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Universal’s Snow White Prequel ‘Huntsman’ Targets April 2016 Release

Universal’s Snow White Prequel ‘Huntsman’ Targets April 2016 ReleaseThe Huntsman, Universal‘s Snow White And The Huntsman prequel, is getting an April 22, 2016 release date. That means a later release for the studio’s The Mummy, which originally had that date but is moving to June 26 of that year.

Both projects have been making news. Frank Darabont last month came aboard to direct Huntsman, a prequel that reveals how the fates of two characters — The Huntsman Eric and Ravenna — intersected before they met Snow White. Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron are back for those roles, and Darabont has written the most recent draft of the script that is not being called a sequel. Although, Universal will certainly take a repeat of the 2012 pic which grossed close to $400 million worldwide on a $170M budget.

The Mummy, meanwhile, is the first pic in Universal’s initiative under Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan to reboot its classic movie monster franchises; Kurtzman was set just yesterday to helm the Mummy franchise. That’s a quick turnaround considering the plan to expand and unify Universal’s network of classic characters and stories was unveiled first (by Deadline) just a couple weeks ago.

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Universal Unwraps Alex Kurtzman As New ‘Mummy’ Man

By | Wednesday July 30, 2014 @ 3:52pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Universal Unwraps Alex Kurtzman As New ‘Mummy’ ManTwo weeks after Deadline revealed that Universal Pictures was putting its classic movie monster franchises in the hands of Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan, the studio is setting Kurtzman to direct the resuscitation of The Mummy franchise. The studio tapped that duo to come up with a creative game plan and maybe take on some of these monster classics, and clearly The Mummy was the first one to go in production, so this is not a startling development.

mummm kurtzmUniversal has been trying to reopen the sarcophagus on this one for a while. The original trilogy, hatched by helmer Steve Sommers and starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz, grossed north of $1.2 billion, but locking down the reboot has been all kinds of frustrating. The studio had Len Wiseman locked to do it, but then he bailed and it was Mama helmer Andy Muschietti, but those talks didn’t work out either.

Related: Fleming Rants On Why Studios Can’t Launch Franchises Anymore, Leaving Us With Retreads Like ‘The Mummy’

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Universal Taps Alex Kurtzman, Chris Morgan To Relaunch Classic Movie Monster Franchises

By | Wednesday July 16, 2014 @ 12:53pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Universal Taps Alex Kurtzman, Chris Morgan To Relaunch Classic Movie Monster FranchisesEXCLUSIVE: In recent years Universal Pictures has become defined by its The Fast And The Furious, Despicable Me, Bourne and Jurassic Park franchises. But the studio’s most enduring legacy is its library of classic movie monsters that include Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man, Creature Of The Black Lagoon, The Invisible Man, Bride Of Frankenstein, and The Mummy. Universal is now dedicating renewed resources and an unprecedented, far-reaching commitment to revitalize its monster heritage.

frankenThe studio is in early stages of developing a substantial new production endeavor that will expand and unify a network of classic characters and stories. The architects of that narrative will be Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan. Kurtzman recently broke with partner Roberto Orci, but his big-scale projects have included Transformers, Star Trek and The Amazing Spider-Man. Morgan is the writer behind five installments of The Fast And The Furious, which has been Universal’s most reliably lucrative franchise. It’s not set in stone yet if either will write, but they will soon be going around town enlisting talent to bring new cinematic life to these enduring characters from lore, literature and Universal’s own library. While Universal has selectively tapped its Movie Monster library for The Mummy, Van Helsing, The Wolfman, and the upcoming Dracula Untold, this will be the first time that the studio has formalized an approach to these classic characters in a cohesive, connected way rather than as a series of stand-alone projects by disparate filmmaking teams. Read More »

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R.I.P. ‘The Mummy’ Franchise Producer Jim Jacks

By | Tuesday January 21, 2014 @ 5:56am PST
Mike Fleming

This is sad news. Jim Jacks has died. The former Universal Pictures production JimJacksexecutive transitioned to a film partnership with Sean Daniel in Universal-based Alphaville, and together they produced The Mummy franchise and films that included Tombstone, Dazed And Confused, A Simple Plan, Michael, and The Jackal. He was an exec producer of Raising Arizona and Intolerable Cruelty. They were among Universal’s biggest producing teams during the 1990s and early 2000s before they split. Daniel posted a tribute on his Facebook page: “Here’s to Jim Jacks. Nobody loved movies more. Passionate, loyal, generous, accomplished, noble, caring, heavily armed, creative, dare I say obsessive on occasion. A good man, a good friend, a wonderful partner, a loving son to his family. You will be missed.”

I am getting ready to leave Sundance, but will provide more details when I can. According to my Variety pal Dave McNary, Jacks was 66 and died of a heart attack in Los Angeles. I recall him as a strong-willed guy who loved films, who especially loved developing scripts alongside filmmakers, and who spent a lot of time writing his own screenplays as well.

