It’s not entirely earth-shaking to proclaim that The Mummy is everything that’s wrong with contemporary mainstream movie-making, because it seems like you can make that pronouncement on a weekly basis now; nearly everything they’re doing is what they’re doing wrong. But there’s a real alignment of the stars happening here:
- Yet another remake of an exhaustively remade property.
- Reworked as a vehicle for an aging action star who hasn’t had a non-franchise hit in years.
- Incorporates incongruent action elements of that star’s other hits, so it will test and market better.
- Adopts a “screenwriting by committee” approach, with no less than six credited scribes.
- Directed by one of the people responsible for writing Transformers movies.
But most of all, The Mummy is intended as the launch of Universal’s “Dark Universe,” a Marvel/DC style extended-cinematic-universe thingy that resurrects the studio’s classic monster franchises and intersects them and makes everybody rich off existing Intellectual Properties, yay money! They were so confident that everyone was going to be into this that they even went ahead and announced more of the upcoming movies in their little Universe, and cut-and-pasted a picture of the franchise’s aging stars, dead-ass certain that The Mummy would be such a hit they needed to get those ducks in a row. Plus, we’d all be more likely to go see this one so we wouldn’t be left out of this awesome cinematic tentpole!
Except The Mummy came out last weekend, and it tanked at the domestic box office. Awk-waaaaard.
It wasn’t just a mild disappointment, either. The $125 million action/horror whatever opened at $32 million, far behind Wonder Woman’s second-week total of $57 million – and the 1999 Mummy’s $43 million. And The Mummy Returns’ $68 million. And The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor ’s $40 million. And The Scorpion King ’s $36 million. (That last one’s really gotta… sting. Ha ha ha ha ha ha.)
Soooooo what does this mean for that “Dark Universe” thing? They’re gonna have to just quietly pretend that didn’t happen, right? Like the way they made Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins and then that turned out to be the only Remo Williams movie?
Well, funny story: people go see movies in other countries too, and they love them some Tom Cruise Mummy movie. In fact, its $174 million worldwide opening makes it Cruise’s biggest first weekend ever, passing the $167.4 million for War of the Worlds more than a decade ago. (And it still hasn’t opened in France and Japan.)
So rest assured, there are enough people totally into this crass commercial enterprise that the “Dark Universe” will be just fine. And it doesn’t matter that we don’t want to see it; our theaters are merely a way station to its real audience.