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Thread: Kurtzman and Orci to Reimagine Van Helsing and The Mummy

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    Default Kurtzman and Orci to Reimagine Van Helsing and The Mummy


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    Senior Member Ed Fuego's Avatar
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    Not sure we need a reboot/reimagining of either of them (I thought the Mummy movies were pretty good; didn't see Van Helsing) but I like the writers.

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    Default Re: Kurtzman and Orci to Reimagine Van Helsing and The Mummy

    Poor Stephen Sommers...kicked from the "G.I. Joe" sequel and now they're "re-imagining" two of his most famous movies. As for Orci and Kurtzman, I'm happy for them. Clearly, "Transformers" opened a lot of doors and I'm glad to see them working on other big-budget projects.

    Still, Sommers's "Mummy" was, in my view, a damn good action movie (with a great Indiana Jones-style atmosphere and humor) and it's gonna be tough to top it.
    "You know why the departures and the arrivals at LAX are on separate levels? So the 30,000 heartbreakers that come here each month don't notice the 30,000 that are leaving with their hearts broken."

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    Senior Member Michael Do's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kurtzman and Orci to Reimagine Van Helsing and The Mummy

    The Mummy 1 and 2 was one of my favorite. I would like to see this new take of the franchise.
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    Default Re: Kurtzman and Orci to Reimagine Van Helsing and The Mummy

    Hmm strange, a few weeks ago it was announced that the Prometheus screenwriter Jon Spaihts will write the Mummy reboot. Obviously something went wrong. Nevertheless the first Mummy was absolutely brilliant and I can't wait to see what Orci and Kurtzman would do. They are pretty good writers.
    About Van Helsing - Tom Cruise is starring and producing. This doesn't sound good.

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    Senior Member r-type's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kurtzman and Orci to Reimagine Van Helsing and The Mummy

    Quote Originally Posted by Albershide View Post
    Hmm strange, a few weeks ago it was announced that the Prometheus screenwriter Jon Spaihts will write the Mummy reboot. Obviously something went wrong.
    Quote from the article:

    Kurtzman and Orci’s K/O Paper Products will develop and produce a modern reimagining of Universal library titles including The Mummy, alongside producer Sean Daniel and writer Jon Spaihts.


    On Sommers: Love Mummy 1&2. Van Helsing (2004)? Eh, I got over my expectations of it (at the time) and enjoy it these days for what it is. GI Joe, not so much.


    On Bob and Alex's stuff: Technically they're going to be re-imagining of re-imaginings aren't they? Just an observation and not a knock, I like the Universal monsters, looking forward to seeing where they go with it.

    As long as they don't go all Scorpion King 3 on us....

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    Default Re: Kurtzman and Orci to Reimagine Van Helsing and The Mummy

    Quote Originally Posted by r-type View Post
    Quote from the article:
    My bad.

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    Default Re: Kurtzman and Morgan to Reimagine Van Helsing and The Mummy

    Screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan to Create Crossover Universe for UNIVERSAL MONSTERS Starting with THE MUMMY

    Universal Taps Alex Kurtzman, Chris Morgan To Relaunch Classic Movie Monster Franchises
    Quote Originally Posted by MIKE FLEMING JR

    EXCLUSIVE:
    In recent years Universal Pictures has become defined by its The Fast And The Furious, Despicable Me, Bourne and Jurassic Park franchises. But the studio’s most enduring legacy is its library of classic movie monsters that include Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man, Creature Of The Black Lagoon, The Invisible Man, Bride Of Frankenstein, and The Mummy. Universal is now dedicating renewed resources and an unprecedented, far-reaching commitment to revitalize its monster heritage.

    The studio is in early stages of developing a substantial new production endeavor that will expand and unify a network of classic characters and stories. The architects of that narrative will be Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan. Kurtzman recently broke with partner Roberto Orci, but his big-scale projects have included Transformers, Star Trek and The Amazing Spider-Man. Morgan is the writer behind five installments of The Fast And The Furious, which has been Universal’s most reliably lucrative franchise. It’s not set in stone yet if either will write, but they will soon be going around town enlisting talent to bring new cinematic life to these enduring characters from lore, literature and Universal’s own library. While Universal has selectively tapped its Movie Monster library for The Mummy, Van Helsing, The Wolfman, and the upcoming Dracula Untold, this will be the first time that the studio has formalized an approach to these classic characters in a cohesive, connected way rather than as a series of stand-alone projects by disparate filmmaking teams.

    They’ve begun the meetings to put together an interconnected slate of Monster films, and the first will be a reboot of The Mummy, which will be released April 22, 2016. Part of their duty will be to work closely with production, marketing, promotions and consumer product to support the revival. They will also reevaluate projects which have preexisting attachments, and bring it under one cohesive strategy.

    While some of those monster pictures haven’t panned out, this seems like a smart move. If Marvel Studios and Disney can build a billion-dollar business relying on the Marvel Comics superhero character library, why shouldn’t Universal redouble its efforts to dust off and modernize the classic movie monsters that inspired many of the movie monsters we see today?

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    Default Re: Kurtzman and Orci to Reimagine Van Helsing and The Mummy

    Universal Monster Shared Universe Movie Set for Spring 2017 Release
    Van Helsing is a strong possibility for the 2017 date

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    Default Re: Kurtzman and Orci to Reimagine Van Helsing and The Mummy

    Tom Cruise’s ‘The Mummy’ Gets New Release Date
    Now that Tom Cruise has officially signed on, Universal has set a new release date for its reboot of “The Mummy”: the film will bow on June 9, 2017.

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    Default Re: Kurtzman and Orci to Reimagine Van Helsing and The Mummy

    ‘Van Helsing’ Co-Writer Eric Heisserer Teases His Explicitly Non-Superhero Take on the Character
    "I don’t like the idea that we’re infusing our public and our pop culture with the idea that only super people can solve the world’s problems. I like the idea of the everyday hero stepping up to the plate and getting things fixed.”

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    Default Re: Kurtzman and Orci to Reimagine Van Helsing and The Mummy


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    Default Re: Kurtzman and Orci to Reimagine Van Helsing and The Mummy

    SPOILERS




    'The Mummy': What the Critics Are Saying
    The first reviews for Alex Kurtzman's The Mummy are in, and it's not looking good for the Tom Cruise-starrer.




    REVIEW: THE MUMMY
    This may well be the worst film Cruise has ever done.

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    Default Tom Cruise is The Bride of Frankenstein!

    AICN:
    After hitting a Billion on BEAUTY & THE BEAST, Bill Condon proposes THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN next!


    Producer Alex Kurtzman Teases ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ and the Bride’s “Independence”
    One of the overseers of Dark Universe provides a hint at what we might get from ‘Bride of Frankenstein’.
    Quote Originally Posted by MATT GOLDBERG
    Steve Weintraub recently spoke with producer Alex Kurtzman about the film while doing press for Kurtzman’s new film, The Mummy, and here’s what he had to say:


    “David Koepp wrote the script. It’s really good. If you look at the original Bride, it’s one of the weirdest movies ever made. It’s truly a strange movie, and the Bride doesn’t appear until the end of the film, and she’s been built to be Frankenstein’s mate and takes one look at him and rejects him immediately. He gets so angry, he pulls a lever and the building explodes and that’s the end of the movie, and you’re like, “I have no idea what just happened, but it was amazing!” It’s fascinating to me that as a character with no dialogue for generation after generation after generation has been remembered. And I think she’s been remembered for her defiance and remembered for independence. She’s certainly been remembered for her iconic look. And I love that and I think Bill is going to do something amazing with that.”


    It seems that the idea with Bride is to take her few moments on screen and try to expand that into a character centered on “defiance” and “independence.” We still don’t know what the plot will entail, but at least there’s a clear idea of the central character taking shape. While I adore James Whale’s original movie, I definitely think there’s room for a remake in terms of exploring the character in a way that hasn’t been done before. Whereas the producers behind Dark Universe will have to strain to find new takes on the Mummy, Dracula, and Frankenstein, there’s lots of open road when it comes to the Bride of Frankenstein.

