Universal Studios is a little late getting on-board the shared Universe train (which is ironic since they actually created the first shared Universe in 1943 when Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man came out) and they’re trying to stack the deck with big stars to help their shared monster-verse have the same success that Disney is having with Marvel films. So far, they’ve nailed down Tom Cruise for a Mummy remake (due out June 2017) and Johnny Depp for a new Invisible Man film (due April 2018). Russell Crowe is appearing as Dr. Jekyll in The Mummy which will probably lead to a Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde movie. Also, rumor has it Angelina Jolie might be willing to play the Bride of Frankenstein. Now the Rock is in negotiations to possibly star in a revamp of The Wolf Man.
Those are a lot of big names. The Rock, in particular, is currently the most bankable star in Hollywood. He’s usually the guy you add to a struggling franchise to make it marketable again. In this case, his contract will require him to appear in multiple films in their Monster-verse. This makes sense. Universal will probably want an A-List ‘anchor’ to be the foundation of their Monster-verse, the way Robert Downey has been for Marvel; Hugh Jackman has been for Fox’s X-Franchise; and (it seems) the way the WB is building Ben Affleck to be the centerpiece of their DCEU. The Rock seems like a good choice.
But is he really? Not so fast!
The Rock is an action star, and for the most part, so is Tom Cruise these days. This brings to mind a 2014 interview with Universal Pictures head honcho Donna Langley when she told the Hollywood Reporter, “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.”
The question becomes; is that still the plan, and is it a good idea? Dracula Untold (2014) which began the new shared Monster-verse, was an action film but it only made $153 million worldwide. Other monster films like Van Helsing and I Frankenstein have similarly tried to take the action route and been disappointments.
Will remaking The Creature From the Black Lagoon as an action film be successful? Is it a good idea to have action stars headlining action-oriented monster movies, or should Universal stick to what has traditionally worked for these horror characters—horror films!
The Rock is a very popular movie star. I’ve been a fan of his since his wrestling days. His presence in a film, either as the star or in a cross-over/cameo role, will help at the box office. Then again, it probably seemed like a good idea to cast popular Hugh Jackman as Van Helsing. How did that work out, Universal? Sure, it will generate a lot of interest to see the Rock, Cruise, Depp, Crowe and whoever else is cast appear together in the eventual crossover/team-up film, but is turning the great Universal Pantheon of monsters into the Avengers the best path to take?
Is this good casting in a horror film, or is this a horrible decision?