The star of three Mummy films thinks he knows why Tom Cruise‘s attempt failed.
With Brendan Fraser making headlines recently for his highly acclaimed role in Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale, there has also been a lot of talk about the franchise that made him a big star for the first time, The Mummy. The last time Universal tried to make a Mummy movie with Tom Cruise, it didn’t work, but Fraser thinks he knows why.
Brendan Fraser has directed three Mummy films, followed in 2017 by a reboot of the franchise starring Tom Cruise. It was part of what Universal called the “Dark Universe,” and Fraser believes the “Dark” part of it may have been the reason Cruise’s movie didn’t work out. Fraser told Variety that his franchise was exciting, but not too scary, and Cruise’s movie just wasn’t fun enough. He explained…
It’s hard to make this movie. The ingredient we used for our mom, which I didn’t see in this movie, was funny. That’s what was missing in that incarnation. It was too straightforward a horror movie. “The Mummy” should be an exciting ride, but not terrifying and frightening. I know how difficult it is to do this. I tried to do it three times.
Brendan Fraser, of course, is not mistaken in saying that a sense of fun is the main difference between the two Mummy films. Fraser’s films were adventure stories with a supernatural bent, something more like an Indiana Jones movie than a horror movie. Tom Cruise’s “The Mummy” had its share of action, and although it wasn’t a horror movie in the traditional sense, it was taken much more seriously.
The tone of Cruise’s “The Mummy” movie was largely driven by the broader tone that Universal wanted for its “Dark Universe.” “The Mummy” was supposed to be the first film in the MCU-like franchise, consisting of interconnected stories using classic Universal monsters. Perhaps Universal invented the idea of an interconnected film universe with its movie monsters a few decades ago, and these were horror films rather than adventure films, so the choice of tone is understandable. But when the Mummy didn’t take root, the Dark Universe died.
In the end, although Cruise’s film “The Mummy” can be called a failure, in fact it was not so bad in numbers. Although it grossed only $80 million domestically, far less than any of Fraser’s films, it performed much better internationally, grossing over $400 million at the global box office. That’s about what Fraser’s third mummy movie did. Although the production of both of these films also cost more than $100 million, which makes them less profitable. When Fraser says he knows how difficult it is to make such films, he knows what he is talking about.
There have been rumors for a while that maybe the Dark Universe isn’t completely dead, but at the moment it seems that this idea has nothing to do with Universal. Brendan Fraser said that if Universal wants to make more films about mummies, he is ready for more, but on one condition: it should be fun.