Universal’s Dark Universe has gotten off to a truly awful start. The debut film of the shared monster universe has garnered marginal pre-release box office and even worse reviews. Prior to the June 9 North American major release, the film pulled in over $20 million at international theaters and $2.7 million in previews.
Those at Universal hoping for hundreds of millions of dollars in international box office are going to be very disappointed. The film might only barely hit the $100 million mark in North America, but is likely to do much better overseas. $300 to $400 in worldwide grosses won’t even come close to the big money made by other franchises.
The Mummy is not launching the Dark Universe, a shared universe reboot of the classic horror films of the 1930’s and 1940’s, on the right footing. Even if the box office was below expectations, good reviews could help keep plans moving.
Universal is not likely going to abandon the Dark Universe too quickly, but there are surely major worries. The Mummy is not the first disappointment. Several years ago, The Wolfman remake did not deliver the desired results at the box office.
Perhaps the trouble with the Dark Universe is the weak attempt at crossing genres. Pirates of the Caribbean, Marvel/DC heroes, Godzilla & King Kong, and Fast and Furious are all movies rooted in action. Monsters such are horror. The previous Mummy franchise did weave in adventure quite well but, in general, monsters are tied with horror. Trying to turn the Universal monsters into stand-ins for superheroes probably won’t work.
All is not lost. The D.C. Extended Universe suffered several critical duds before the release of the outstanding Wonder Woman. No D.C. Comics film did weak box office, though.
The creative teams at Universal have their work cut out for them with the Dark Universe going forward.