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November 14, 2014 11:20 AM   Subscribe

We knew Universal Studios was rebooting the classic monster movies into a new cinematic universe. So who's writing them? The "Monster Men," a collective of writers inspired by both the Pixar "brain trust" and the traditional tv writer's room. Among the writers on board: screenwriter/director Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek, Fringe); longtime Fast & Furious writer Chris Morgan; the creator and writer of the Fargo tv series, Noah Hawley; Prisoners screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski; and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Men In Black screenwriter Ed Solomon.

Shortly before its release, the critically unloved but financially successful Dracula Untold--an initially unrelated Universal film--was hastily retrofitted with a new coda (spoilers, obviously as that is literally a clip of the ending) that makes it sorta kinda the first entry in this series. The series' first proper installment is scheduled to be 2016's The Mummy, which may or may not begin with Navy SEALs in Iraq stumbling upon a sarcophagus. The Wolf Man is expected to hit theaters in 2017. The Dark Knight scribe David S. Goyer has been working on an update of The Invisible Man for Universal for some years now.

Previously on MeFi, some thoughts on "the cinematic universe" as a trend.
posted by DirtyOldTown (76 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
This fully understands the success it attempts to imitate and will therefore end well.
posted by Artw at 11:27 AM on November 14, 2014 [18 favorites]


I am all kinds of skeptical about Universal's plans. To begin with, they don't actually own the rights to most of these characters. They're public domain. So not only can other studios make their own Frankenstein or Dracula films, they are already doing that.

This said, the idea of transferring the concept of a tv writer's room to a cinematic universe is a very good one and might be the one encouraging thing I've heard about this project so far. To get the kind of consistency Marvel has, you can either find your own Kevin Feige to produce them all, or maybe, as Universal hopes, you can treat the entire enterprise as a giant tv show.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:31 AM on November 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


The guy who has written the good parts of the Fast and Furious franchise (Tokyo Drift onwards) is doing classic monster movies? I will buy tickets to three movies based on this fact alone.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:32 AM on November 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


By the way, anyone who's actually watched the original Universal Monsters films knows they were by no means a "shared cinematic universe." Characters sometimes appeared in each other's films, yes, but they weren't even all taking place in the same era, and you had to kind of ignore things like that.

Plus: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. If that isn't a big giant FUCK IT WHO CARES ABOUT CONTINUITY BETWEEN FILMS? I don't know what is.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:37 AM on November 14, 2014 [8 favorites]


A crossover between The Bride of Frankenstein and Dracula's Daughter would be the most slashtastic thing ever.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 11:41 AM on November 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


Also Universal didn't have Chris Lee, who is best at Draculaing.
posted by Artw at 11:43 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Thank goodness they're all men. A woman could never understand how to create a monster myth, like, say, Frankenstein.
posted by gladly at 11:44 AM on November 14, 2014 [70 favorites]


Movie Fighters Vs Dracula Untold
posted by Artw at 11:45 AM on November 14, 2014


Angela Bettis as Bride of Frankenstein or GTFO.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:47 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


On the plus side the question "what would people think of LXG if they didn't have a really great comic to compare it to?" may soon be answered.
posted by Artw at 11:47 AM on November 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Thank goodness they're all men. A woman could never understand how to create a monster myth, like, say, Frankenstein.

From Twitter:
"I wish fake geek girls like Mary Shelley would stop trying to jump onto the scifi bandwagon. #ReaderGate" (source)
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:54 AM on November 14, 2014 [13 favorites]


DirtyOldTown: Plus: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. If that isn't a big giant FUCK IT WHO CARES ABOUT CONTINUITY BETWEEN FILMS? I don't know what is.
DON'T GET ME STARTED! 32 separate violations of the Uniform Monster Fright Code by Bud Abbott alone - and he was the freaking straight man!

Makes a fella regret he gave up huffing garlic.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:56 AM on November 14, 2014


The difference between what Marvel is doing and what Universal is doing is that Marvel has decades and thousands and thousands and thousands of pages of story they can draw from. Universal has some "ip" and a bunch of hack screenwriters.
posted by empath at 11:56 AM on November 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


If anyone is tempted to declare this the stupidest possible idea for a cinematic universe, I would only remind you that not only is there a Robin Hood and His Merry Men universe in development, but this week word got out that Sony is considering an Aunt May standalone film.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:00 PM on November 14, 2014


empath: a bunch of hack screenwriters.
Looks at list of screenwriters; makes face like Inigo Montoya; questions empath's thoughts on a word's meaning,
posted by IAmBroom at 12:03 PM on November 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


You would have thought that Deadline et al would know that the monster itself isn't called Frankenstein, but hey ho.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 12:06 PM on November 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Those writers have credits that can give you hope and credits that can give you pause. But I doubt I personally would call them hacks. Fargo was good. Fringe was good. Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure was good.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:09 PM on November 14, 2014


It would be nice if someone somewhere would actually make a faithful adaptation of Shelly's Frankenstein. Branagh's version came closest but even he larded the story up with all kinds of extra unneeded character motivation crap about the good doctor's mother and little brother and such.
posted by octothorpe at 12:13 PM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sony is considering an Aunt May standalone film.

