The Mummy is a 2017 American action-adventure film directed by Alex Kurtzman and written by David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie, and Dylan Kussman, with a story by Kurtzman, Jon Spaihts, and Jenny Lumet. It is a reboot of The Mummy franchise and the first installment in Universal's Dark Universe. The film stars Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, and Russell Crowe.
The Mummy premiered at the State Theatre in Sydney, Australia on May 22, 2017, and was theatrically released in the United States on June 9, 2017, in 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D. It received negative reviews from critics though it grossed over $409 million worldwide.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Alex Kurtzman|
|Music by||Brian Tyler|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$409.1 million|
In 1127 A.D., several English crusader knights bury an Egyptian ruby within the tomb of one of their members. In present-day London, a construction crew discovers the tomb and a mysterious man is authorized to investigate the site. Ominous reporting on the news notes that people are not as far from important relics of the past as they realize.
In a flashback to the New Kingdom era, Princess Ahmanet is first in line to succeed her father Menehptre until his second wife gives birth to a son. Determined to claim the throne for herself, Ahmanet summons Set, who agrees to help her if she uses a mystical dagger known as the Dagger of Set to transfer his spirit into a corporeal form. After killing her family, Ahmanet attempts to sacrifice her lover to Set but is captured by her father's priests and condemned to be mummified alive for eternity. Her sarcophagus is buried in Mesopotamia and submerged in a pool of mercury so that her monstrous form will not escape.
In present-day Iraq, Sergeant Nick Morton and Corporal Chris Vail, while on Long Range Reconnaissance for the U.S. Army, discover the tomb of Ahmanet after calling in an airstrike on an insurgent stronghold. Jennifer Halsey, an archaeologist who had a one-night stand with Nick and had her map stolen by him, arrives and investigates the tomb, correctly concluding that it is a prison. After Nick extracts Ahmanet's sarcophagus from the pool of mercury, Nick's superior, Colonel Greenway, places it on a transport plane headed to England. During the flight, Vail becomes possessed by Ahmanet's power after being bitten by a camel spider while inside the tomb. After attempting to open the sarcophagus, he stabs Greenway and tries to attack the group, forcing Nick to kill him. A huge number of crows then assault the plane, causing it to crash and killing everyone on board except for Jennifer, who is parachuted off the plane by Nick.
Nick awakens a day later in a morgue in Oxford, discovering that he has been brought back to life by unknown means, and he learns from Vail's sardonic ghost that he has been cursed by Ahmanet, who seeks to use him as a replacement vessel for Set. Ahmanet's mummy escapes from the sarcophagus and begins feeding on rescue workers to regenerate her decomposed body. Turning the workers into zombie minions, she lures Nick and Jennifer into a trap, forcing the two to fight off the minions as they unsuccessfully try to escape.
Ahmanet also recovers the Dagger of Set from a reliquary in a nearby church. At the last moment, however, unknown soldiers appear and subdue Ahmanet. Their leader, Dr. Henry Jekyll, explains that Jennifer is an agent of Prodigium, a secret society dedicated to hunting supernatural threats. He reveals much of his own history and confirms that Nick was cursed when Ahmanet's tomb was opened. Although first welcoming Dr. Jekyll's help, Nick (as well as Jennifer) become horrified to discover the doctor's intention to complete the ritual, allowing Set to possess Nick completely, in the belief that this will render Set vulnerable and allow his evil to be ended forever.
Meanwhile, Ahmanet summons a spider to possess a Prodigium technician and frees herself from captivity, wreaking havoc, death, and destruction in the process. After verbally sparring with Nick, Jekyll succumbs to his own dark impulses and transforms into Edward Hyde, his murderous and psychotic alternate personality, even as Ahmanet wreaks havoc outside unbeknownst to them. Nick rebuffs the repulsive Hyde's offer of an alliance between them, and Hyde attacks him. However, Nick manages to stop him with the serum Jekyll uses to suppress his evil side. He and Jennifer then escape from Prodigium, but they run into Ahmanet once again. She steals back the dagger, summons an army of deceased English crusaders to serve her, and creates a massive sandstorm that ravages London, with Nick and Jennifer narrowly escaping her grasp. The undead knights slaughter the Prodigium soldiers in the tomb discovered during the film's opening, and Ahmanet finally recovers the ruby and places it in the dagger's pommel, granting her all that she needs to free Set aside from Nick himself.
