Leigh Whannell to Direct ‘Invisible Man’ as Universal Revamps Classic Monsters Strategy

So long, Dark Universe, we barely knew ye. Universal is shifting gears on their legacy monster movies, starting with The Invisible Man. Variety reports that Upgrade writer-director Leigh Whannell has signed on to direct an Invisible Man movie for Universal, re-teaming with Upgrade and Insidious producer Jason Blum, who will produce through his Blumhouse Productions banner.

The new strategy is a big shift for the studio, turning away from the star-studded shared universe that was the short-lived Dark Universe in favor of ” bringing creative directors with distinctive visions to the classic characters.” After years of development, Universal launched their shared Monster universe with The Mummy after casting a series of mega-stars as the iconic characters, but when the Tom Cruise-led Mummy update disappointed at the box office, the studio was forced to reevaluate their approach to the franchise.

Image via Universal Pictures

Per the report, Universal has shelved the idea of an interconnected universe, but they’re still high on the monster legacy and are now leaning into filmmaker-driven projects that will allow directors to bring their own unique spin to the characters without being beholden to an interconnected franchise. Variety notes “the titles will be rooted in horror, with no restrictions on budget, tone, or rating,” and filmmakers are open to take some liberties with origin stories and interpretation to update the material for modern audiences.

“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.”

Johnny Depp was previously attached to star in The Invisible Man, but word is he will no longer be a part of the revamped project. However, he and previously attached talent have the option to return for monster projects if they chose to do so. The other would-be Dark Universe stars include Javier Bardem (Frankenstein), and Russell Crowe (Jekyll and Hyde).