Late last week we promised more on Universal’s reboot of Bride of Frankenstein. We reported on the December 2015 news, courtesy of Variety, that David Koepp would be writing the big-screen feature and a month or so ago we teased the possibility of Angelina Jolie playing the iconic film character. So how does it all connect and how much do we really know in regards to one of Universal’s upcoming projects? Universal Monsters Universe has ventured to find out more and just like our original piece on June 2017’s The Mummy, this is “Bride of Frankenstein,” and what we know so far!
It’s no secret that Universal has tried rebooting/relaunching/remaking their library of classic monsters for some time now. Outside of 1999’s The Mummy and 2004’s Van Helsing (a film we’ll be discussing soon), fans haven’t gotten a presentation of the Universal Monsters in as cohesive and dynamic a way as they were originally presented. With “cinematic universes” all the rage – Marvel Cinematic Universe, DC Extended Universe, now seems like the perfect time to kick off a Universal Monsters Universe and The Bride is one of the next movies we should be seeing.
In our presentation and outlook on the in-development UMU films, we wrote about Bride of Frankenstein. Interestingly, but probably not surprising is the fact that Universal has tried revisiting this property for many years now. First news of this came through in 2009, via Reuters and Wired. Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment were originally looking at presenting the film with The Illusionist director Neil Burger to write and direct. At this time, Burger’s writing partner Dirk Wittenborn was also attached to the project. As we currently know, Burger and Wittenborn are no longer writing as David Koepp was recently announced in December 2015 as the writer on board the project. I wouldn’t be surprised if Neil Burger would still be on board to direct as there was never a formal announcement that he left the project, or any word from him considering his exit from Bride of Frankenstein.
Around 2004, American Splendor screenwriters Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini were on board to write the screenplay for Bride of Frankenstein. Their concept was to set the picture in contemporary New York, with a young woman dying and then brought back to life. Jacob Estes, a writer on the once planned Spider-Man spin-off Venom, was also at one point attached to the project to write a draft. While it was reported that Neil Burger’s version would differ from the contemporary setting and story of Berman and Pulcini’s draft, I would expect the possibility that David Koepp’s version may retain certain similarities to those ideas as the UMU is supposed to take place in modern times.
In Wired’s write up on Bride of Frankenstein being in the works (6/17/09), they make mention that Brian Grazer, a producer who needs no introduction, as the man behind Burger’s reboot. Having a producer like Brian Grazer would definitely establish a respectability for the Universal/Imagine film, but with the UMU now having Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan overseeing the UMU development, I’d say it’s more than likely that Grazer is off the film. However, when Bride of Frankenstein does release, I would personally expect to still see Brain Grazer’s name aboard the project, much like how Jon Peters name was attached to 2013’s Man of Steel.
Wired did make note of two interesting and entertaining personal thoughts on the film. Writer Hugh Hart suggested “unsolicited casting advice: Make [Jessica] Biel the Bride,” following her successful turn in Neil Burger’s 2006 film The Illusionist. He also writes, “We’d also suggest Uma Thurman.”
Both choices would be interesting to see on-screen in a role only played by Elsa Lanchester. Or by Jennifer Beals in the critically derided film The Bride (a film by Columbia Pictures, not Universal).
First, at the time in 2006 when Bride of Frankenstein was dominating the Universal Monsters reboot discussion, Jessica Biel was coming off of projects like The Illusionist, Home of the Brave, and Next. She was not only in two to three films a year, but also a very popular choice for movies. She was great in The Illusionist and she was quite muscular for movies like Blade: Trinity and Stealth. Physically, she’d be quite impressive as the Bride and bring a different and more modern take on the character as opposed to Elsa Lanchester’s. Under the right director and story, especially Neil Burger, this version of Bride of Frankenstein could have been a visual treat much like Joe Johnston’s The Wolfman. But, it more than likely would not be in the same vein of what Universal is now doing with Alex Kurtzman’s The Mummy.
This leads us to what we now know – David Koepp is writing Bride of Frankenstein, with no word on who will be directing. However, Angelina Jolie’s name has been associated with the role of the Bride for some time now. The Hollywood Reporter, in November 2015 wrote about Hollywood “Favor” Movies and of how many studios would risk producing films at a loss of money if they knew it would place them in the favor of a given actor or actress to star in a film they were developing. It’s a great read that I recommend checking out. Basically, in regards to UMU and The Bride of Frankenstein, they write how By The Sea (a movie starring Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt) cost them nearly $40 million in losses due to it flopping but that they were willing to accept the risk and cost because it would likely place Angelina Jolie in their favor of then signing onto The Bride of Frankenstein as Universal has placed her at the top of the list.
…But even if Universal loses tens of millions of dollars on By the Sea, the studio is gambling that by backing Jolie Pitt’s artistic whim, she will be amenable to starring in its tentpole Bride of Frankenstein, which is part of the Monster’s universe from producers Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan, or a long-hoped-for sequel to Wanted. – Tatiana Siegel of THR.
Variety reported that sources revealed Universal wants to offer Angelina Jolie Pitt directing and starring gigs in Bride of Frankenstein. The studio has had their eye on Jolie Pitt for some time, but she will remain undecided on whether she takes on the project until a script is delivered.
It would make sense that an actress and filmmaker such as Angelina Jolie would hold out until a script is delivered, but she definitely would lend an amazing amount of talent to the project and universe that already has people like Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp.
Just like The Mummy, it’ll be interesting to continually follow the development of the rest of the Universal Monsters films that are currently in the works. And, just like for The Mummy, us at Universal Monsters Universe will be here for every step of the way.
Who would you like to see play the Bride of Frankenstein? Do you think Jessica Biel or Uma Thurman could pull it off? Or would you rather see Angelina Jolie play the character? Sound off in the comments below and stay tuned for UMU’s take on Angelina Jolie as the Bride (if she boards the project).
(Steven Biscotti – @reggiemantleIII)