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Cinematic universes you didn't know are being made

When Marvel first hatched their ambitious plan for a large-scale cinematic universe, they couldn't have known how large of an impact their idea would come to have on Hollywood. The company's comics rival DC were one of the first to jump on the bandwagon with the creation of their Extended Universe, and before long, universe fever spread beyond the realm of superheroes as major studios started scrambling for properties, snapping up anything and everything that had nostalgia value and/or longevity.

Adopting the cinematic universe model doesn't guarantee success, however. Legendary Pictures is winning with its MonsterVerse right now, but others have stumbled straight out of the blocks. Universal's Dark Universe is already in trouble after The Mummy failed to impress, and the Guy Ritchie-led King Arthur franchise, conceived as a potential cinematic universe, is seemingly dead after Legend of the Sword bombed hard.

Studios won't be discouraged from trying, however. Numerous cinematic universes are still being plotted, and some of them will surprise you.

Call of Duty

The failure of 2016's Assassin's Creed marked the latest in a long line of botched video game adaptations, but the makers of popular first-person shooter Call of Duty still believe they can turn their prize property into a successful cinematic universe. Developer Activision Blizzard recently formed a studio arm to branch out into film and television, and they plan to jump in at the deep end with Call of Duty.

Stacey Sher (who produced Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight) and Nick van Dyk (a former Disney exec who helped the Mouse House acquire Marvel) have been placed in charge of Activision Blizzard Studios, and both have been talking up the possibilities Call of Duty offers.  "It's going to have the same sort of high-adrenaline, high-energy aesthetic as the game, but it's not a literal adaptation," van Dyk told The Guardian. "It's a much more broad and inclusive, global in scope ... a big, tentpole Marvel-esque movie."

Sher explained that the movies will pay homage to the different games in the series in their themes. "We have plotted out many years," she said. "There'll be a film that feels more like Black Ops, the story behind the story. The Modern Warfare series looks at what it's like to fight a war with the eyes of the world on you. And then maybe something that is more of a hybrid, where you are looking at private, covert operations, while a public operation is going on."

The Sony Marvel Universe

Sony owning the rights to Spider-Man was a hurdle that Marvel was always going to have to face. Thankfully, the two studios came to an agreement over the character in which Marvel could use him, but Sony would reap the major financial benefits of his solo MCU outing Spider-Man: Homecoming. According to Polygon, the flip side of that deal was that Sony wouldn't be entitled to any of the takings from other MCU installments featuring Peter Parker, namely Captain America: Civil War and the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War.

That all seemed straightforward enough, but when Sony then announced their intention to make more movies with their Spidey-related characters, things got a little messy. The studio sent out a tweet proclaiming Tom Hardy the new Venom, and their phrasing left people scratching their heads: "Tom Hardy is Eddie Brock in Venom, the upcoming film from Sony's Marvel Universe."

There was immediate debate about what Sony's Marvel Universe was and whether Tom Holland's Spider-Man was a part of it. During an awkward interview with Marvel's Kevin Feige and Sony's Amy Pascal, Pascal seemed to announce that all the movies would be connected, much to Feige's barely-hidden confusion. A ComicBook.com exclusive later cleared things up, with the official line being that Sony's upcoming Marvel movies (their other ongoing project, Silver and Blackhas a February 2019 release date) exist in their own universe.

Valiant Comics Universe

Sony has more than Spider-Man's extended family to play with when it comes to crafting a shared superhero universe. The studio has been quietly going about laying the foundations for their Valiant Comics Universe after forging a five-picture deal with the publisher back in 2015. Two movies based on the Bloodshot and Harbinger titles are being developed, as well as one inspired by Valiant's crossover event Harbinger Wars.

First out of the blocks: Bloodshot, which will steer clear of superhero movie conventions and instead be heavily influenced by classic sci-fi, according to Valiant CEO Dinesh Shamdasani. "The Bloodshot film has more in common with Terminator and Robocop and Total Recall than it does superhero fare," he told ComicBook.com. "[There's] a superhero at the center of it, but all of the other iconography, the tropes, the conventions, the trappings of the film are in a different genre than I think people would expect."

