The DUCU lives! Back in 2017, Universal Studios announced plans to hop aboard the hype train of shared cinematic universes because everyone wanted to have their very own multi-billion Marvel-esque extended world. The Dark Universe, or the DUCU (Dark Universal Cinematic Universe), was announced with great fanfare, as renowned actors like Johnny Depp, Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, and Javier Bardem as Frankenstein’s Monster were signed on to create a new world of ghoulish cinematic fun.
Well, it didn’t exactly pan out. The Mummy, the first film in the series starring Tom Cruise, lost the studio around $100 million despite technically finishing its theatrical run in the black. Reviews were negative, and soon after Depp got entangled in a web of ugly legal battles with his ex-wife Amber Heard. Universal decided to cut their losses and shipped off the planned follow up, The Invisible Man, to Blumhouse Productions, effectively sealing the fate of the ill-conceived franchise concept.
However, a new wrinkle in the story has appeared. Apparently, the DUCU is back on with a new adaptation of Dracula starring Nicolas Cage in the title role. Well, not actually the title role, because the film is based on Dracula’s sidekick, Renfield, who will be portrayed by Nicholas Hoult.
R.M. Renfield actually has a relatively solid cinematic legacy, with legendary eccentrics like Klaus Kinski and Tom Waits portraying the part in films of the past. Within the story, Renfield is a lunatic confined to an insane asylum who comes under the influence of Count Dracula.
The film is apparently a soft reboot for the DUCU, taking on a lighter tone that is to be inspired by What We Do In the Shadows. The Lego Batman Movie director Chris McKay is attached to direct, and Rick and Morty writer Ryan Ridley will be penning the film’s script.
Hopefully, the new monster movie, and maybe even the DUCU at large, will work out. If not, there’s always this wonderful time capsule of missed opportunity to fall back on.