This past weekend, Universal kicked off their Dark Universe by releasing The Mummy, the first in a planned shared universe. The film didn’t do to well, especially considering the marketing push it received and that it was led by Tom Cruise, who is usually a box office guarantee. Generating only $32 million domestically (although it earned a fantastic $141 million overseas), the film has received mostly negative reviews and has already generated one think piece after another about how the Dark Universe may already be dead (hint: it’s not).
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One voice that chimed in to discuss the film was An American Werewolf in London director John Landis, who shot down the concept of shared universes being a new thing while also stating that such endeavors can work, they just need to be approached in the right way.
Talking with Ireland’s Entertainment, Landis explained, “First of all, it’s not a new idea. If you remember with Universal back in the ’40s, once they made all their classics, they started cross-pollinating. House of Dracula, House of Frankenstein, Frankenstein Meets The Wolf-Man – you know what they used to call those? Monster rallies! (laugh) And then of course, one of the great ironies is what was considered… OK – it’s over now!… was Abbot & Costello Meets Frankenstein, which is actually a very funny movie and very respectful of the monsters. I think, y’know, maybe that’s one of the problems with Universal’s Dark Universe is that it isn’t respectful of the monsters.”
He continued by explaining that there are ways to do it well by saying, “Y’know, when they want to reinvent and sometimes it works great – look at David Cronenberg’s The Fly or John Carpenter’s The Thing. It can be done.”
What’s important that Landis is stating here is that Hollywood isn’t necessarily attempting something new but they may not be approaching it with the right intentions. For many of us horror fans, something authentic will be far more exciting than something bombastic. When a studio or filmmaker is able to combine those two traits effectively, it’s a surefire recipe for love and adoration. However, Nightbreed and The Thing were flops upon release, so what do I know?
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. The cast also includes Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Russell Crowe, and Sofia Boutella as the titular character.
Thought safely entombed in a tomb deep beneath the unforgiving desert, an ancient princess (Boutella) 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.