Moviegoers love a good monster movie. Or at least, they used to. That was before characters like Frankenstein and the Wolf Man appeared in countless movies. Eventually, these stories — and so many others inspired by them — lost their mainstream appeal. And the age of Universal Monsters officially ended.
Of course, they have popped up now and again. 1999’s The Mummy is perhaps the best example in the past few decades of a classic Universal monster movie achieving blockbuster status. The studio has tried again in the past decade, but both Dracula Untold and 2017’s The Mummy fell short of expectations. As a result, the planned “Dark Universe” was scrapped.
But now, the Universal Monsters are doing what they do best: living on. With the recent success of The Invisible Man, the production house behind that movie is now moving on to arguably the most recognizable Universal monster. That’s right, children of the night. Count Dracula is about to rise (again).
The Universal Monsters are back, thanks to ‘The Invisible Man’
Since the late 2000s, Blumhouse has operated with a very specific business model. By keeping production budgets tight, the company — founded by producer Jason Blum — is able to give filmmakers creative control. Plus, by offering actors a back-end deal, Blumhouse is often able to attract and afford top talent to headline their films.
Over the years, the Blumhouse way created such hits as Paranormal Activity, Insidious, The Purge, Happy Death Day, and Split. But in one of its most audacious moves, Blumhouse hired writer/director Leigh Whannell (Upgrade) to deliver an update of 1933 classic The Invisible Man. With little to lose, why not try an alternative approach to the Universal Monsters?
Surprising just about everyone, The Invisible Man exceeded projections with a $29 million opening weekend. Made for just $7 million, the film — which stars Elisabeth Moss — has suddenly opened the floodgates of potential Universal Monsters projects. James Wan is working on a new Frankenstein, and now Blumhouse is getting back into the Universal monster business.
Now Blumhouse has a new ‘Dracula’ on the way
When The Invisible Man landed, many fans wondered whether Blumhouse would get the chance to apply its less-is-more approach to another Universal Monsters property. But no one expected news of another project so soon thereafter. But it’s official: Blumhouse is developing a new version of Dracula.
Considering Blumhouse’s usual budgetary restriction and the success of The Invisible Man, we can surmise this Dracula will be set in modern times. But we don’t even know if the Blumhouse project will officially be a Universal film. After all, Bram Stoker’s novel is public domain. Yet, Blumhouse has a first-look deal with Universal. So that partnership will probably continue.
However, the Blumhouse Dracula does already have director Karyn Kusama attached. The filmmaker broke through with her 2000 feature debut Girlfight. But her horror films Jennifer’s Body and The Invitation have both inspired devoted fan bases. Most recently, she directed the Nicole Kidman-led thriller Destroyer, which earned the star some awards buzz.
Can the most famous vampire stage a worthy big-screen comeback?
We don’t doubt Kusama’s ability to deliver a solid take on Stoker’s iconic tale, especially within Blumhouse. However, the big question is whether audiences will embrace the iconic vampire. After all, in a post-Twilight world, this particular horror archetype hasn’t really been too popular since the days of Interview with the Vampire, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Blade.
In the 2010s, the best vampire movies have been direct remakes of previous works, such as Let Me In. And it’s an even more dire situation for Dracula himself. The Adam Sandler-voiced Dracula of the Hotel Transylvania franchise has become arguably the most popular big-screen version in decades. Hopefully, Kusama can make undead count terrifying once again.