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    Senior Member Gabriel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kurtzman and Orci to Reimagine Van Helsing and The Mummy

    THR Weekend Box Office: 'Wonder Woman' Crushing 'The Mummy'
    The film cost $125 million to make after tax rebates.
    Quote Originally Posted by Pamela McClintock & Rebecca Ford
    The reboot — the first title in the studio's new monsters-themed Dark Universe — is projected to gross $11 million or so Friday, including $2.6 million in Thursday previews, for a dismal $30 million to $32 million domestic debut. The Mummy is off to a stronger start internationally.

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    Default Re: Kurtzman and Orci to Reimagine Van Helsing and The Mummy

    Bart & Fleming: ‘The Mummy’s Franchise Fail & 21st Century’s Top Films So Far
    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Bart and Mike Fleming Jr.


    FLEMING: What is the long-term takeaway of the failure of Pirates Of The Caribbean and now The Mummy to incite any excitement among moviegoers, Peter? Maybe we need to wait for the next Transformers to be sure, but I would say that these committee-formulated summer studio franchises are facing what many felt was inevitable: they are hitting the wall, hard. So is the star system. Remember when a superstar’s presence could guarantee a big U.S. opening weekend?


    BART: In “studio speak,” franchises are out and universes are in, in terms of production initiatives. Yet it’s hard to remember a moment when an initiative has met with as much skepticism as Universal’s Dark Universe line of genre movies (already dubbed “dim universe” by the New York Times). And the critical drubbing accorded The Mummy has turned up the noise.


    FLEMING: Universal Pictures must have felt like its charmed franchise run would continue forever, with The Mummy sandwiched between the $1.2 billion-grossing The Fate Of The Furious and the upcoming Despicable Me 3. But this Mummy felt as stale as the lining of a sarcophagus; it had to be the studio’s most disappointing attempted franchise launch since Battleship. The stakes here are enormous for the studio. Universal signed big established stars for classic movie monster resuscitating, from Frankenstein to Bride Of Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolf Man, Dr Jekyll And Mr. Hyde, The Invisible Man and The Creature From The Black Lagoon. I have never understood the enthusiasm, even when Guillermo del Toro explained it to me when he was entrusted with many of those properties. He said the classic literature origins were so indelible that there was plenty a filmmaker could to do to engage today’s audiences. To me, they all seem like slow-moving, dust-covered B&W relics locked in an era that has no relevance. I quite liked the last Mummy iteration, the playful Stephen Sommers-Brendan Fraser-Rachel Weisz films that spawned a theme park ride and launched Dwayne Johnson (who is now mentioned as a potential Wolf Man). Those Mummy movies borrowed the Indiana Jones romance model. What did the new Alex Kurtzman-directed iteration have, besides a game Tom Cruise? They could have made it scary, with a terrifying villain and ominous mummy henchmen. But it wasn’t that, at all. It wasn’t really a romance, either: we’re told early that Cruise’s character spent a night with Annabelle Wallis’s archaeologist and pissed her off by stealing a map. There were no onscreen sparks between them. Kurtzman could have made Sofia Boutella’s title character an exotic Cleopatra-like seductress — Boutella is capable of that, as evidenced by the Atomic Blonde trailer and her performances in Kingsmen and even last summer’s Star Trek. Then you could have understood why Cruise’s character would fall under her spell and why a future of immortality with her would be appealing. Instead, they made her an annoying, decaying, half-formed mess with tattooed symbols that made her look like the wife of the lead character in Memento. That left us with a bunch of pricey set pieces that could not compensate for the lack of real characters or tension or genuine scares. This launch of the Monsters line goes down as disappointing even if it covers its costs overseas the way that DC’s Batman V Superman did. Universal still has to convince us that, in an era where audiences are scared by terrific grounded fright films like Get Out, Split and Don’t Breathe or TV shows like The Walking Dead, that these monsters old enough to be public domain literary properties do likewise.


    BART: I thought The Mummy was on its way to being an entertaining horror picture in its first hour. Then I could hear the studio shouting, ‘we have Tom Cruise; ‘let’s up the budget and the pyrotechnics.’ At that point, the movie began to spin out of control. It’s a mess. And it does not auger well for Universal’s future line-up of star-laden horror films like Bride of Frankenstein or The Invisible Man (Johnny Depp will be invisible).


