It was just a couple of weeks ago that we learned that Alex Kurtzman (TRANSFORMERS, STAR TREK) and Chris Morgan (FAST AND FURIOUS franchise) would be spearheading a crossover universe for the Universal Monsters starting with THE MUMMY, but it appears that those plans also include giving Kurtzman the keys to the first film out of the gate. THE MUMMY is intended to set the tone for the other Universal Monsters films going forward, and while the project previously had Len Wiseman (UNDERWORLD) attached to direct and then later Andy Muschietti (MAMA), both of those filmmakers subsequently left the project. With Universal keen on getting going sooner rather than later in anticipation of a April 22, 2016 release date, the studio has now tapped Kurtzman to direct THE MUMMY instead.
Per THR, Alex Kurtzman is in final negotiations to take the helm of THE MUMMY. Kurtzman is best known as one half of his writing partnership with Roberto Orci that resulted in screenwriting jobs on the first two TRANSFORMERS films, the first two STAR TREK films, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2, and more. The two recently decided to sever their professional relationship, and it appears that Kurtzman’s first project in the post-Orci world will be this new iteration of THE MUMMY.
Though one might think Universal could create a wonderful, interconnected horror franchise with its Universal Monsters, the studio will instead be keeping things four quandrant-friendly with this interconnected series of films. THE MUMMY takes place in the present day and is described as an action-adventure tentpole with horror elements rather than a straight horror film, and it will feature all-new characters, opting not to riff on previous Mummy films.
Kurtzman previously worked on the script for THE MUMMY with Orci, as did Prometheus screenwriter Jon Spaihts. Again, THE MUMMU is intended to set the stage for the Universal Monsters franchise, so all eyes will be on what Kurtzman comes up with. The scribe has only directed one other feature film, the 2012 dramedy PEOPLE LIKE US, so this is quite a step up—though somewhat fitting, given that Orci will be making his directorial debut with STAR TREK 3.
Kurtzman is also attached to direct VENOM for Sony and has been one of the producers spearheading the studio’s SPIDER-MAN franchise, but after the lackluster performance of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2, the studio’s ambitious plans have been put in doubt (indeed, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 3 has already been pushed to 2018). Now that Kurtzman will be tied up with THE MUMMY through 2016, don’t expect to see VENOM anytime soon.
I’m personally a fan of Guillermo del Toro’s vision for an interconnected Universal Monsters universe, which involves making them all period pieces and drawing from the Victorian era. Though that plan isn’t exactly being implemented by Kurtzman and Morgan, I do hope they enlist del Toro to bring FRANKENSTEIN to the screen.