Like many Hollywood studios, Universal is coming down with a severe case of franchise fever, as it's eyeing a number of sequels and reboots for its various properties. Among them are old standbys such as the Universal Monsters and Bourne, but the studio is also keen to kickstart new franchises after the success of "Identity Thief" and "Snow White and the Huntsman."
In a recent interview, chairman Adam Folgeson revealed Universal's plans to focus on capitalizing on recent successes. Since "Identity Thief" has become a hit, the studio has "absolutely had a conversation" about producing a sequel, as he believes the film "created great characters" that he would like to revisit at some point.
Folgeson also updated the status of the "Bourne" franchise and indicated that he "absolutely sees" that franchise moving forward in some capacity. While he noted that "The Bourne Legacy" didn't perform as well as its predecessor at the box office, he insisted that the film "create[d] a universe, a world and characters that give us a lot of freedom and flexibility in how we go forward."
The chairman even said he would be open to having discussions with Matt Damon should he ever want to return, though such a scenario seems unlikely given the actor's recent noncommittal comments about returning to the franchise.
A proposed follow-up to "Snow White and the Huntsman" has also been the topic of conversation since last summer; at various points, the film has been conceived as both a traditional sequel and a spin-off focusing solely on Chris Hemsworth's huntsman. However, Folgeson revealed that Universal is "actively developing the movie right now with Kristen [Stewart's] character central, as well as the Huntsman role" but also noted that director Rupert Sanders isn't pursuing a return.
When discussing the studio's stable of monsters, Folgeson talked up the "tragic" qualities of the individual characters, a trait that makes them different from "superheroes." He then went on to explain that Universal sees Van Helsing as an opportunity to "solve the problem" of making a "blockbuster out of monsters" (since "The Mummy" already solved that problem a decade ago, it's no surprise that the studio is developing a reboot of that property as well).
Finally, Folgeson discussed "Fifty Shades of Grey," which the studio certainly hopes will spawn a franchise. However, he also revealed that neither Universal nor author E.L. James has "any interest" in rushing things and that the studio is thinking hard about "what this book is as a movie."
Still, the film remains "an absolute priority," and Folgeson said it's possible the film could be ready for release "as early as next summer."
If Universal stays this course, audiences can expect a lot of familiarity flooding into multiplexes over the next couple of years; it almost seems appropriate, though, as Universal helped to usher in the notion of long-running franchises with its stable of monsters over 80 years ago.
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