    FLEMING: Is it possible to breathe life into these musty old monsters? Even though the lack of humor and subtlety in his DC movies like Batman V Superman troubled me, Zack Snyder launched his career with a remake of Dawn of the Dead. Going in, I wondered: how can you make George Romero’s slow moving corpses seem menacing? The movie opened with Sarah Polley running from a zombie that just killed her husband. This corpse chased her like Usain Bolt running the 100 yard dash. That put me on the edge of my chair. Universal execs have done an exceptional job casting its Monster Universe: Javier Bardem for Frankenstein, Depp for Invisible Man, maybe Angelina Jolie for Bride of Frankenstein and possibly crying wolf with Johnson. But the formulaic pollination we see with Marvel and DC films won’t work here. Each of these movies better be scary as hell, or bear some stylistic genre signature all their own. If they are going to follow with Russell Crowe’s Doctor Jekyll (he debuted the character in The Mummy), use that actor’s estimable gifts of intensity and intimidation and physicality to make him the most terrifying sociopath since Hannibal Lecter. That would mean a better-drawn character than I saw last weekend, where Jekyll’s Hyde persona could be eradicated like the measles, with an inoculation.


    BART: I’d go back to the drawing board and trace the problems of The Mummy. Let’s begin with the cast and the question: Do horror pictures need movie stars, or vice versa? Tom Cruise has been a star for almost forty years and I agree with Joe Morgenstern of The Wall St Journal that this is his worst role, spending most of the movie “getting beat up by an infestation of digital mummies.” Nor does the movie need him or Crowe, intoning pseudo-scientific nonsense as Dr. Jekyll (characters are tossed in just to set up further movies).


    FLEMING: They might not be worthy of first dollar gross deals, but I like seeing stars. I enjoyed Crowe in The Nice Guys and like seeing him lend his commanding presence to populist fare like this, and I have been a fan of Cruise since Risky Business. The Mummy has prompted cynics to declare that Cruise is over. He isn’t, of course but the star system is, save for maybe Denzel Washington and Leonardo DiCaprio. Maybe it’s their careful selection process that has made them exceptions: Washington’s making his first ever sequel, The Equalizer. Like John Wick and Sicario, The Equalizer was a one-off that left audiences wanting more, which was how franchises like Die Hard and The Terminator got built. DiCaprio’s eyeing his own serial killer turn, but his will be the real life ghoulish doctor who terrorized the Chicago World’s Fair, with Martin Scorsese likely directing The Devil in the White City. There is no franchise there, but that seems more interesting to me than the umpteenth incarnation of Dr Jekyll.


    I’m not sure why Cruise felt he needed another franchise, with Mission: Impossible in good standing, and I’m not sure what this means for a Top Gun sequel more than three decades after a hit that bore Tony Scott’s stylistic directorial imprint and came during the gung-ho Ronald Reagan presidency. Are global audiences going to line up for an homage to macho U.S. military might when Donald Trump is alienating both allies and enemies on Twitter, or will they have to minimize the Red White and Blue as was done with Wonder Woman? Cruise is still the longest running superstar act in Hollywood, and I know he likes barnstorming the world to promote his big movies. I recall him telling me that, growing up poor, he dreamed of visiting the countries he saw in movies, and petitioned studios to let him travel abroad doing press tours, so he could see these places. Believe it or not, he said studios fought him at first, when the priority was domestic receipts and video, and not foreign. His curiosity birthed the template of stars globally promoting their films, and he has never stopped tirelessly promoting his films like that. He made a mistake here, I think. But The Mummy was preceded by a trailer for American Made, the fact based drama where Cruise plays a pilot who flew drugs and weapons for the CIA and found himself up to his eyeballs with the likes of Manuel Noriego and Pablo Escobar, and all the danger that implies. That’s a Tom Cruise movie I want to see.


    BART: At 54, Cruise faces issues similar to those of Brad Pitt and George Clooney, but he’s not handling them as well, committing himself to junk genres while his confreres are tackling quality projects. I miss the Cruise of Jerry Maguire and Rain Man and even Tropic Thunder. As for the studios, they’re not helping. Warner Bros is re-inventing its DC Universe and Sony its The Dark Tower universe based on Stephen King novels. But they’re all about high concepts, not character concepts; movie stars would do well to forage elsewhere in the intellectual property universe to keep their careers alive.


    FLEMING: You are wrong, I hope, on The Dark Tower; excepting the Magnificent Seven remake and Blazing Saddles, how often do you see a Western franchise anchored by a black actor playing the lead gunslinger? This could be a breath of fresh air this summer. You always knock Clooney in these columns, but bringing him up allows me to establish the difference in this discussion. Clooney stopped chasing franchises after his Batman foray. Whether his movies work or not, his motives are purer and it has led to a great career not about making the most money possible. He empowered Gravity when it teetered after Robert Downey Jr dropped out and other male stars didn’t want to spend 15 minutes of screen time propping up Sandra Bullock. There is Syriana, Michael Clayton and Good Night and Good Luck. Clooney misfired in Tomorrowland, but you can’t fault an actor for buying into the vision of a great director like Brad Bird, much as you can’t fault Idris Elba’s The Dark Tower costar Matthew McConaughey for doing the same on Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar.


    BART: You leaped so quickly to George’s defense that I wonder what gift you sent for his newborn twins. What I was trying to do is illustrate a Cruise conundrum: other male stars like Clooney, Pitt and Washington are aging and becoming more interesting to watch. Cruise looks the same as he did 20 or 30 years ago.


    FLEMING: When we talk about actors setting up franchises they don’t really need, I’ll be curious to see how Downey and Stephen Gaghan do with Dr. Dolittle. I guess the idea is to replace Iron Man, but to me it’s another idea that feels like a head scratcher because it has been again and again. Meanwhile, I just saw Baby Driver, this Edgar Wright-directed heist picture. After seeing Pirates and The Mummy, I was struck by the exhilaration of sitting in a theater, watching a well told story with distinctive characters and visual style and not knowing where it was all going. Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx playing deliciously awful people around this adorable getaway driver played by The Fault In Our Stars‘ Ansel Elgort. I hate to see studios lose money, but maybe they need to be reminded that sequels aren’t like Amazon stock certificates.


    BART: I felt the same way, seeing The Big Sick.


    FLEMING: People want to be surprised. The people at Universal are smart and I’m sure they’ll figure out how to hone the monster formula they’re so invested in, as Warner Bros brass did with Wonder Woman.


    BART: In terms of movie archaeology, The Mummy became an instant ruin not only because of the critics but also because of Wonder Woman, which is a lot more fun to experience and which opened to $220 million worldwide (it held up well in its second weekend). Patty Jenkins won high plaudits for directing her super-heroine – ironically her first hit was titled Monster, starring Charlize Theron, but Jenkins was smart enough to steer clear of further monster movies.


    FLEMING: My takeaway there is how unpredictable the movie business is, and how satisfying when things fall into place. After Jenkins guided Theron to her Best Actress Oscar playing the serial killer drama in Monster, how could it possibly have taken 14 years for her to get another movie to direct? You’d think another actor would say, I want an Oscar, too; get her! Jenkins only got Wonder Woman after another director dropped out, and boy did Warner Bros get lucky. I’ve heard she and Geoff Johns are working right now on a sequel take that they’ll likely bring to screenwriter Allan Heinberg to turn into a script. Jenkins has to make a deal, but you can bet it won’t take another 14 years for her to make another movie. This is a great Hollywood story, but it doesn’t adhere to any formula other than you gotta remember to tell a good story with characters you care about. Wonder Woman did that, and The Mummy did not.


    BART: While I appreciate Wonder Woman’s qualities as entertainment, I am perplexed by the adulatory press response to the movie. Its opening triggered an almost Trump-ian tweet-storm – the most tweeted movie of the year. Meredith Woerner wrote in the Los Angeles Times that the “sight of female warriors kicking ass” was so empowering that she started to cry. Jenkins was hailed for “saving the DC universe.” In interviews, Jenkins said that, as a woman, she felt free to make Wonder Woman “vulnerable, loving and warm,” suggesting that male-directed superheroes have been downright chilly. Actress Gal Gadot, her star, also has found a loving press. “Daughter of Israel is a source of wonder,” headlined the Los Angeles Times. As a result, Wonder Woman has attracted more women than male ticket buyers – remarkable for superhero movies. Several pieces about the film predicted that it may empower many women to ask for a raise at work (the two ‘heavies’ in Wonder Women are older grey-haired guys who look like the typical workplace bosses). Still, Wonder Woman is a comic book character; perhaps Marissa Mayer’s $900,000 a week pay check during her years at Yahoo would provide more practical inspiration.


