The Mummy stays asleep at box office

Sofia Boutella stars in The Mummy.
Sofia Boutella stars in The Mummy.PHOTO: UNIVERSAL PICTURES

NEW YORK •Blame inexperienced director Alex Kurtzman for delivering a mess of a movie. Scratch that: Fault Universal for settling on a script that emphasised action over characters and campy fun. Actually, perhaps a baggage-laden Tom Cruise was the problem.

Whatever the reasons - some analysts also pointed to the continued strength of Wonder Woman, which stayed at No. 1 in its second weekend, collecting about US$57.2 million (S$79.2 million) - The Mummy got just US$32.2 million in North American ticket sales. That was a disappointing start for a film that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make and market and was supposed to stir excitement for Universal's coming cavalcade of monster-movie remakes.

The Mummy, to be followed by new versions of The Bride Of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man and The Creature From The Black Lagoon, among others, received abysmal reviews. Ticket buyers were similarly underwhelmed, according to CinemaScore exit polls.

Overseas, The Mummy did much better, taking in a sturdy US$141.8 million, according to comScore. Universal said China generated US$52.2 million in weekend ticket sales, a record for a movie starring Cruise.

Analysts say that overseas audiences, especially in countries where Hollywood has only recently made inroads, are less worn out by the continued revisiting of classic characters. Universal's previous Mummy series (1999, 2001, 2008) concluded less than a decade ago.

Universal is counting on its planned Dark Universe of monster movies to compete at the box office and bolster its theme parks. But a re-evaluation of the monster initiative's creative direction may now be necessary.

Other studios have overcome similar challenges. Warner's efforts to build an interconnected superhero "universe", for instance, got off to a weak start.

A shift in approach resulted in Wonder Woman, a runaway critical and commercial hit that has now taken in US$435 million globally.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2017, with the headline 'The Mummy stays asleep at box office'. Print Edition | Subscribe