Rumor: Universal Want Dwayne Johnson To Join Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp & Russell Crowe In Their Monsters Universe

Every studio has reacted a little differently to the enormous success of Marvel and their extended, interlocking cinematic universe. Disney double-downed by buying up “Star Wars.” Paramount hired Pulitzer-winners to brainstorm ideas for movies about “Micronauts” and “MASK.” Sony allied with Marvel for a “Spider-Man” movie. Warner Bros. opted for a grittier take on the superhero mega-verse, then changed course in a panic when people turned out to hate it.

But Universal might have one of the more interesting, and risky, responses. The studio have opted to capitalize on some of their major assets in the so-called Universal Monsters — the figures from horror literature who starred in classic 1930s and 1940s films for the studio. Aware that that isn’t necessarily the big drawing point of a Captain America or a Thor, they’ve also differed from the Marvel approach by trying to lure major A-list stars to star in the films: Tom Cruise will headline the first, “The Mummy,” Russell Crowe will cameo in that as Dr. Jekyll before getting his own movie, and Johnny Depp was slated to playThe Invisible Man” (though whether that still holds after recent events remains to be seen).

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And now one more name might be lined up, with Dwayne Johnson, as big a star as any of the others right now and arguably a more reliable box office-draw, linked to “The Wolf Man,” according to rumors that Deadline has heard. Johnson’s at the peak of his game right now (as Jess wrote in her tribute to the man recently), and “Central Intelligence” is one of the few films this summer not to underperform, so it’s no surprise that Universal are keen. Whether or not it’s the best fit for him remains to be seen: replacing such a physical performer with a CGI beastie would be a shame, though he’s likely to be a more enjoyable presence than Benicio Del Toro’s dour presence in the lousy 2010 version. “Prisoners” writer Aaron Guzikowski was the last writer we heard to be involved. There’s no director attached, but a 2018 release date is said to be the target.

Johnson’s schedule might be the biggest problem here, as the Deadline story reveals yet another project the in-demand star has lined up. He’s going to produce the graphic novel adaptation “Son Of Shaolin,” a planned-for global franchise involving kung-fu and gentrification from writer Jay Longino. The star might also appear in the movie, but that’ll be decided down the line — he’s got “Baywatch,” “Fast 8,” “Jumanji” “Doc Savage,” “Skyscraper” and “Shazam!” on his slate right now among many others, so it may prove hard to fit in, especially with HBO comedy “Ballers” to do too.