The Mummy, Universal and Alex Kurtzman’s star-studded reboot that hit theatres this week, is hoping to kick off a brand new franchise for the studio. Its name? Dark Universe, an interwoven collection of creature features that will, through time, bring together the likes of The Invisible Man and Frankenstein’s Monster, among others. Dead Men Tell No Tales duo Johnny Depp and Javier Bardem will play each of those iconic monsters, respectively, but in the case of The Mummy, Kingsman breakout Sofia Boutella has been crowned Princess Ahmanet.
Once in line to become a Pharaoh, Boutella’s goddess is robbed of her right to rule by her deceitful father and buried alive within the catacombs of Egypt. Fast forward to the present day and it’s Tom Cruise’s military man Nick Morton who stumbles upon said crypt, before accidentally unleashing an otherworldly terror of biblical proportions. While that plot synopsis paints a fairly thrilling and exciting picture, the film itself is a whole different story.
Panned by critics across the board, The Mummy has been met with a pretty negative reception during its first week in release. That hasn’t deterred Kurtzman though, who spoke with The Hollywood Reporter recently about the weak reviews and noted that they shouldn’t affect the future of the franchise.
“I think that variety is going to be our good friend when it comes to the evolution of Dark Universe. You obviously want to set a somewhat consistent tone, so that people know what to expect when you see these movies, but it would be ideal for each movie to have its own identity, which is largely going to be dependent on who is directing the films and who is starring in the films. I’m really excited to see what Bill Condon does with Bride of Frankenstein.”
“This is a guy who did Gods and Monsters, which is one of my favorite films ever. He uniquely understands James Whale and what those monsters represent and Frankenstein’s Bride. I want it to feel like a Bill Condon movie. As an audience member that’s what I would want, and I would apply that to all of our films.”
The director doesn’t seem too worried then, and has high hopes for future entries into the Dark Universe, seeming confident that Universal’s plans won’t be derailed. And honestly, he’s probably right. Even despite the terrible reviews, The Mummy is still doing fairly well for itself, with analysts predicting a worldwide haul of $169 million this weekend.
So, while it may have stumbled a bit in North America, it seems to be going over better in international markets and should be able to make enough money back to justify pushing ahead with the Dark Universe. Whether the next entries into the franchise fare better with critics remain to be seen, but the studio’s plans sound exciting enough that we’re willing to give them another shot.
After all, it took the DCEU a few tries to get it right before eventually hitting a home run with Wonder Woman, so perhaps Universal will use The Mummy as a learning experience for Bride of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, Dracula and all the other monster flick they’ve got planned. Time will tell, but for now, we remain on board.