The rumor mill has picked up pace in terms of casting, with a number of Hollywood A-listers under consideration for the role of vengeful supersoldier Bloodshot. Sony wants someone with name recognition, with Oscar Isaac, James McAvoy, Jake Gyllenhaal, Nicholas Hoult and Mark Wahlberg all said to be on the studio's wish list. Dave Bautista recently revealed that he's in talks for the lead role in a film based on Valiant's Eternal Warrior title, a project that had previously been kept under wraps.

John Wick

We've known for awhile that the world of John Wick is being expanded with a prequel TV series, as the man behind the Keanu Reeves fronted gun-fu thrillers confirmed as much. The show will revolve around the Continental, a global hotel chain that caters to assassins. "They've got a really good structure, it's very tied to the film," explained director Chad Stahelski. "It's about the Continentals all over the world, how certain people come into that world, and what happens in relation to those people, which is cool. I think the world is very vast, and everything I've heard from it is very positive."

Lionsgate are said to be "very excited" about bringing John Wick's world to television, but they're also moving ahead with plans to explore more of it on the big screen. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the studio recently won a bidding war over a spec script called Ballerina, which they plan to weave into Wick mythology. The script (which has been likened to Luc Besson's seminal '90s assassin flick La Femme Nikita) is by promising young scribe Shay Hatten, who is something of a real life Peter Parker—the 23-year-old won an internship with Robert Downey Jr.'s production company and was soon promoted to writer's assistant. He wrote Ballerina in his spare time.

John Wick 3 is also on the way, with Stahelski and Reeves "very comfortable" with the direction they plan on taking the character.

The Hasbro Universe

Hasbro has some truly grand plans for a large-scale cinematic universe, and the team of talent they've assembled shows they mean business. Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain Marvel co-writer Nicole Perlman is on board to oversee development, but she's far from the only Marvel face on the large team. Luke Cage showrunner Cheo Coker has also been drafted, as have screenwriters John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (Spider-Man: Homecoming) as well as Joe Robert Cole (Black Panther).

"Bringing together a writers room of this caliber is a bold step for our partnership, and one that we believe is critical for building these brands into new, successful franchises for the future," said Paramount CEO Brad Grey. The studio produced the Transformers and G.I. Joe franchises (both Hasbro properties) and will play a part in the creation of the new Hasbro Universe, which is set to include a G.I. Joe reboot.

They plan to take "a millennial approach" to the new G.I. Joe, according to Hasbro's Simon Waters, who spoke to the Los Angeles Times about the importance of making the character contemporary. "The world has changed, and I think you're going to see G.I. Joe changing with it," he said. "There's going to be a much more contemporary approach to the whole franchise, and that will allow us to develop different characters." Films based on their ROM, Micronauts, Visionaries, and M.A.S.K. brands are all being touted.

Classic Princesses

Ever wanted to see the classic Disney princesses team up in an Avengers-style blockbuster epic? Well, thanks to screenwriter Nir Paniry, that dream is on its way to becoming a reality. A spec script written by Paniry entitled Princesses started making the rounds in early 2017, and by March studios were reportedly tripping over each other to buy it. Interestingly, it looks as though Disney didn't win the bidding war.

The princesses involved are thought to be those in the public domain, meaning any studio is free to make it, and in the end Amy Pascal wanted it most. According to Deadline, Pascal Productions hammered out a six-figure deal for the screenplay and were close to making it official as of April 2017.

A Tracking Board exclusive claims Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales director Joachim Rønning has been attached to the project and was the favorite to helm when Disney were considered to be in the running for the script. While nothing beyond the initial team-up movie is official at this stage, if Princesses proves a hit, you can guarantee that expansion into cinematic universe territory will be at the top of the agenda.

The Conjuring Universe

Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, director of The Conjuring films James Wan explained how he always hoped to expand the story of Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) beyond those movies. "When we made the first Conjuring, we always kind of quietly, jokingly, among ourselves, felt that the world of the Warrens, and all the interesting artifacts they have in their haunted room, could have their own stories and therefore spawn movies," he said. "We had hopes and aspirations but we never thought in our wildest dreams that we could actually go on and do it."

