Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Hollywood Babble On & On #892: Universal Flogs Undead Horses

Universal Pictures, which is currently celebrating its 100th birthday, has hired franchise reboot gurus Alex Kurzman and Roberto Orci to a big deal to reboot the Van Helsing and Mummy franchises.

Yep, Universal Pictures wants to remake a remake from 1999 (The Mummy) as well as remake a complete creative abomination from 2004 (Van Helsing).

Let's look at the PROS & CONS! 


1.  MONEY:  Both the Mummy franchise and Van Helsing made a lot of money, especially in the precious overseas markets.  The 3 Mummy movies made over $400 million each, while Van Helsing made about $300 million internationally.

It's obvious that people will pay to see these types of movies.

2.  MONEY MEN:  Kurzman and Orci write movies that make a lot of money.  A look at their recent resume shows a string of big money blockbusters.


1. THE MESSAGE: Not any message inherent in the themes of the movies themselves, but the message that Universal is sending to the world about itself.

They essentially are telling the world that the management of the studio is scared and indecisive.  They don't want the risk of doing anything remotely original because they are incapable of judging the quality of something that doesn't already have a franchise behind it.

That's not a good message for any studio to give.

2. NOVELTY: When the films first came out there was a certain novelty to them.  Universal had taken venerable horror franchises mashed them up with Indiana Jones movies tossed in loads of CGI and watched the money flow in.

However, now the novelty is gone.

When people see these new movies coming out they're going to think that Universal is just giving them something they've already seen with different actors.

3. MONEY: The films were incredibly expensive, costing well over $120-$160 million a piece. Take for example Van Helsing; it made $300 million at the box office internationally, but when you take into account the costs of prints and advertising, and theaters taking their cut, which is bigger overseas it might have broken even, but that's an extreme long shot.

Those costs: production, P&A, and overseas house nuts have all gone up in the intervening years.  If they repeat the trend of doing everything bigger, louder, and more expensive, they might just price these franchises out of profitability.

4. MISSED OPPORTUNITIES: The money Universal is spending on these new movies could have been spent on doing something different.  They could have even done mummy or Van Helsing related movies, just do scary ones at a much smaller cost.

But that would take imagination and intestinal fortitude.

For Universal, better to toss money at some other guys so then if they tank you can put the blame all on them.

1 comment:

  1. Universal is floundering, I expect, because of the bombing of The Wolfman. Sort of like Warners' inability to get a (non-Nolan Batman) DC superhero movie successfully launched. Both studios are sure they are sitting on a gold mine, but they just can't get out of their own ways.*

    [*Hint to Warners: The Marvel movies are successful because they are *fun*. Try that. The chances of you stumbling across another Nolan are basically nil, and Bryan Singer ain't close.]

    Universal's big advantage regarding Van Helsing is that the film sucked so badly that improving on it should be a no brainer. (Doesn't mean they will, of course.) Hard to think they'll top The Mummy, though. It wasn't brilliant, but it was really quite solid.

    Of course, The Mummy (and Van Helsing) was recrafted as an action film rather than horror. They might think that's a more promising avenue, and hence are staying away from properties that don't lend themselves as much to that approach.

    Good grief, how long have they been trying to remake Creature of the Black Lagoon? Decades, literally. It'll get made sooner or later, but I'll tell you one thing; the more they explicitly try to hammer the audience with an overt environmental message, the worse the film will do.