Tom Cruise’s The Mummy is now projected to open at $35 million at the domestic box office this weekend, down from initial estimates of $40 million. The first in Universal’s Dark Universe films, The Mummy signals a reboot of the studio’s classic monster movies that made legends out of Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr. in the 1930s and ’40s with such films as Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy and The Wolfman.
Universal, of course, found success with director Stephen Sommers’ action-oriented reboot of The Mummy in the late 1990s, and apart from Benicio Del Toro’s turn as The Wolfman in 2010 and Luke Evans role as Vlad Tepes in 2014’s Dracula Untold, there really hasn’t been a concerted effort by Universal to mine its classic monster vault. That will all change Friday when director Alex Kurtzman’s reboot of The Mummy kicks off the studio’s newly-minted “Dark Universe” — and while Universal seems firmly committed to shared universe by hiring Javier Bardem (as Frankenstein’s monster) and Johnny Depp (as The Invisible Man) for future Dark Universe films, the studio’s initial offering looks like it will get off to a rough start.
Citing polling numbers from research firm NRG, THR reports that The Mummy is currently tracking for a $35 million opening at the domestic box office. The film was originally projected to make $40 million in its opening weekend (a weak number to begin with for a summer tentpole film), but last week, NRG has dropped The Mummy’s opening estimate from $38 million, and on Monday, to $35 million. The film is expected to finish second to Wonder Woman, which is expected to gross around $50 million domestically after its stunning domestic opening this past weekend of more than $100 million in box office receipts.
The silver lining for The Mummy, according to THR, is that it is expected to open at No. 1 overseas, where Cruise has traditionally performed well. The trade publication, however, didn’t list any box office estimates for the film’s opening.
The underwhelming domestic projection for The Mummy could signal a couple things. For one, it proves that Cruise’s star is dimming in the U.S., where, apart from the Mission: Impossible series, he’s not quite as big a draw as he used to be. In addition, perhaps fan interest in Universal’s horror properties isn’t as big as the studio thinks it is.
Box office analyst Jeff Bock looks at the projected opening in a broader sense, telling THR, “The Mummy arrives with the feel of another reboot — something audiences, especially in North America, have become all-too familiar with. It had better succeed overseas.”
Whatever The Mummy grosses its opening weekend or ends with at the conclusion of its theatrical run, hopefully Universal will remain committed to bringing its classic movie monsters back to life. For the time being it has director Bill Condon’s The Bride of Frankenstein pegged for a Feb. 14, 2019, release (which will likely feature Bardem and possibly Angelina Jolie as The Bride, who is reportedly Universal’s top choice) as its second Dark Universe film after The Mummy, and obviously The Invisible Man will appear at some point after that. Building a shared universe like the MCU or DCU is a huge undertaking, so fans can only hope Universal will remain committed to its Dark Universe as well.