Tom Cruise reportedly took complete control over the production of Universal’s poorly received reboot of The Mummy. To say that the planned kickoff to the new Dark Universe of classic monsters underwhelmed with its domestic box office performance would be an understatement. With a reported production budget of $125 million and A-lister Tom Cruise in the lead, The Mummy was clearly expected by Universal to be a big summer blockbuster in the U.S., but that definitely hasn’t turned out to be the case.
Going into The Mummy’s opening weekend, poor reviews from critics cast a dark cloud over the film’s prospects, as did advance box office estimates from industry pundits. Sure enough, The Mummy bowed to a weak $32 million domestic opening, which would have been more of a catastrophic number were international audiences not to have provided the film with an additional $140 million. Still, with the sky-high marketing costs of a studio tentpole, and some claims that the above $125 million budget number is much lower than what the film actually cost to make, it remains a question as to whether The Mummy will ultimately be profitable.
Many have wondered who should be held accountable for The Mummy’s failure, but according to a new report by Variety, the answer may be star Tom Cruise. Cruise reportedly took firm control of nearly every aspect of production and post-production, having the script re-written and the film ultimately re-edited at his behest. Cruise was also apparently telling inexperienced director Alex Kurtzman what to do on set. That said, depending on who one talks to, Cruise is either the main reason The Mummy failed or the only reason it wasn’t even more of a disaster. The film’s supervising art director Frank Walsh had this to say:
“This is very much a film of two halves: before Tom and after Tom. 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.”
In Cruise’s defense, the report also asserts that director Kurtzman found himself in over his head, and wasn’t adjusting well to the challenges of helming an action-packed blockbuster. Thus, it fell to Cruise — star of multiple such efforts — to get the production back on track and rally the rest of the crew behind him. Were he not to have done this, the film would have likely fallen behind schedule.
On the other hand, Cruise reportedly altered the original story of The Mummy considerably, beefing up his own role and downplaying that of the titular creature. Universal was reportedly unhappy with many of the creative changes, but opted to bank on Cruise’s star power and fall in line with his decisions. Reps for Cruise have yet to publicly comment on the Variety report, but if it is indeed true, it paints the picture of The Mummy possibly being a “cursed” production from the very beginning.