The Rock, aka Dwayne Johnson, is one of the most adored and acclaimed Hollywood stars. The actor has a huge fan base and has given many standout performances. Notably, despite landing significant roles in the Fast and Furious and Jumanji film franchises, Johnson didn’t land all the parts he sought, one of which was The Wolfman in Tom Cruise’s ‘Dark Universe’.
So what went wrong?
Well, in the 1930s and 1940s, movies starring characters like ‘Dracula’ and ‘The Wolfman’ had a sizable audience advantage over those starring ‘Captain America’ and ‘Iron Man’. Since then, every attempt to revive these characters has been made in several solo films.
And thus, Dark Universe was also supporting this effort to create the next big-name blockbuster talent. The concept was given a new life by the notion that would bring together the various monsters, giving The Wolfman a higher priority.
Although The Wolfman never had a release date set and had no director attached, Dwyane Johnson was allegedly the studio’s top choice at the time. The 51-year-old actor previously portrayed the Scorpion King in The Mummy Returns and its spin-off, The Scorpion King.
Dwayne Johnson’s The Mummy Dashed the Dark Universe’s Hopes
Just a few days before The Mummy was released, it became clearer what the Dark Universe might entail. It was confirmed after it was revealed that Dwayne Johnson was the only actor that Tom Cruise‘s Dark Universe wanted to cast for The Wolfman.
The Mummy faced high expectations because there were so many projects in the works. Unfortunately, despite expectations that it would surpass Iron Man in the status of monster movies, this new entry in the Dark Universe ended up falling far short.
Only a few days into the movie’s run in theaters, analysts started predicting that the movie would end up costing Universal almost $100 million in losses due to its utterly appalling reviews.
Now that the entire Dark Universe is in the rearview mirror, it is simple to understand why this potential franchise has fizzled out.
It’s also interesting to note that It had a record-breaking year at the box office for an R-rated horror film the same year The Mummy was bombed. The Mummy failed financially by attempting to copy previous successful movies, but it did connect with viewers by embracing its distinctive horror vibes.
What’s Going On In The Dark Universe Now?
Even though the Dark Universe eventually withered and died, Universal never completely gave up on the idea of combining different monster movies into one enormous continuity. The 2023 motion picture, Renfield did not have any references to The Invisible Man or The Mummy but did explicitly tie its plot to the original 1930s Bela Lugosi Dracula movies.
It’s not surprising that this type of connecting thread failed to arouse as much interest as, say, Han Solo’s reappearance in The Force Awakens, mainly due to how frequently Dracula films have become part of popular culture.
Nevertheless, the basic attempt to weave Renfield into one of the more established Universal Monsters films shows that universe strategy still exists in some form in the post-The Mummy Universal Monsters projects.
However, it is also safe to say that Dark Universe is dead and will not be revived in the wake of so many other cinematic universes failing miserably. Though it doesn’t yet appear to be a done deal. The idea of combining various Universal Monsters films (like the Dracula or The Wolfman films) still seems viable.