    FLEMING: You could see signs of this when girls of every shape and size at last San Diego Comic-Con wore Wonder Woman outfits. I’m sure Jenkins did bring touches that a male director would have overlooked. Women have been waiting for an opportunity like this, and now we’ll see more because the movie is a hit. The Walking Dead samurai sword-swinging heroine Dania Gurira is expanding her badass warrior character from Black Panther to Avengers: Infinity War; and maybe this will goose to the start line another Mad Max that brings back Theron’s Furiosa character. I hope we see a version of this when Black Panther births the first freestanding black superhero movie character since Wesley Snipes in Blade, and that The Dark Tower also works with Elba in the lead. It’s important for studios to see rewards for thinking outside the box.

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    Senior Member Gabriel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kurtzman and Orci to Reimagine Van Helsing and The Mummy

    Inside ‘The Mummy’s’ Troubles: Tom Cruise Had Excessive Control (EXCLUSIVE)
    Quote Originally Posted by "Ramin Setoodeh & Brent Lang
    There were few signs that a major blockbuster was about to premiere when “The Mummy” rolled into Manhattan last week. The marquee of the AMC Loews Lincoln Square Theatres had gone blank. The carpet was totally covered with black plastic. Security only let guests past barricades after quizzing them about what they were there to see, and everybody had to walk through two imposing metal detectors.


    Inside the theater, Tom Cruise was jubilant, as he stood in front of the crowd. “Hey y’all,” said the 54-year-old actor. He introduced Alex Kurtzman, the film’s director, as well as the cast members, who stood quietly as Cruise delivered a 10-minute improvised speech. “Movies aren’t made by single people,” he said. “It’s a team effort.”


    But in the case of “The Mummy,” one person–Cruise–had an excessive amount of control, according to several people interviewed. The reboot of “The Mummy” was supposed to be the start of a mega-franchise for Universal Pictures. But instead, it’s become a textbook case of a movie star run amok.


    As Hollywood is playing the blame game on what went wrong on “The Mummy,” which had a measly domestic opening of just $32 million, many fingers are pointing to Cruise. In the same way that he commanded the stage at the film’s premiere, leaving his cast standing awkwardly by his side, several sources close to the production say that Cruise exerted nearly complete creative oversight on “The Mummy,” essentially wearing all the hats and dictating even the smallest decisions on the set. On stage, Cruise admitted his own perfectionist tendencies. “I don’t just make a movie. I give it everything I have and I expect it from everyone also.”


    Universal, according to sources familiar with the matter, contractually guaranteed Cruise control of most aspects of the project, from script approval to post-production decisions. He also had a great deal of input on the film’s marketing and release strategy, these sources said, advocating for a June debut in a prime summer period.


    With terrible reviews, “The Mummy,” which insiders say cost as much as $190 million to make and more than $100 million more to market and release worldwide, may struggle to make its money back. The film is performing much stronger overseas, where it was Cruise’s biggest international rollout with a $142 million opening weekend. It’s not clear if the movie will break even, and it’s cast a shadow on the studio’s plans for a Dark Universe franchise that’s supposed to feature A-list stars like Johnny Depp (as “The Invisible Man”) and Angelina Jolie (in negotiations for “The Bride of Frankenstein”).


    A representative for Cruise didn’t respond to a request for comment. In a statement, Universal refuted that Cruise had a negative influence on the production.


    “Tom approaches every project with a level of commitment and dedication that is unmatched by most working in our business today,” the statement read. “He has been a true partner and creative collaborator, and his goal with any project he works on is to provide audiences with a truly cinematic moviegoing experience.”