Turns out they could. Both Conjuring movies made over $100 million at the box office and were Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, meaning the expansion of the Warrens' world was not only possible, there was an appetite for it. 2014's Annabelle and its 2017 prequel Annabelle: Creation are part of this universe, and the next planned installment is The Nun, due out in 2018. This film, along with all that follow, will have "a different flavor," according to Wan.

"What we want to do with the Conjuring Universe is we want each of our little offshoots to have a very different flavor," he said. "So, for example, Annabelle is the classic sort-of haunted doll subgenre. I love the idea that, within the Conjuring Universe, each of our little movies all have their own flavor, so that way they don't feel like they're the same films."

The LEGO Movie Universe

When The LEGO Movie managed to pull in $470 million at the worldwide box office in 2014, a sequel was inevitable. What we got first was the LEGO Batman Movie spinoff, which seemed to be Warner Bros. testing the water to see how far they could take this LEGO thing. After raking in receipts of $311 million, they dived headfirst into plans for a cinematic universe, even if LEGO Batman Movie director Chris McKay was hesitant to call it that.

"Everyone says this, but for lack of a better phrase, there's a LEGO Cinematic Universe that we're building that has a sci-fi premise," he told EW. The sci-fi premise he's referring to is the existence of both the LEGO world and the human world within the movies, something we saw for the first time at the end of the first film. This was hinted at in LEGO Batman, when the existence of a giant void under Gotham is discussed, and McKay confirmed its meaning during the interview.

"I think over the course of the movies, we're building out the relationship between those [worlds]," he said. "There's no mandate necessarily to do that, but we are very actively working to find all of the rules and develop that relationship between the real world and the LEGO world. You'll start to see it in what we're doing with Ninjago and what we're doing in LEGO 2."

The Hanna-Barbera Universe

In 2016, news broke that Scooby-Doo and his ghost-hunting teenage owners Mystery Incorporated were returning to the big screen for the first time since 2004's Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. The film will be animated, and according to Variety, Warner Bros. wants two directors to tackle it, with the duo Tony Cervone (Space Jam) and Dax Shepard (CHiPS) reportedly in talks.

Talk of a shared Hanna-Barbera movie universe started gathering pace at Comic-Con 2016 after Slashfilm were given access to concept art that included a number of famous Hanna-Barbera characters. A sizzle reel played at the San Diego event also referred to the new Scooby-Doo film (which was going under the name S.C.O.O.B at the time) as the company's "first shot at unlocking the whole Hanna-Barbera Universe."

A September 2018 release date was announced, though that was recently pushed back by two years to May 2020. When they do get around to drawing up plans, they'll potentially have an abundance of famous 'toons to work with, including The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Jonny Quest, Top Cat, and Yogi Bear.

Netflix's Millarworld

August 7, 2017 marked an important day in the history of Netflix, with the streaming giant announcing the acquisition of comic book house Millarworld—a deal they deemed a "natural progression in the company's effort to work directly with prolific and skilled creators and to acquire intellectual property and ownership of stories featuring compelling characters and timeless, interwoven fictional worlds." If that doesn't scream cinematic universe, what does?

Millarworld was founded by Mark Millar, a former Marvel man who had a hand in the arcs that inspired the plots of The Avengers, Captain America: Civil War, and Logan movies. His work under the Millarworld banner includes Wanted, Kick-Ass, and Kingsman, which of course have already been adapted for the screen. That doesn't mean they're not part of Netflix's plans, however.

According to chief content officer Ted Sarandos, they plan on "creating new Netflix Originals from several existing franchises as well as new super-hero, anti-hero, fantasy, sci-fi and horror stories Mark and his team will continue to create and publish." Sarandos is clearly excited about working with Millar (he even went as far as calling him "as close as you can get to a modern day Stan Lee"), and the Scottish comic book scribe is equally happy about their arrangement. "This is only the third time in history a major comic book company has been purchased at this level," Millar said. "Netflix is the future and Millarworld couldn't have a better home."