With Brendan Fraser making a lot of headlines recently due to his highly praised performance in Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale, there has also been a lot of talk about the franchise that made him a big star the first time around, The Mummy. The last time Universal tried to make a Mummy movie with Tom Cruise it didn’t work out so well, but Fraser thinks he knows why.
Brendan Fraser made three Mummy movies, that were then followed in 2017 by a reboot of the franchise with Tom Cruise in the lead. It was part of what Universal was calling it’s Dark Universe, and Fraser thinks that the “Dark” part of that was maybe the reason that Cruise’s movie didn’t work out. Fraser tells Variety that his franchise was exciting without being too scary, and Cruise’s movie just wasn’t fun enough. He explained…
Brendan Fraser certainly isn’t wrong about a sense of fun being the primary difference between the two Mummy movies. Fraser’s films were adventure stories with a supernatural twist, something more akin to an Indiana Jones film than a horror movie. Tom Cruise’s The Mummy had its share of action, and while it wasn’t a horror movie in the traditional sense, it took itself much more seriously.
The tone of Cruise’s Mummy movie was in large part due to the broader tone that Universal wanted for its Dark Universe. The Mummy was supposed to be the first film in what was going to be an MCU-like franchise of interconnected stories using Universal’s classic monsters. Universal arguably invented the interconnected movie universe idea with its movie monsters decades earlier, and those were more horror movies than adventure movies, so the tone choice is understandable. But when The Mummy didn't catch on, the Dark Universe died.
In the end, While Cruise's Mummy movie has to be called a failure, it wasn't actually that bad by the numbers. While it only made $80 million domestically, far less than any of Fraser’s films, it did much better on the international market, ending up with over $400 million at the global box office. That’s about what the third of Fraser’s Mummy movies did. Although both of those films also cost over $100 million to produce, making them less profitable. When Fraser says he knows that making these movies is hard, he knows what he is talking about.
There were rumblings for a while that maybe the Dark Universe wasn't completely dead, but at this point it does appear that the idea has no traction at Universal. If Universal does want to make more Mummy movies, Brendan Fraser has said he's up for more, on one condition, it needs to be fun.
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