Universal Pictures is hoping to win big at the box office next summer, by kicking off their shared universe of classic monster films with a modern-day reboot of The Mummy. The film is headlined by blockbuster star Tom Cruise, and directed by Alex Kurtzman (the co-writer/producer of Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness), with Chris Morgan – the screenwriter/producer for the Fast & Furious franchise – serving as producer on this and all Universal monster movie reboots moving forward.
Details on the plot have been sketchy so far, outlined simply as Cruise’s former Navy SEAL working with an archaeologist (Annabelle Wallis) to stop a resurrected female mummy (Sofia Boutella). Both Jake Johnson (New Girl) and Courtney B. Vance (Terminator Genisys) have been cast as members of the military. The new version of the story takes place in the present day, and is being constructed as more of a “dark superhero action/adventure” than a straightforward horror film.
Now Universal has released an official synopsis of The Mummy, and the cascade of powerful adjectives indicates that the studio is planning to turn the classic supernatural monster tale into something exponentially more epic. The official text (seen below) describes a “spectacular” retelling of an ages-old legend:
Tom Cruise headlines a spectacular, all-new cinematic version of the legend that has fascinated cultures all over the world since the dawn of civilization: The Mummy.
Thought safely entombed in a crypt deep beneath the unforgiving desert, an ancient queen (Sofia Boutella of Kingsman: The Secret Service and Star Trek Beyond) whose destiny was unjustly taken from her is awakened in our current day, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia and terrors that defy human comprehension.
From the sweeping sands of the Middle East through hidden labyrinths under modern-day London, The Mummy brings a surprising intensity and balance of wonder and thrills in an imaginative new take that ushers in a new world of gods and monsters.
Early set photos showed Cruise and Wallis filming a night shoot in Oxford, England, and this summary indicates that a decent portion of the action will take place there. The description of “terrors that defy human comprehension” also suggest that action will be aspiring to more terrifying effects than the giant sandstorms and flesh-eating scarabs of the 1999 film version of The Mummy.
The reference to “a new world of gods and monsters” is a quote from the 1935 movie, Bride of Frankenstein, one of a quartet of horror films directed by James Whale. A reboot of that Bride story, with a script by David Koepp (Jurassic Park) and possibly starring Angelina Jolie, is slated to join The Mummy as one of Universal’s new “Monster Franchise Films”. Russell Crowe is in talks to possibly play Dr. Jekyll in The Mummy, which could lead to his own solo movie or at least future appearances in the franchise. Other planned projects include The Invisible Man (starring Johnny Depp), Dracula, and Van Helsing.
The synopsis doesn’t give us a ton of new information, but it does suggest this will be a very ambitious project. The idea that The Mummy will balance “wonder and thrills” seems to confirm that the filmmakers will be embracing the action and adventure aspects over a subtler, more claustrophobic horror style. Hopefully this doesn’t translate to wall-to-wall CGI, which can end up as rather hollow entertainment. The best classic horror stories combine terror with poignant tragedy, and while popcorn movies don’t need to be literary masterpieces, this “imaginative new take” would likely do better with critics and fans if there’s at least some substance to the spectacle.
The Mummy will open in U.S. theaters on June 9th, 2017, followed by Untitled Universal Monster Franchise Films on April 13th, 2018 and February 15th, 2019.
Source: Universal Pictures [via Screen Crush]