The Mummy Director Reveals His Problem With the Tom Cruise Remake


Twenty-five years ago, director Stephen Sommers turned a respected, but admittedly pretty dusty, Universal horror movie into a rip-roarin’ adventure. It’s fair to say all these years later that 1999’s The Mummy the best Indiana Jones movie not directed by Steven Spielberg. And yet, when Universal wanted to remake it again, they didn’t even bother to consult Sommers.

Is it any wonder, then, that 2017’s The Mummy was a colossal flop?

Talking with Sommers about the 25th anniversary of The Mummy ’99, The Hollywood Reporter asked if he had any involvement with the 2017 film, to which the director gave a short, clear response.

“No,” he answered. “Actually, I was kind of insulted because the writers and director of that Tom Cruise one, no one ever contacted me. I contact people if I was going to take over somebody’s thing.”

Perhaps the most surprising part of that statement is the idea that The Mummy is “somebody’s thing” and that somebody is Sommers, not director Karl Freund nor Boris Karloff of the 1932 movie. The statement doesn’t suggest that Sommers doesn’t like the original film. In fact, as he tells THR, that movie sparked a long love of all things Egyptian, which eventually led to his helming the 1999 film.

“When I was eight years old, I first saw the Boris Karloff Mummy movie, and I loved it,” Sommers said. “Universal had been trying to remake the Karloff movie for nine years when I got on, and it was going to be a low-budget horror movie set in modern day. I had my agents call the producers Jim Jacks and Sean Daniel, and they were so sick of The Mummy that they didn’t even hear my pitch and just brought me straight into Universal.”

Despite the difficulty getting heard, Universal bought Sommers’ pitch and put him to work. To hear him tell it, the studio didn’t even balk at his choices of stars.

When his editor suggested Brendan Fraser for Rick O’Connell, Sommers went straight for him and not for any of the bigger names at the time (“You’ve got to be kidding,” laughed Sommers when THR points out trivia saying that he courted Sylvester Stallone for the lead). The studio wanted an American actress such as Ashley Judd for Evelyn Carnahan, but Sommers said, “They’re all American. She should be English.” So he got Rachel Weisz.

It paid off with The Mummy grossing $417.4 million off of an $80 million budget, and is still just as beloved today. The same cannot be said for 2017’s The Mummy, the sole directing credit of Alex Kurtzman. That film starred Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Russell Crowe, Annabelle Wallis, and Jake Johnson. If that film has any legacy at all, it’s the infamous first trailer, which somehow released without all of the sound mixed, making the movie seem surreal, brutal, and infinitely more interesting than the actual finished product.

It’s no wonder that Sommers distances himself from that movie. And it’s no wonder that he isn’t too angry overall. “I was doing other things, and it’s not like I sat crying,” he explained. “I just think it’s common courtesy.”

The post The Mummy Director Reveals His Problem With the Tom Cruise Remake appeared first on Den of Geek.

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