Oh god! Oh god! PLEASE let it be the story where Aunt May becomes the Herald of Galactus! Please, I'm begging you! The one where she saves the universe by finding a cosmic baker (a sort of pale... doughy, strangely familiar alien chef) who makes planet-sized snack cakes tasty enough to sate even the insatiable hunger of Galactus.

Dear God, Sony, make it this one and we'll call it even for all the crappy contractually obligated Spider-Man movies of the last several years.
posted by Naberius at 12:20 PM on November 14, 2014 [14 favorites]


empath: a bunch of hack screenwriters.
Looks at list of screenwriters; makes face like Inigo Montoya; questions empath's thoughts on a word's meaning


Well, Kurtzman is definitely a hack. Gods, the shit he and Orci have come up with should have them confined to writing cartoons for ABC Family. Or have you forgotten the atrocity that was Star Trek: Into Darkness?
posted by Ber at 12:27 PM on November 14, 2014


I'm hoping that the final set of movies will involve the Frankenstein Monster, Dracula Werewolf and Mummy getting together to fight crime.
posted by happyroach at 12:27 PM on November 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Well, Kurtzman is definitely a hack. Gods, the shit he and Orci have come up with should have them confined to writing cartoons for ABC Family. Or have you forgotten the atrocity that was Star Trek: Into Darkness?

He also created Fringe. Your argument is invalid.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:30 PM on November 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


It's a bummer that Kurtzman is on board. I wonder how he'll shoehorn his 9/11 truther bullshit into this.

I'm fine with Morgan, though.
posted by brundlefly at 12:30 PM on November 14, 2014


If the answer to this question isn't Ben Edlund, it's wrong.
posted by fshgrl at 12:31 PM on November 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


He also created Fringe. Your argument is invalid.

Bit of a mixed bag, that.
posted by Artw at 12:37 PM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Fringe is okay at times, but it hardly makes up for Transformers, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Cowboys & Aliens, Star Trek Into Darkness and The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
posted by brundlefly at 12:45 PM on November 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


Frankenstein is a Frankenstein created by the true monster, Doctor Frankenstein.
posted by Artw at 12:46 PM on November 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


Fringe is okay at times, but it hardly makes up for Transformers, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Cowboys & Aliens, Star Trek Into Darkness and The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

Are you going to have all of those movies playing simultaneously while you watch The Mummy? If so, I see your point. If not, the career ledger approach probably doesn't factor in.

In any case, I'm certainly not arguing the guy deserves trust, only that his resume has good as well as bad. And anyway, the point of TFA is that no individual writer or even pair of writers will be solely writing any of the Universal monster reboots. They're going to break the stories as a group, like a tv series' writers' room. I'm not sure how that will work out, in terms of quality, but it's an interesting idea. We'll have to see, I guess.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:51 PM on November 14, 2014


Are you going to have all of those movies playing simultaneously while you watch The Mummy? If so, I see your point. If not, the career ledger approach probably doesn't factor in.

So I shouldn't look at the guy's track record of shitty movies when deciding if I want to see another movie by him?

I get the point of the writers' room model and it's quite interesting. However, Kurtzman is probably the most popularly successful writer in that room (Perhaps giving him more sway?) while having some of the worst qualities. Again, the whole thing is interesting but Kurtzman's involvement gives me pause.
posted by brundlefly at 1:08 PM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Frankenstein is a Frankenstein created by the true monster, Doctor Frankenstein.

Frankenstein is the only two-time winner of the Transcontinental Road Race. Frankenstein the Legend! Frankenstein the Indestructible! Frankenstein! Ripped up, wiped out, battered, shattered, creamed, and reamed! Frankenstein! Who lost a leg in '98! An arm in '99! With half a face and half a chest and all the guts in the world!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:08 PM on November 14, 2014 [11 favorites]


Or, in other words, I would TOTALLY go see them if they featured the monsters driving around running over people for fun and profit. Also they can include Toho monsters because why not.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:09 PM on November 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


HEY HOLLYWOOD

TRY TELLING A NEW STORY FOR FUCK'S SAKE

ahem
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:09 PM on November 14, 2014 [8 favorites]


So help me, if the brain trust's plan for re-booting the perfection that is Frankenstein means hyper-violence, blood, gore, and an annoying, ear-splitting soundtrack...There. Will. Be. War.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:19 PM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Any word yet on who they're getting to replace Abbot and Costello?
posted by ckape at 1:22 PM on November 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm hoping that the final set of movies will involve the Frankenstein Monster, Dracula Werewolf and Mummy getting together to fight crime.

Less "crime" and more "Cthulhu," from what I understand.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:27 PM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Let me know when The Giant Gila Monster comes back around.

Note: I will settle for The Brain That Wouldn't Die.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 1:55 PM on November 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


The Killer Klowns From Outer Space Cinematic Universe.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:04 PM on November 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


On the plus side the question "what would people think of LXG if they didn't have a really great comic to compare it to?" may soon be answered.

YOu mean the TV show Penny Dreadful? I was surprised how good it was with getting the tone of each particular character somewhat faithful to the source material - Frankenstein is all speeches and grand passions, Dorian Grey is all languors and description, Dracula takes place partly in letter-writing and he's fucking creepy. Vanessa is every single spiritualist/ancient evil potboiler heroine EVER. They even manage to slip in some Phantom Of The Opera.
posted by The Whelk at 2:05 PM on November 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Hell, I would argue that Eva Green took potboiler heroine perilously close to Emmy award territory.
posted by Ber at 2:07 PM on November 14, 2014


SHe really is unmistakably the best part of the show if only cause she's so damn good at looking deranged/possessed/terrifying.
posted by The Whelk at 2:09 PM on November 14, 2014


I'm hoping that the final set of movies will involve the Frankenstein Monster, Dracula Werewolf and Mummy getting together to fight crime beat up Nazis.
posted by Sauce Trough at 2:10 PM on November 14, 2014


Also known as getting paid to write slash fiction.
posted by Fupped Duck at 2:35 PM on November 14, 2014


Frankenstein
posted by philip-random at 3:12 PM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Please, it's only slash fic if like Frankenstein and Dracula get it on.
posted by The Whelk at 3:14 PM on November 14, 2014


The Whelk: "Please, it's only slash fic if like Frankenstein and Dracula get it on."

Or if it includes Jack the Ripper.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:28 PM on November 14, 2014


You would have thought that Deadline et al would know that the monster itself isn't called Frankenstein, but hey ho.

The original film borrows heavily from a stage version, in which Frankenstein gives the monster his name.

So I take your nerdy pedantry and top it with some super-nerdy super-pedantry.
posted by maxsparber at 3:28 PM on November 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


I thought Hollywood was already trying a Classic Monsters Are Superheros series starting with Aaron Eckhart's Yo, Frankenstein.
posted by straight at 3:42 PM on November 14, 2014


Marvel should counter by bringing in Racist Moon Dracula from the Captain Britain comics.
posted by Artw at 4:08 PM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I thought Hollywood was already trying a Classic Monsters Are Superheros series starting with Aaron Eckhart's Yo, Frankenstein.

No way it beats the Dell Comics version!
posted by jason_steakums at 4:20 PM on November 14, 2014


"Please, it's only slash fic if like Frankenstein and Dracula get it on."

Or if it includes Jack the Ripper.


actually wait both these things have happened on Penny Dreadful nevermind
posted by The Whelk at 4:28 PM on November 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


The Mummy remake with Brendan Frasier was amazingly fun... but Jackson's King Kong took a genuinely scary monster, on a tangible and thematic level, and turned it into a misunderstood superhero movie... that was also two hours too long.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:34 PM on November 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


We don't have any capes [in our film library]. But what we do have is an incredible legacy and history with the monster characters. We've tried over the years to make monster movies — unsuccessfully, actually. So, we took a good, hard look at it, and we settled upon an idea, which is to take it out of the horror genre, put it more in the action-adventure genre and make it present day, bringing these incredibly rich and complex characters into present day and reimagine them and reintroduce them to a contemporary audience.
- Donna Langley, Universal Pictures chairman

I'm sure this will end well.
posted by brundlefly at 4:43 PM on November 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Has anyone told them about Blade?
posted by Artw at 5:29 PM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Some studio execs are always trying to ice-skate uphill...
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:31 PM on November 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


The Mummy remake with Brendan Frasier was amazingly fun...

