×

‘Invisible Man’ Finds Director, Sets New Course for Universal’s Monster Legacy (EXCLUSIVE)

Upgrade” director Leigh Whannell has signed on to direct a reboot of “The Invisible Man.” The project reunites Whannell with Jason Blum, who is producing the Universal Pictures movie through his Blumhouse banner.

Whannell will also pen the script.

The move is part of a fresh strategy for Universal’s monsters properties, bringing creative directors with distinctive visions to the classic characters and moving on from the interconnected Dark Universe concept.

Whannell, who is co-producing, has previously worked with Blumhouse Productions on hit films including “Insidious: The Last Key” and “Upgrade.” Johnny Depp was previously attached to “The Invisible Man,” but sources say he will not appear in this film. He may be featured in another one of the monster movie projects in development, sources say.

Universal has tabled the idea of an interconnected universe and is reassessing how to keep the enduring characters relevant for a new generation. Sources tell Variety that Universal remains committed to creating compelling filmmaker-driven projects based on characters from the studio’s vast monsters legacy.

“Throughout cinematic history, Universal’s classic monsters have been reinvented through the prism of each new filmmaker who brought these characters to life,” said Peter Cramer, Universal’s president of production. “We are excited to take a more individualized approach for their return to screen, shepherded by creators who have stories they are passionate to tell with them.”

The decision comes after “The Mummy” fell short of expectations at the box office, which led to the studio taking a new look at the strategy for the remaining monster characters including Frankenstein and Dracula.

By not mandating a unified, connected universe of monster stories, the studio will be able to open up the characters to filmmakers who will be inspired to create their own unique stories. Insiders say Universal has met with a number of prominent directors for various properties, and “The Invisible Man” is one of those new films. But hiring Whannell does not necessarily mean this will be the next monster movie to go into production, as other pitches are also coming together revolving around different characters.

Several versions of “The Invisible Man” have gotten the Hollywood treatment, with the most well-known being James Whale’s 1933 original adaptation of the H.G. Wells story, starring Claude Rains and Gloria Stuart.

Upcoming titles for Universal’s new monster strategy will be rooted in horror, with no restrictions on budget, tone, or rating, and no expectation that they will exist as part of a shared universe. An insider close to the process said freeing up the characters’ origins and stories to different interpretations will help them appeal to modern audiences.

The talent previously attached to various monster roles like Depp, Javier Bardem, Tom Cruise, and Russell Crowe still have the option to appear in the movies after a filmmaker with a new vision is brought on.

As for Blum, the super-producer has already started 2019 off strong with his 11th No. 1 opening as M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” grossed more than $100 million globally over the four-day MLK weekend. His next release is the sequel to 2017’s “Happy Death Day,” due on Feb. 13.

Whannell is represented by Paradigm Talent Agency, manager Stacey Testro and Myman Greenspan Fox Rosenberg Mobasser Younger & Light LLP.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

    Film Review: 'A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon'

    No asteroids are hurtling toward Earth in “A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon,” though a flying frozen pizza does softly slice the top off an elderly shopper’s hairdo: That’s roughly the level of quirky peril we’re talking about in the latest outing from Aardman Animations, and as usual, the British stop-motion masters cheerfully prove that [...]

  • Slam

    Film Review: ‘Slam’

    The disappearance of a fearless female Palestinian-Australian slam poet triggers suspense and powerful social and political commentary in “Slam,” an outstanding slow-burn thriller by expat Indian filmmaker Partho Sen-Gupta (“Sunrise”). Starring Palestinian actor Adam Bakri (“Omar,” “Official Secrets”) as the missing woman’s conflicted brother, and leading Aussie performer Rachael Blake as a troubled cop, Opening [...]

  • Igo Kantor

    Igo Kantor, Producer and Post-Production Executive, Dies at 89

    Igo Kantor, whose Hollywood career took him from Howard Hughes’ projection room to supervising post-production on “Easy Rider” and producing B-movies like “Kingdom of the Spiders” and “Mutant,” died Oct. 15. He was 89. Kantor, who was born in Vienna and raised in Lisbon, met “Dillinger” director Max Nosseck on the ship to New York. [...]

  • The Lion King

    Average Movie Ticket Price Falls 4% in Third Quarter of 2019

    Average ticket prices for the third quarter have dropped 4% to $8.93, down from Q2’s $9.26, the National Association of Theatre Owners announced today. However, compared with the third quarter of 2018, ticket price has risen 1.1% from $8.83. The summer box office is down 2.13% from 2018, though the third quarter box office is [...]

  • Tilda Swinton to Preside Over The

    Tilda Swinton to Preside Over Marrakech Film Festival

    Tilda Swinton, the iconoclastic British actress and producer, is set to preside over the 18th edition of the Marrakech International Film Festival, succeeding to American director James Gray. Swinton, who won an Oscar and a BAFTA award for best supporting actress for “Michael Clayton,” has been leading an eclectic acting career. She has collaborated with [...]

  • The King Netflix

    Middleburg Film Festival Brings Hollywood to Virginia

    For the last seven years, audiences have flocked to the Middleburg Film Festival. Running October 17th – 21st, and situated in the wine-country hills of historic Middleburg, Virg., the festival usually highlights some of the year’s buzziest titles, and 2019 is no exception. “We’re a smaller festival with fewer overall screenings than other events, so we [...]

  • Kelly McCormick and David Leitch'Fast &

    'Wheelman' Director to Helm 'Versus' From David Leitch, Kelly McCormick (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Wheelman” director Jeremy Rush is in negotiations to helm the action movie “Versus,” with Kelly McCormick and David Leitch producing. Rush will direct the Universal movie from a script penned by “Three Musketeers” scribe Alex Litvak and “American Assassin” writer Mike Finch. Plot details are being kept under wraps, though it will follow the genre [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content