Troubles continue to plague Universal’s Dark Universe.
Universal has decided to put the breaks on their next big production. Deadline has the scoop that Bill Condon’s Bride of Frankenstein will suffer a delay, as Universal announced a series of delays including some of their biggest properties like Fast and Furious. Pre-Production for Bride of Frankenstein was already underway when Condon and his team got the news from the higher-ups. In fact, Condon was just recently talking about his plans for the adaptation and how excited he was to get started.
It was always going to be a question of how do you take one of the most beloved films’ of all time and remake it for a modern audience? Bride of Frankenstein has iconic written all over it. Based on material from Mary Shelly’s original Frankenstein novel, director James Whale and screenwriter William Hurlbut imagine a direct continuation of Dr. Frankenstein’s nightmarish tale. Featuring the great Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s Monster, the sequel is considered one of the few that surpasses an already historically great original.
Stars Javier Bardem and Angelia Jolie, who were in talks for the roles of Frankenstein’s monster and The Bride, have been asked to wait while they get these issues ironed out. The rumor is that more work will be done on the script, likely due to screenwriter David Koepp’s involvement and the failure of The Mummy. Universal released a statement to Deadline that read,
“After thoughtful consideration, Universal Pictures and director Bill Condon have decided to postpone Bride of Frankenstein. None of us want to move too quickly to meet a release date when we know this special movie needs more time to come together. Bill is a director whose enormous talent has been proven time and again, and we all look forward to continuing to work on this film together.”
There is hope that this will only be a small delay and not a full cancellation of the project. If there was someone that was going to attempt such a challenge, it would make sense to have Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters, Beauty and the Beast) have his shot at it. For those unfamiliar with Condon’s Gods and Monsters, it looked into the final days of Frankenstein director James Whale life. So not only is Condon extremely accustomed to the material of Bride of Frankenstein but working on Dreamgirls and Beauty and the Beast allowed him to experience the pressures of reviving a classic tale.
While doing press for the upcoming extended release of Dreamgirls, Condon talked with Collider about his expectations for bringing Bride of Frankenstein back to life. He was likely blindsided by the announcement of the delay since he shares no inkling of that here. He shared how he was asked to join this latest adaptation of the material.
“It’s very rare and I’ve been so lucky, I’ve got to say, between this and Beauty and the Beast, the kind of movies that are being made at studios, you just kind of grow resigned to the fact that that’s not things that you’re going to connect to. But they were both things I heard about, and Bride was something I hear about a year and a half ago maybe and was always hoping that if it became real that I could at least take a look at it and talk about it because I’ve thought about it [over] the years. Luckily then they decided that they were going to go ahead and they approached me, so it was one of those things where exactly what you were hoping would happen, did happen.”
Condon shared what if feels like to be the man that has to bring such an iconic piece of film history to life.
“The movie is obviously in the pantheon for so many people and I’m one of them. I love that film so much. So I do feel again that responsibility I felt to Dreamgirls, the one I felt to Beauty and the Beast, I feel the same response to what Whale created.”
He also discussed how his adaptation will be different than Whale’s original work, this time adding more emphasis on The Bride.
“What I love about David Koepp’s script is he turns everything on its head. This is Eve before Adam, the bride comes first. So in its own way — you know, we all know the Bride only exists for 10 minutes in the Whale movie; she’s there and the movie’s over. So I keep thinking [it’s], in a way, at least a tribute to what Whale might have done if he’d made a third Frankenstein movie and he’d done it in the 21st Century. I think there are just things about the sensibility of that movie. Also his genius in solving that basic problem you still see when people approach monster movies now, which is you’ve got to create a monster that you’re afraid of, that you’re terrified of, but you can still identify with, and that line was never walked better than by James Whale.”
The Mummy ended up making a ton of money internationally but was still considered a disappointment from those involved. The Tom Cruise / Dark Universe movie failed to enrapture audiences. Condon was asked whether the Bride of Frankenstein will tie into the larger Dark Universe or if he is concerned about Koepp’s script.
“I will tell you this — what I’m doing is 100% making a really good monster movie. It has nothing to do with anything else. Nothing. Zero.”
Universal seems really gun shy about their Dark Universe now that The Mummy has failed to live up to expectations. It is understandable that they want to make sure Bride of Frankenstein will be a success not just financially but critically as well. Their entire plans for an extended universe count on it. We will likely never see the version of Bride of Frankenstein Condon talks about in these interviews, but his hopefulness and determination make him the best fit for the job.
Bride of Frankenstein was scheduled to arrive in theaters on February 14, 2019, but that date will likely change as the film goes back to square one.