Universal And Warner Bros Are Now In A Huge Legal Battle Over ‘Dark Universe’

Dark Universe is a pretty cool name for a movie or cinematic universe. It is so cool, in fact, that Universal and Warner Bros. pictures have both laid claim to it. Obviously, though, there can only be one Dark Universe, and now the two huge studios are at legal odds.

A while back, Warner Bros. announced that it would be releasing a film adaptation of the popular comic book series Justice League Dark. With the announcement, they specified that the name of the movie version would be Dark Universe. No release date was specified, and it is fair to assume the film will not be released for at least two years (the first Justice League movie installment is not coming out until November), but the name was official.

Skip to May 22, when Universal Pictures dropped a trailer for the cinematic universe they are planning, which is called… “Dark Universe.”

The idea is very cool; the universe will revolve around the Universal monsters that ruled the horror genre in the early to mid-1900s. Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster and his bride, The Mummy, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Wolfman, The Invisible Man, and The Phantom of the Opera will all get their own interconnected installments, and we might even see them team up in their own Justice League-style monster mash-up movie one day.

Interestingly, notes The Hollywood Reporter, some of the planned monster-verse films are set to be low-budget productions designed to replicate the vintage charm of the originals.

The trailer released with the announcement is cool, too. It can hardly be called a trailer since it is mostly just a compilation of clips from the old Universal monster movies set to modern epic movie music, but it is bound to stir up some retro hype for horror genre fans nonetheless.

How the name “Dark Universe” was approved for such a huge Universal Studios project when it was just announced as the name of an equally massive Warner Bros project is anyone’s guess, but Bloody Disgusting reports it was social media users who pointed out just after the trailer dropped that the name was already in use.

It might at first seem silly to say Universal and Warner Bros are “in a legal battle” over the use of the “Dark Universe” name. After all, Warner Bros clearly copyrighted it first. The thing is, Universal dropped this trailer that prominently displays the name, and they already put it on the internet in front of a mass audience. In other words, they already trespassed on Warner Bros’ turf, committing a crime by doing so.

That Warner Bros. will go after Universal in court is not absolutely confirmed yet, but the prospect of an easy win and the ensuing windfall of cash resulting from such a high-profile suit seems like it may be too much for Warner Bros to resist.

Coincidentally, the Inquisitr recently pointed out that Andres Muscietti, the man directing the upcoming part one adaptation of Stephen King’s It, has also been tagged by Warner Bros to direct Dark Universe (the Justice League one). Universal’s monster-iffic “Dark Universe” concerns the antagonists of the creature features from the 1950s, who serve as many of the forms Pennywise takes during Stephen King’s original telling of It. Not related to the legal controversy, but an interesting tidbit linking the two Dark Universes.

Clown in the sewer
Pennywise, the cannibalistic clown antagonist from 'It.' [Image by Brady Goldsmith/Art of Ronin]

No matter what Warner Bros. decides to do about the copyright infringement, Universal obviously won’t be allowed to use the name “Dark Universe” for their monster-verse. What do you think would be a good name for them to use instead? And are you excited to see these 20th century monsters make their return to the silver screen? Leave your opinions in the comments section below.

[Featured Image by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for DC Comics]