Tom Cruise's The Mummy reboot officially hits theaters this Friday. But film critics who saw early screenings of the new monster movie began filing their reviews on Wednesday, and the results are far from good for Universal Pictures.
Comcast-owned Universal is positioning this latest iteration of The Mummy, which stars Cruise along with Sofia Boutella and Russell Crowe, as the first installment in a major franchise of monster movies set within the same cinematic universe. Now, the first movie in what Universal has dubbed its Dark Universe franchise, will have to overcome an overwhelmingly negative critical reception if it hopes to have a successful opening weekend at the box office that would set the stage for the studio's planned slate of additional monster movie reboots featuring iconic characters like the Invisible Man and Frankenstein's monster.
Granted, not all of the critics' takes have been counted yet, but The Mummy currently sports a putrid 27% rating based on Rotten Tomatoes' formula aggregating reviews. The Hollywood Reporter called the film a "limp, thrill-free debut," while the website IndieWire slammed The Mummy as "the worst Tom Cruise movie ever." The reviews aren't all terrible, as Entertainment Weekly's Chris Nashawaty graded the movie as a "B-", though even he said The Mummy "feels derivative and unnecessary and like it was written by committee (which a quick scan of its lengthy script credits confirms)." (Entertainment Weekly and Fortune are both owned by Time Inc.)
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It certainly appears to be a troubling start for a movie that cost Universal a reported $125 million to make, not including the likely high cost of the studio's major marketing push as Universal tries to start its Dark Universe off on strong footing. Analysts are projecting that The Mummy could pull in only about $35 million in domestic ticket sales in its opening weekend, which would be a majorly disappointing box office debut for any expensive project, much less one meant to launch a new franchise.
The Mummy will also face stiff competition this weekend from Warner Bros.'s Wonder Woman, which is coming off an historic opening weekend that saw the female-led DC Comics superhero movie notch the largest opening ever for a film directed by a woman (director Patty Jenkins), with $100.5 million in domestic box office sales. Universal may have to hope that The Mummy fares better overseas, where foreign audiences are expected to turn out for a reliable box office star like Cruise. The film already opened in South Korea on Tuesday and nabbed that country's biggest opening day box office ever, with earning $6.6 million.
Looking ahead, Universal has already announced plans for a 2019 adaptation of the 1935 classic film The Bride of Frankenstein, with actor Javier Bardem as Frankenstein's monster. The studio has also signed on Johnny Depp to eventually play the lead role in a reboot of The Invisible Man. Universal released a series of classic monster movies in the early 20th Century, including the 1932 version of The Mummy that starred actor Boris Karloff in the iconic title role. The film studio is taking advantage of its wealth of intellectual property in the genre, as it did with its series of The Mummy reboots and sequels that kicked off with the 1999 version starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz.