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Dark Universe Will Include Low-Budget Monster Movies from Blumhouse

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Next week is a big one for Universal Pictures, as they launch their Dark Universe franchise with The Mummy. The movie stars Hollywood A-listers such as Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe, along with rising stars like Sofia Boutella and Annabelle Wallis, and with stars of this magnitude, the budget is quite large. A new report claims that the budget was $125 million, which comes after a “considerable U.K. rebate,” while Tom Cruise is said to earn upwards of $13 million up front, with “sizable back end participation.” While the other movies that are being developed in this franchise will likely be big-budget affairs as well, this report also claims that there may be room for some small-budget movies.

The Hollywood Reporter reveals that micro-budget producer Jason Blum has “expressed interest” in shepherding a low-budget entry into this monster universe. This report also claims that Universal has a few advantages over other “shared universes,” such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), one of which is Universal already has all of these monster characters in their library, and they didn’t have to plunk down big bucks to secure the IP, like the $8 billion combined that Disney paid for both Marvel and LucasFilm.

This report also claims that the budgets for each of these movies will “range dramatically,” which is where Jason Blum comes in. The producer is already based at Universal, and has already produced two low-budget hits for the studio this year, M. Night Shyamalan’s Split and Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, Get Out. Split, which debuted in January, earned $138.1 million domestic and $276.9 million worldwide, from a $9 million budget. Get Out opened a month later, earning an unprecedented 100% Rotten Tomatoes score through its opening weekend, en route to earning $175.3 million domestically and $241.6 million worldwide, from just a $4.5 million budget.

This new report doesn’t reveal if Jason Blum has his eye on any particular project at this time, but the studio already has several more in development. As part of their major announcement last week, Universal Studios confirmed that Bill Condon will direct Bride of Frankenstein, with David Koepp writing the script. The studio also set a release date for Thursday, February 14, 2019, while claiming that the lead actress would be “announced soon.” There have long been rumors that Universal has been courting Angelina Jolie as the title character, but today’s report claims that it will likely cost the studio upwards of $20 million up front, plus profit participation to secure her as The Bride of Frankenstein.

Other Dark Universe projects in the works are The Wolfman, with rumors still swirling that the studio wants Dwayne Johnson to star, The Invisible Man starring Johnny Depp and Frankenstein starring Javier Bardem. None of these projects would seem ideal for Jason Blum’s micro-budget model, nor do other rumored projects like a Van Helsing reboot. While it remains to be seen if Jason Blum will in fact make a Dark Universe movie, he’s keeping plenty busy in the meantime. His Blumhouse Productions company is developing a Halloween reboot, while releasing two more movies this year, Amityville: The Awakening and Stephanie. He is also producing The Purge 4, Insidious Chapter 4 and the highly-anticipated Split/Unbreakable sequel known as Glass.

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