“We are so proud of the team of Australian filmmakers, led by writer-director Leigh Whannell, who came together to make a highly commercial film that has shown appeal around the world,” said Universal Pictures Australian managing director Mike Baard.
“It is a timely reminder that it is possible for our local industry to tell stories with universal appeal and to craft them with such skill.”
Made on a budget believed to be around $US9 million ($14 million), The Invisible Man took $US29 million in North America and an additional $US20.2 million in foreign territories, including $2.52 million in Australia. In the US, it displaced Sonic The Hedgehog from top spot.
Whannell, who co-created the Saw and Insidious franchises with fellow RMIT alumnus James Wan, has never abandoned his Australian roots despite enjoying enormous success in the US.
In 2018, he made the inventive sci-fi action thriller Upgrade in Melbourne. Last year he reteamed with the producers of that film, Sydney-based Goalpost Pictures and Hollywood horror specialists Blumhouse, to make his feminist update of H.G. Wells’ sci-fi classic at Fox Studios.
Last week, Whannell signed a two-year deal with Blumhouse to develop new works for film and television.
“Leigh creates movies which not only build franchises but fundamentally change the landscape of their genre,” Blumhouse’s Jason Blum said in a statement announcing the deal on the weekend.
The Invisible Man sits within what is known as the Universal Monsterverse, a loose grouping of characters that includes Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, the Wolf Man and others. Attempts to revive this catalogue of characters, many of whom date back to the 1920s, have met with limited success.
Although Whannell has recently stated that his film is not part of any cinematic universe, it ends in such a way that you’d have to be blind not to see the potential for a franchise, or a sequel at the very least.
Karl Quinn is a senior culture writer at The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.