universe based on its classic ‘Universal Monsters’ film series kicked off in 2014 with the release of Dracula Untold.

However, the second ‘Dark Universe’ release, the Tom Cruise-starring reboot of The Mummy in 2017, was critically panned upon release and posted a disappointing return at the box office.


Production on a subsequent ‘Dark Universe’ film, The Bride of Frankenstein, was put on hold following the poor performance of The Mummy. Universal has since pressed on with producing stand-alone movies rather than incorporating them into their ‘Dark Universe’ franchise.

Speaking in a round table session with The Hollywood Reporter (which you can see in full above), Donna Langley, the chairman of the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, acknowledged that the ‘Dark Universe’ was “a failed attempt” at “interlocking” the film studio’s characters.

“We had an attempt at interlocking our monsters and it was a failed attempt,” she said. “What we realised is that these characters are indelible for a reason, but there’s no urgency behind them and certainly the world was not asking for a shared universe of classic monsters.

“But we have gone back and created an approach that’s filmmaker-first, any budget range.”


In the same round table discussion, executives from Sony and Disney addressed the future of the Spider-Man movies following last year’s spectacular U-turn over its place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.