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Universal taps Johnny Depp for reboot of The Invisible Man

Universal Studios has found the latest link in the chain of its planned monster cinematic universe, and it begins and ends with Johnny Depp. The enigmatic Hollywood superstar will take on the lead role in Universal’s reboot of The Invisible Man, according to sources speaking with Variety.

Currently in its nascent stages, there is no director or writer attached to the new film, but it makes sense that Universal would pick a big name early on. The film will follow the latest reboot of The Mummy, due out in June 2017, for which Universal chose another huge star in Tom Cruise.

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The original 1933 film starred Claude Rains as H.G. Wells’ notoriously shallow character who loses his visible presence — and his conscience with it — while experimenting with laboratory chemicals.

It seems Universal is looking for some serious star power to revitalize its monster properties, which the studio is hoping to roll into a sprawling, Marvel-style franchise that could see individual films meeting up in super-group crossover efforts ala The Avengers, or the upcoming Captain America: Civil War. That means it’s possible — maybe even likely — that Depp and Cruise will star in a movie together in the not-too distant future. That’s something we didn’t see coming.

The choice of Depp also signals the studio has learned from its earlier mistakes. Universal already stumbled in its first effort to kick off the monsters franchise with 2014’s Dracula Untold, which lacked a standout star and was a total dud both critically and financially.

Another key to Universal’s big plan is producer/writer/director Alex Kurtzman, who will oversee the entire franchise along with Chris Morgan, though it’s not clear what role Kurtzman will take in The Invisible Man at present. Universal Executive VP Jon Mone and VP Jay Polidoro will oversee production for the studio.

There’s no timetable for The Invisible Man yet, so it’s theoretically possible it might not even be the next film to follow The Mummy. However, with Depp locked down, it’s likely the studio will want to begin production sooner rather than later.