Guided by the spectral Vail, Nick and Jennifer flee into the London Underground tunnels, but it is revealed that Vail is still under Ahmanet's control and they are soon attacked by Ahmanet's minions. Ahmanet captures Jennifer and drowns her, hoping to break her hold over Nick. Nick puts up a determined fight, but he gives up and lets himself embrace Ahmanet, using it as a ruse to steal the dagger and shatter the ruby. However, he sees the lifeless Jennifer and bets on stabbing himself. His body is partially possessed by Set, who proceeds to join Ahmanet to uphold his end of the bargain. However, looking back at Jennifer's dead body, Nick regains control, using Set's powers to overpower and suck the life out of Ahmanet. With her transformed back into a shriveled mummy, Nick then harnesses Set's powers to resurrect Jennifer, saying goodbye before becoming overwhelmed by Set's nature and disappearing. Soon, Jennifer regroups with Dr. Jekyll, and they tensely discuss if Nick, now fused with Set in an uncertain way, will use his powers for good, evil, or something else entirely. Ahmanet's corpse is lowered into a locked pool of mercury within the Prodigium base for safekeeping. Later on in the desert, Nick resurrects Vail, and the two set out on a new adventure.
Javier Botet plays Set, the ancient Egyptian god of deserts, storms, darkness, and violence, who aids Princess Ahmanet in her quest to rule Egypt. Set has a connection with Nick Morton, as the latter is intended to be the human vessel for his resurrection.
Universal Pictures first announced plans for a modern reboot of The Mummy franchise in 2012. The project went through multiple directors, with Len Wiseman leaving the project in 2013, and a second director, Andrés Muschietti, in 2014.
Tom Cruise began talks about playing the lead in November 2015, with Sofia Boutella beginning talks that December. Kurtzman cast Boutella after seeing and being impressed by her largely mute performance in Kingsman: The Secret Service. Kurtzman noted that "if you look at her eyes, and this is what I got from watching Kingsman, there's a whole performance going on here. And in not saying anything but conveying that much to me, I thought oh my god, no matter how much prosthetics we put on her, no matter how much CG we put on her face, if I see this, she's going to convey something very emotional to me." Other casting news was announced between March and May, with Russell Crowe joining during the latter month. Shortly after the film opened, Variety reported that Cruise had excessive control over the film and firm control of nearly every aspect of production and post-production, including re-writing the script and editing to his specifications, telling Kurtzman how to direct on set, and enlarging his role while downplaying Boutella's. Universal contractually guaranteed Cruise control of most aspects of the project, from script approval to post-production decisions.
Principal photography on the film began on April 3, 2016, in Oxford, United Kingdom, and also took place in Surrey. Filming on the movie wrapped on July 17, 2016, in London. Production then moved to Namibia for two weeks, with principal photography on the film being completed on August 13, 2016.
For the filming of the plane crash the production made use of The Vomit Comet and parabolic flight to simulate the illusion of weightlessness. The crew did a total of 64 takes with many of the crew becoming sick to their stomachs. Initially Kurtzman planned to shoot the scene entirely using wires and a rotating set, however Cruise's insistence changed his mind.
Composer Brian Tyler started work on the music for the movie early, writing about a half hour of music before filming even began. Working on the film for a year and half, Tyler recorded with an 84-piece orchestra and 32-voice choir at London’s Abbey Road. He ultimately wrote and recorded over two hours of music, which, given the length of the film (107 minutes), resulted in a soundtrack album longer than the film itself.
Initially scheduled for a 2016 release, the film was released in the United States and Canada on June 9, 2017, with international roll out beginning the same day. The film was screened in various formats, such as 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D.
On December 20, 2016, IMAX released a trailer with the wrong audio track attached; this unintentionally prompted the creation of memes and video montages featuring the mistakenly included audio track, which was missing most of the sound effects and instead featured Tom Cruise's grunts and screams. IMAX reacted by taking down the trailer and issuing DMCA takedown notices in an attempt to stop it from spreading.
A video game based on the film, The Mummy Demastered, was released on October 24, 2017. It is a Metroidvania featuring a stand-alone story, which takes place concurrently with the events of the film and follows Prodigium soldiers under the command of Dr. Jekyll who fight the forces of Princess Ahmanet; unlike the film, it received positive reviews.
The Mummy grossed $80.1 million in the United States and Canada and $329 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $409.1 million, against a combined production and advertising budget of around $345 million. The film had a worldwide opening of $172.4 million, the biggest global debut of Tom Cruise's career.
In North America, the film was released alongside It Comes at Night and Megan Leavey, and was originally projected to gross $35–40 million from 4,034 theaters in its opening weekend. However after making $12 million on its first day (including $2.66 million from Thursday night previews), weekend projections were lowered to $30 million. It ended up debuting to $31.7 million, marking the lowest of the Mummy franchise and finishing second at the box office behind Wonder Woman ($58.2 million in its second week). Deadline.com attributed the film's underperformance to poor critic and audience reactions, as well as "blockbuster fatigue." In its second weekend the film made $14.5 million (dropping 54.2%), finishing 4th at the box office. The same week, Deadline reported that the film is expected to lose Universal around $95 million in an estimated 375 million worldwide gross. It was pulled from 827 theaters in its third week and made $5.8 million, dropping another 60% and finishing 6th at the box office.