Universal really had something there, and completely dropped the ball. It shouldn't have become more Mummy movies, but gone on to be basically Indiana Jones vs. other classic Universal monsters - the problem was never Fraser with the sequels, he was really likable and played a character that could have been dropped into any situation (and the same goes for Weisz, Hannah and Fehr), but they kept trying to rehash the first movie.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:23 PM on November 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


Christopher Lee is available.
posted by clavdivs at 6:26 PM on November 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


If anyone is tempted to declare this the stupidest possible idea for a cinematic universe, I would only remind you that not only is there a Robin Hood and His Merry Men universe in development

Are you kidding? This is like the best of all possible ideas. Robin Hood rules!
posted by Greg Nog at 6:29 PM on November 14, 2014


I want a 50's b-movie cinematic universe. The 50 Foot Woman, Teenage Frankenstein, Gort and Devil Girl from Mars vs. THEM!

(okay actually I just want Marvel to do Agents of Atlas)
posted by jason_steakums at 6:39 PM on November 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Is Ridley Scott threatening Bladerunner/Aliens still? He could have them time travel to roman times.
posted by Artw at 6:48 PM on November 14, 2014


Alien vs. Praetura looks pretty awesome in my head.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 8:02 PM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


They should get Costner to do Robin Hood again. Bet he'd nail a British-like accent for at least half the film this time around.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:04 PM on November 14, 2014


Back in the 70's I was a tour guide at Universal. The horror films from the 30's and 40's were very much a part of the tour. Going through the town sets we would point out the street where the mobs waving pitchforks and torches gathered to attack the castle Frankenstein. Part of the walk-thru tour involved a horror set on a sound stage. There was an optical mirror illusion that gave the impression of a lengthy hallway. I discussed how on b&w panachrome the color red would appear a pale gray, so the blood used in horror films of the era was actually Hersey's Chocolate Syrup. The standing joke was that the only drawback was the actors kept licking their wounds. I would pump an oil-based fog machine to lay a dense, clinging fog and then step into a rotating niche and disappear. After a few not-so tense moments I would arise from a coffin with my arms crossed over my chest. Hokey but apparently somewhat entertaining...
posted by jim in austin at 8:12 PM on November 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


Christopher Lee is available THE BEST.

FTFY.

(Please, Hollywood. For the love of whatever you hold sacred, please put Lee in ALL THE THINGS from now until he can't anymore because if nothing else, that voice.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:13 PM on November 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Any word yet on who they're getting to replace Abbot and Costello?

Well, Apatow's deal is with Universal so it'd probably be someone from his camp. Like Seth Rogen and Russell Brand or something.
posted by dogwalker at 8:26 PM on November 14, 2014


Christopher Lee put out a death-metal album based on Charlemagne when he was 89. So, yeah, it's not so bad you missed this year's NaNoWriMo, you have time. Next year, tho, if you miss that one, he will mock you.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:28 PM on November 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Needs more Doc Savage.
posted by clavdivs at 10:39 PM on November 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


No, Watt's replacing Abbott, Who's replacing Costello.
posted by Segundus at 12:04 AM on November 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Needs more Doc Savage.

I keep waiting to hear news of Shane Black's latest efforts, even if I'm as wary about a new Doc Savage film as I am this latest crop of monster reboots. Though a Doc Savage vs. Frankenstein/Frankenstein's Monster would be pretty great: good super science vs. evil super science.
posted by audi alteram partem at 7:24 AM on November 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Issue 2 of Morrison's Multiversity had some superb and very Doc Savagey pulp hero action. I wish they'd just make that universe the main DC universe.
posted by Artw at 7:44 AM on November 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Though a Doc Savage vs. Frankenstein/Frankenstein's Monster would be pretty great: good super science vs. evil super science.

Why not both? Doc Frankenstein is coming back!
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:16 PM on November 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Someone just make Monster Squad 2 and kill this "franchise", will you?
posted by Mezentian at 11:11 PM on November 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


If these end up getting really popular then I want DreamWorks Animation to cash in and make a sequel to Mad Monster Party?.
posted by Small Dollar at 12:12 AM on November 16, 2014 [1 favorite]




A little misleading. He likes shared-universe movies, but believes their mapping should grow organically rather than be set in stone before the first movie hits theaters - he's concerned that a franchise needs a solid success to build off of, and the first film should be treated as the only film to set the tone and establish an audience. I can certainly see his concern. LoTR may lead some studios to believe a series success can be planned and managed, but the hot mess that the Hobbit films have become should give pause.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:50 AM on November 24, 2014


Why are you against Dwarve/Elf love?
posted by P.o.B. at 8:55 AM on November 24, 2014


Gunn is right, but it's low hanging fruit and it would probably take one stinker before they immediately went over to the drawing board and started making changes. Although, I would disagree there are not pre-built audiences for the Marvel movies.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:07 AM on November 24, 2014


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