Alex Kurtzman has called his 2017 directorial effort “The Mummy” the “biggest failure of my life, both personally and professionally.” The Universal-backed adventure tentpole starred Tom Cruise and was designed to jumpstart the studio’s Dark Universe, a franchise of interconnected films based on classic Universal monster movies. “The Mummy” was universally panned by film critics and grossed $410 million worldwide, effectively killing the studio’s franchise hopes.
“I tend to subscribe to the point of view that you learn nothing from your successes, and you learn everything from your failures,” Kurtzman recently said on The Playlist’s “Bingeworthy” podcast. “And [‘The Mummy’] was probably the biggest failure of my life, both personally and professionally.”
While Kurtzman said “there’s about a million things I regret” about “The Mummy,” he also maintained that “it gave me so many gifts that are inexpressibly beautiful. I didn’t become a director until I made that movie, and it wasn’t because it was well-directed – it was because it wasn’t. I am very grateful for the opportunity to make those mistakes because it rebuilt me into a tougher person, and it also rebuilt me into a clearer filmmaker.”
“That has been a real gift, and I feel those gifts all the time because I’m very clear now when I have a feeling that doesn’t feel right,” Kurtzman added. “I am not quiet about it anymore. I will literally not proceed when I feel that feeling. It’s not worth it to me. And you can’t get to that place of gratitude until you’ve had that kind of experience.”
Variety film critic Owen Gleiberman wrote “The Mummy” was “too busy to be fun” in his review, adding, “The problem at its heart is that the reality of what the movie is — a Tom Cruise vehicle — is at war with the material…Cruise, at least in a high-powered potboiler like this one, is so devoted to maintaining his image as a clear and wholesome hero that his flirtation with the dark side is almost entirely theoretical. As Universal’s new Dark Universe unfolds, I wouldn’t hold my breath over which side is going to win, or how many more films it will take to play that out. It’s not just that there isn’t enough at stake (though there isn’t). It’s that the movie doesn’t seem to know how little at stake there is.”
Universal’s Dark Universe was set to include a sequel to Cruise’s “The Mummy” plus a Dr. Jekyll movie with Russell Crowe and a “Bride of Frankenstein” movie with Javier Bardem attached to play the eponymous monster. None of these films went into development after “The Mummy” bombed with critics and at the box office. Cruise rebounded a year later with the 2018 release of “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” which grossed $791 million worldwide to become the highest-grossing “Mission” movie so far.