    Cruise’s controlling behavior comes as Hollywood’s star system is in tatters. In the 1990s and early aughts, studios shelled out big money for the likes of Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts, and Harrison Ford, confident that their names above the title could guarantee ticket sales. In exchange they were offered big perks, hefty salaries, and a sizable share of the profits. Along with the money came the power to veto key decisions. But as comic book movies and special effects-heavy productions took over, top actors found themselves in less demand and with less influence. Cruise has navigated the new landscape better than some–the “Mission: Impossible” franchise still makes money but other efforts such as “Oblivion” have disappointed. Going forward, he may have difficulty exerting the same kind of sway over other films.


    It may be the last hurrah for big movie stars, but on the set of “The Mummy,” Cruise acted like the top gun he once was, calling all the shots. Kurtzman had been in the running to direct the project before Cruise signed on, but the actor gave his blessing for the filmmaker to slide behind the camera. They’d established a comfort level when Kurtzman worked as the screenwriter of “Mission: Impossible III.”


    In the wake of “The Mummy’s” failure, the decision to tap such an untested director on a sprawling action-adventure seems to have been foolhardy. Kurtzman wouldn’t necessarily rank high on a studio’s wish list for a project this big, given that he’s a producer and writer who only helmed one small feature that debuted to mixed reviews (2012’s Chris Pine drama “People Like Us”). As Kurtzman struggled to adjust to scope of the project, it felt more like Cruise was the real director, often dictating the major action sequences and micro-managing the production, according to sources.


    There were other ways that “The Mummy” was transformed from a scary summer popcorn movie into a standard-issue Tom Cruise vehicle. The actor personally commissioned two other writers along with McQuarrie to crank out a new script. Two of the film’s three credited screenwriters, McQuarrie and Dylan Kussman, an actor-writer who played small roles in “The Mummy” and “Jack Reacher,” were close allies of Cruise’s. The script envisioned Nick Morton as an earnest Tom Cruise archetype, who is laughably described as a “young man” at one point.


    His writers beefed up his part. In the original script, Morton and the Mummy (played by Sofia Boutella) had nearly equal screen time. The writers also added a twist that saw Cruise’s character become possessed, to give him more of a dramatic arc. Even though Universal executives weren’t thrilled about the story — which feels disjointed and includes Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll — they went along with Cruise’s vision.


    And the crew fell in line too, behind Cruise as the boss. “This is very much a film of two halves: before Tom and after Tom,” said Frank Walsh, the supervising art director, at a London screening of “The Mummy” this week. “I have heard the stories about how he drives everything and pushes and pushes, but it was amazing to work with him. The guy is a great filmmaker and knows his craft. He will walk onto a set and tell the director what to do, say ‘that’s not the right lens,’ ask about the sets, and as long as you don’t fluff what you’re saying to him … he’s easy to work for.”


    Once the film was done, Cruise brought in his longtime editor Andrew Mondshein to piece together the final picture. (The film’s credits also list Gina and Paul Hirsch as editors.) He spent time in the editing suite overseeing the cutting, which everybody agreed wasn’t working. On the lot, there were differences of opinions about whether Cruise’s directions were improving a picture that had been troubled from its inception or whether they were turning a horror film into a Cruise infomercial. Some believed that Cruise had no choice but to assert himself. Given Kurtzman’s inexperience directing tentpoles, Cruise, who has carried heavily choreographed action movies all his life, had to try to rally the troops or risk having the production fall behind schedule.


    Universal knew that if it wanted “The Mummy” to compete against the likes of “Wonder Woman” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” it needed every ounce of Cruise’s waning star power. As the studio scrambled to deal with weak tracking, it released a portrait in late May of Cruise with other actors from the Dark Universe franchise, including Depp and Javier Bardem (who will play Frankenstein). Yet the studio couldn’t even assemble all the actors in the room at the same time, and the image had to be Photoshopped. The Internet reaction to the last-ditch marketing effort was tepid at best. It was another reminder that the big names that once ruled Hollywood are inspiring a lot less love from audiences.


    The reviews may have been brutal, but at the premiere Cruise seemed pleased, complimenting everyone involved and portraying the finished film as a team effort. “Jake! Jake!” he shouted at one of his co-stars Jake Johnson. “It was awesome working with you, Jake!”


    Justin Kroll and Stewart Clarke contributed to this story.

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