“Welcome to a new world of Gods and Monsters” was the optimistically bombastic tagline for the launch of Universal’s ill-fated Dark Universe. An ambitious piece of world-building to rival the DCEU or the MCU using the studio’s legendary monsters, that would bring together Johnny Depp’s Invisible Man, Javier Bardem’s Frankenstein, Angelina Jolie’s Bride, and Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt-alike adventurer from The Mummy.
However, when the latter unravelled and limped towards an $80M domestic gross and a 16% Rotten Tomatoes score, the idea was consigned to a cinematic tomb, and now director Alex Kurtzman has called the experience “the biggest failure of my life”.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter while doing the press rounds for his Showtime sci-fi series The Man Who Fell to Earth, Kurtzman said “I tend to subscribe to the point of view that you learn nothing from your successes, and you learn everything from your failures, and that was probably the biggest failure of my life, both personally and professionally. There’s about a million things I regret about it, but it also gave me so many gifts that are inexpressibly beautiful. I didn’t become a director until I made that movie, and it wasn’t because it was well-directed — it was because it wasn’t.”
Universal did relaunch their monster universe in a much more low-key fashion with Leigh Whannell’s terrific Invisible Man, and while Kurtzman hasn’t directed a feature film since The Mummy, he has taken positives from the experience, adding that “as brutal as it was, in many ways, and as many cooks in the kitchen as there were, I am very grateful for the opportunity to make those mistakes because it rebuilt me into a tougher person, and it also rebuilt me into a clearer filmmaker. And that has been a real gift, and I feel those gifts all the time because I’m very clear now when I have a feeling that doesn’t feel right — I am not quiet about it anymore. I will literally not proceed when I feel that feeling. It’s not worth it to me. And you can’t get to that place of gratitude until you’ve had that kind of experience.”
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