Outside North America, the film opened in 63 overseas territories, with China, the UK, Mexico, Germany, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and Russia receiving the film the same day as in North America, and was projected to debut to $125–135 million. It opened on June 6, 2017 in South Korea and grossed $6.6 million on its first day, the biggest-ever debut for both Tom Cruise and Universal in the country. It ended up having a foreign debut of $140.7 million, the biggest of Cruise's career. In its opening weekend the film made $52.4 million in China, $7.4 million in Russia, $4.9 million in Mexico and $4.2 million in the United Kingdom. As of July 9, 2017, The film other big markets are China ($91.5 million), South Korea ($26.2 million), Russia and the CIS ($15.9 million) and Brazil ($13.2 million).
The Mummy received generally negative reviews from critics, with criticism aimed at its incoherent narrative, inconsistent tone, sub-par acting, and shoehorned plot points setting up the Dark Universe. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 16% based on 246 reviews, with an average rating of 4.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Lacking the campy fun of the franchise's most recent entries and failing to deliver many monster-movie thrills, The Mummy suggests a speedy unraveling for the Dark Universe." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 34 out of 100 based on 44 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B−" on an A+ to F scale.
Vince Mancini of Uproxx gave the film a negative review, writing: "If you like incomprehensible collections of things that vaguely resemble other things you might've enjoyed in the past, The Mummy is the movie for you." IndieWire's David Ehrlich gave the film a D-, calling it the worst film of Cruise's career and criticizing its lack of originality, saying: "It's one thing to excavate the iconography of old Hollywood, it's another to exploit it. This isn't filmmaking, it's tomb-raiding."
Owen Gleiberman of Variety wrote: "The problem at its heart is that the reality of what the movie is—a Tom Cruise vehicle—is at war with the material. The actor, at 54, is still playing that old Cruise trope, the selfish cocky semi-scoundrel who has to grow up. ... The trouble is that Cruise, at least in a high-powered potboiler like this one, is so devoted to maintaining his image as a clear and wholesome hero that his flirtation with the dark side is almost entirely theoretical." Writing for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers gave the film one star out of four, saying: "How meh is The Mummy? Let me count the ways. For all the huffing and puffing and digital desperation from overworked computers, this reboot lands onscreen with a resounding thud."
Glen Kenny of RogerEbert.com gave the film 1.5/4 stars, writing:
I found something almost admirable about the film's cheek. It's amazingly relentless in its naked borrowing from other, better horror and sci-fi movies that I was able to keep occupied making a checklist of the movies referenced. Entertainment Weekly's Chis Nashawaty wrote that the film "feels derivative and unnecessary and like it was written by committee."
In BBC World News Culture, Nicholas Barber calls the film "a mish-mash of wildly varying tones and plot strands, from its convoluted beginning to its shameless non-end. Tom Cruise's new film barely qualifies as a film at all. None of it makes sense. The film delivers all the chases, explosions, zombies and ghosts you could ask for, and there are a few amusing lines and creepy moments, but, between the headache-inducing flashbacks and hallucinations, the narrative would be easier to follow if it were written in hieroglyphics."
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian wrote that the film "has some nice moments but is basically a mess. The plot sags like an aeon-old decaying limb, a jumble of ideas and scenes from what look like different screenplay drafts." Empire film magazine was more positive, with Dan Jolin awarding the film three stars. "It's running and jumping grin-flashing business as usual for Cruise, once more on safe character territory as an Ethan Hunt-esque action protagonist who couples up with a much younger woman, while another woman chases after him," he wrote. "And if the next installment-teasing conclusion is anything to go by, Cruise seemed to have enough fun making this that he may just return for more."
The film is part of the Universal Pictures' "Dark Universe", an attempt to create a modern cinematic universe based on the classic Universal Monsters film series. A remake of Bride of Frankenstein was originally scheduled for release on February 14, 2019 with Bill Condon as director, but on October 5, 2017, Universal decided to postpone it to allow more work to be done on the script. Javier Bardem and Angelina Jolie were in talks to portray the monster and his bride. The 2014 film Dracula Untold, starring Luke Evans as the titular character, was originally considered to be the first film in the series; however, since the film's release, the connection to Dark Universe was downplayed, and The Mummy was re-positioned as the first film in the series.
On November 8, 2017, Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan moved on to other projects, leaving the future of the Dark Universe in doubt.