It’s easy to forgot that Damon Lindelof was not solely responsible for writing Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, as he worked from an earlier draft penned by Jon Spaihts back when the project was a straightforward Alien prequel. Spaihts, it seems, may have been responsible for the old-fashioned (outdated?) horror tropes in Scott’s film, as similar elements popped up in last year’s critically-panned Darkest Hour (which Spaihts scripted).
Universal has Spaihts writing a reboot for The Mummy, a franchise that started in the 1930s and was rebooted in the late ’90s starring Brendan Fraser (the last installment of which was Tomb of the Dragon Emperor in 2008). Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are producing through their K/O Paper Products, with Len Wiseman (Total Recall) wrapping up a deal to direct.
Spaihts has announced that his intention with the Mummy reboot is “to go back to [this] franchise’s roots in dark, scary source material,” as opposed to the sillier Indiana Jones-esque films featuring Fraser. Pure horror is new territory for Kurtzman and Orci; as the former told Deadline, the reboot will recall the Michael Crichton approach – in stories such as Jurassic Park, Sphere, and The Andromeda Strain, no doubt – as it blends monster and action tropes, while still going for scares:
“We’re reaching into the deep roots of ‘The Mummy,’ which at its beating heart is a horror movie and then an action movie, and putting it into a context that is real and emotional. It’s still a four quadrant film but as a lot of recent movies have proven, audiences are hungry for more than they used to be. You can still have a family movie, an action movie that’s more grounded than these used to be. Without saying too much, we’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from Michael Crichton’s books, and how he ground fantastical sales in modern day science.”
Jurassic Park was directed by Steven Spielberg, who had demonstrated he could terrify viewers of all ages (while also enthralling them) with Jaws almost 20 years earlier. The Mummy, by comparison, is going to be helmed by Len Wiseman, a filmmaker who does well working in the action genre (Live Free or Die Hard), but who has experienced less success with his genre blends – be it the combination of action and horror (Underworld) or action and sci-fi (Total Recall).
Kurtzman and Orci have already established a working relationship with Wiseman, as he helmed the pilot for their Hawaii Five-0 television series reboot. The positive results from their previous collaboration – Five-0 begins its third season tonight – was, no doubt, part of the motivation behind Wiseman being signed on for a re-invigorating Mummy installment. According to Kurtzman:
“A lot of the work with Len has been about creating mythology, and I remember seeing ‘Underworld’ and finding it a beautiful advancement of the genre. It was presented in this fresh, incredibly cool concept, but it never gave up its reverence for the mythology and that is what inspired us to meet with Len.”
Wiseman’s reboot is being eyed for a Summer 2014 release date, so expect to hear more about The Mummy in the foreseeable future.