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This story first appeared in the Oct. 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Dracula Untold scared up a surprisingly strong opening weekend at the global box office, but is it the launch of Universal’s revived monsters franchise? Depends on whom you ask.
In July, the studio announced plans for an Avengers-style universe based on its collection of iconic monsters, including Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Invisible Man, Bride of Frankenstein and The Mummy. Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek) and Chris Morgan (Fast & Furious) were hired to oversee the franchise, which would relaunch with The Mummy, directed by Kurtzman for release on June 24, 2016.
At the time of that announcement, Dracula Untold, shot mostly in fall 2013 and starring Luke Evans, was wrapping postproduction. However, pickup shots quietly were completed in late June, with a new ending that sources say was added to leave the possibility open for Evans’ Dracula to be included in the new universe. Untold‘s story is set in the mid-1400s in Transylvania, but the new ending features Dracula in a modern-day setting. And since Universal’s monsters universe will be set in present day, it’s very possible that Evans’ Dracula, who is immortal, could be a part of that family. In addition, actor Charles Dance, whose “master vampire” character was added in the reshoots, could appear in several monsters films, just as Samuel L. Jackson does in Marvel movies.
A Universal rep denies that Untold will kick off the monsters universe. And some insiders insist that the new scenes were added not for the sake of inserting Evans into the monster-verse but because first-time feature director Gary Shore delivered an ending that did not resolve the love story in a satisfying way.
See more ‘Grimm’: Behind the Monster Making
But in confirming the additional scenes at the U.K. premiere in early October, the film’s executive producer Alissa Phillips also revealed that Kurtzman and Morgan had been brought on to consult on the film. Most believe that Universal is leaving the door open to add Evans and Dance into the monsters universe but wanted to see how Untold fared at the box office before committing (or potentially recasting Dracula in a future film). Now that Untold debuted to $23.5 million domestically (second to Gone Girl) and a strong $63.3 million in two weeks overseas, Evans, 35, likely will return. But sources say Universal still is hoping to make a bigger splash when Mummy “officially” launches its monster mash.
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