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Universal Dates ‘The Mummy’ Reboot For April 2016, Pushes ‘Warcraft’ Out Of ‘Star Wars’ Slot

By | Wednesday November 27, 2013 @ 1:32pm PST

Universal Pictures logo 2013Nearing the end of its best year ever at the domestic box office, Universal announced a slew of release dates today. The recently shaken-up studio has set its reboot of The Mummy for April 22, 2016, and Seventh Son, the Jeff Bridges-Julianne Moore fantasy that Legendary picked up from Warner Bros in August, will bow February 6, 2015, a week before the arrival of Universal’s Fifty Shades Of Grey. Legendary‘s untitled Michael Mann cyberthriller for January 16, 2015. and Blumhouse’s Jennifer Lopez thriller The Boy Next Door hits theaters on January 23, 2015. The studio also is pushing its video game adaptation Warcraft — the first film that had been dated under the new Universal-Legendary partnership — from December 18, 2015 to March 2016. If that vacated date looks familiar, it’s probably because a little flick known as Star Wars: Episode VII was penciled into that slot three weeks ago. Warcraft has that new weekend to itself for now.

Related: Fleming Rants On Why Studios Can’t Launch Franchises Anymore, Leaving Us With Retreads Like ‘The Mummy’

So what competition will the newly dated pics face when they arrive a year or two or more from now? The Mummy and The Boy Next Door have no wide openers to contend with as of yet, but the other two do. Seventh Son will go against Sony/Screen Gems’ The Wedding Ringer, starring Kevin Hart, Josh Gad and Kaley Cuoco, and the Michael Mann pic will battle — in a jolt to the neck of Old Hollywood monster movie purists — Fox’s Frankenstein. If you’re scoring along at home, that will be four score and four years after Universal stitched together its Boris Karloff horror classic.

Here’s some background from the studio on its freshly slotted pics:
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‘Mama’ Director Circling Universal’s ‘The Mummy’ Reboot

By | Friday September 13, 2013 @ 12:25pm PDT

Andres Muschietti is in preliminary talks to helm The Mummy for Universal. The director and co-writer of the Guillermo del Toro executive produced horror film Mama would take over the role vacated by Len Wiseman, who dropped out of the contemporary reimagined reboot earlier this summer. After some meetings in August, Muschietti started talking to Universal last week, I’ve learned. While still ongoing, things slowed down due to the recent executive shake-up at the studio. Not that Muschietti doesn’t have a good track record with Universal. Opening on January 18 this year at the Box Office top spot, Mama has grossed over $147.7 million worldwide for Universal. The director is in development on the post-apocalyptic Bird Box for the studio. The three pic franchise has been a big success for Universal, grossing over $1.25 billion worldwide since the first Mummy came out in 1999.  The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor was released in 2008. Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci’s K/O Paper Products are producing the new Mummy with Sean Daniel. Jon Spaihts wrote the most current draft of the screenplay. Muschietti is represented by Resolution.

Related:
Fleming Rants On Why Studios Can’t Launch Franchises Anymore Leaving Us With Retreads Like ‘The Mummy’
UNIVERSAL SHAKEUP: Adam Fogelson Out, Donna Langley Sideways, Jeff Shell In, And Ron Meyer Up As Studio Taken By Surprise

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Fleming Rants On Why Studios Can’t Launch Franchises Anymore, Leaving Us With Retreads Like ‘The Mummy’

By | Thursday August 1, 2013 @ 7:03am PDT
Mike Fleming

Universal has confirmed that Len Wiseman has dropped off Universal’s reboot of The Mummy franchise, which will get a new round of movies after the last reboot trilogy grossed north of $1.25 billion worldwide before running out of steam. Do we need another Mummy? I wouldn’t think so, but apparently we do need to reopen that sarcophagus, especially since studios are whiffing badly in attempts to create new intellectual properties. They instead seem bent on running tried and tested past successes into the ground.

Leaving The Mummy might be the best thing for Wiseman, a props man who got off to an impressive start as a director by launching the ambitious Underworld. He helped hatch that series, which added some real flourishes to the  vampires and werewolves genre. Since then, Wiseman has gone through a succession of sequels (Live Free Or Die Hard) and remakes (Total Recall), becoming a symbol of a time where Hollywood studios place too little emphasis on originality and instead prize utterly familiar product studios hope might put up big global numbers. Wiseman needs an original movie, and fast.

Why does Hollywood go back to the well so often on tired retreads? Because, as this summer has proven, it’s damn near impossible to create new intellectual properties that are not based on bestselling book series with vast reading audiences like Twilight Saga or The Hunger Games. Some of this summer’s non-sequel misfires, like After Earth, The Lone Ranger and R.I.P.D., surely deserve to be one-offs. But even worthy, imaginative films like Pacific Rim have it rough. They get measured and dismissed quickly, not helped by the fact that press coverage has become reliant on imprecise tracking service estimates that give journalists a touchstone to dismiss movies even before anyone has seen them. Early low tracking on Pacific Rim fueled advance stories that the movie would be a flop, which it wasn’t. When The Wolverine‘s opening weekend didn’t match high advance tracking estimates, journalists bashed the movie (which is quite good), and not the faulty tracking services that overestimated the opening weekend numbers in the first place. Pacific Rim also wasn’t helped by a marketing campaign straight out of Transformers, and it wasn’t until too late that Warner Bros switched to spots that showed the movie had heart and wasn’t just a collision of robots and over-sized alien monsters from beneath the sea.

If there are two originals this summer worth sequel-izing, I would nominate Pacific Rim and World War Z. Despite being real crowd-pleasers, these will not be easy decisions because their high production budgets require each to do upwards of $400 million worldwide before serious sequel talk even begins. WWZ passed this threshold and is at $475 million, while Pac Rim is at $226 million but playing strong in Asian territories including China. All of this raises the currency of worn franchises like The Mummy. Read More »

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