cruise kurtzman

Think Smaller and Hire a Director With Vision

Does anyone know why any of the proposed Dark Universe films need to be constructed as big budget blockbusters? Universal is drawing on their classic monsters here, characters who inhabited dark black and white films about tragedy and death. What is the appeal in transporting them into Transformers-style action flicks?

If Universal is counting on brand recognition, they’re showing a complete lack of understanding of that brand. Anyone who counts themselves a fan of Universal’s classic monsters likely wasn’t clamoring to see these characters engage in slow-motion smack-downs while a cavalcade of CGI swirls around them.

There’s no reason to shy away from the horror elements of these films. Early in production, Russell Crowe, who plays Dr. Jekyll (why?) in the film, claimed that The Mummy was being “designed to seriously scare the s– out of you.” Perhaps he was referring to the original script before Cruise brought in his own writers, Christopher McQuarrie and Dylan Kussman, to punch things up. The film as it exists now isn’t even close to resembling horror, despite the fact that horror has constantly over-performs at the box office.

Jordan Peele’s Get Out, which Universal distributed, grossed $250.2 million worldwide on a production budget of $4.5 million. If Universal had gone smaller with The Mummy and crafted a lower-budgeted horror show, they might be singing a different tune today. The film could’ve easily recouped costs and actually been good in the process.

Get Out was something of a risk because at the time Jordan Peele was untested as a filmmaker. Yet he was clearly a director with a vision, and that makes all the difference. Studios frequently hire untested or indie directors to helm their big projects as a power move – it’s much easier to push around an untested filmmaker than one with clout. But the films that end up being successful are often helmed by a director with some semblance of vision. The Mummy is helmed by Alex Kurtzman, who only has one other directorial credit to his name, the forgotten People Like Us. From the look of The Mummy, Kurtzman has absolutely no discernible style of his own. He merely points and shoots, robbing the film of any personality. Surely there were better filmmakers to entrust with the origin of a cinematic universe.

sofie boutella mummy

Hey, Maybe None of This Matters!

Now it’s time for the blunt honest truth: maybe none of this even matters! As THR reports, The Mummy may not be doing well in the United States, but it’s cleaning-up overseas: “While the Tom Cruise starrer might be lagging in the U.S., it continues to do solid business overseas, where it won the weekend with $53 million from 68 markets for a foreign total of $239.1 million and global cume of $295.6 million.”

International box office plays a large part in studios recouping a film’s budget, and there’s a good chance numbers like this will ensure that Universal plows ahead with their Dark Universe, negative reviews be damned. Besides, what do poor reviews matter when filmmakers leap to defend their inferior product by claiming they “made it for the fans”? “This is a movie that I think is made for audiences,” Kurtzman told Business Insider,  “and in my experience, critics and audiences don’t always sing the same song.” The “made for fans, not critics” defense is beyond laughable, because by their very nature, film critics are movie fans. That’s the entire reason they got into the extremely unlucrative film critic game to begin with. Yet time and time again, filmmakers or actors will trot out this defense, and more often than not, hardcore fans will buy into it.

There’s always a chance, though. Maybe Universal will learn from their Mummy mistakes. Maybe. Maybe when Bride of Frankenstein is about to hit theaters, producers will sit down for interviews and claim they’ve learned the error of their ways and have done their absolute best to listen to audiences and course-correct. And maybe after they say that, we’ll all see they’re completely full of it, and the film will be just as disastrous as The Mummy. Maybe in the end, we’re cursed to suffer through more and more unimaginative, dull blockbusters that bore more than they excite.

That’s a fate far scarier than any undead creature.

Pages: Previous page 1 2

Cool Posts From Around the Web: