Why ‘The Mummy’ Turned Crummy At The Domestic B.O. & What This Means For Uni’s ‘Dark Universe’


Updated overall analysis No amount of marketing stunts, from a 75-foot sarcophagus to two VR experiences, could create any want-to-see for Tom Cruise’s latest movie, Universal’s The Mummy, which tanked stateside this weekend with an estimated $32.2M. Cruise’s pic takes second place behind Warner Bros/DC’s Wonder Woman, which will own the top spot for a second consecutive weekend with $57.2M, -45% and with a running cume of $205M by Sunday. For the most recent weekend analysis of the box office as of Sunday, click here.


While we’ve pointed out recently how Rotten Tomatoes has been denting popcorn pics’ ticket sales, The Mummy is detested by both critics (at 18% Rotten) and audiences alike, with a B- CinemaScore and 70% total positive score from Screen Engine/ComScore’s PostTrak. This isn’t a scenario where a popcorn pic was beloved by audiences and critics killed its chances at the domestic box office. That latter number is even lower than the 76% earned by Paramount’s Baywatch.

Though men at 54% were the majority at The Mummy to females’ 46%, per PostTrak, they loathed it more than the ladies, 64% to 77%. On CinemaScore, 30% over 50 gave Mummy a C+, while 68% over 25 gave it a B-. By comparison, Cruise’s Oblivion, also from Uni, earned a B- CinemaScore, opened to $37M and fell short of $100M with a final $89.1M stateside.


Mummy’s weekend is the lowest domestic opening in the Universal Mummy series when compared to the Brendon Fraser trilogy and even lower than the Dwayne Johnson spinoff The Scorpion King ($36M). So much for a reboot. Even with Cruise hitting his best global opening with $174M here, there’s a question whether Mummy will leg out abroad and break even given the competition in coming weeks. Industry estimates (not Universal’s) have Mummy‘s combined P&A and production costs ranging between $335M-$370M. On top of that, some industry sources say that Mummy‘s $142M start abroad has a lot to do with its massive day-and-date release pattern in 63 territories more than anything else. True, broken popcorn fare has a much better chance at succeeding abroad given the burgeoning cinematic markets, especially in China. Just look at last year’s Independence Day: Resurgence which cost an estimated $165M before P&A, and generated 74% of its $390M worldwide.

Some like to point out that Mummy’s failure stems from being an antiquated property paired with an antiquated star, but if you remember, it wasn’t that long ago that both audiences (A-) and critics (93% certified fresh) were having a blast at another aging Cruise franchise, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, which opened to $55.5M and held the top spot for two weeks in a row, becoming the second-highest title in the M:I series with $195M domestic. In addition, per CinemaScore, 40% bought tickets because of Cruise, a respectable number for a star.

There are myriad reasons why Mummy isn’t connecting stateside, but as critics and moviegoers concur – it’s just a really bad, messy movie which can’t decide which direction to take, with a complex mythology around a female mummy’s soul trapped in Cruise’s body.

Universal Pictures

The Mummy should also serve as a warning sign to other major studios: Here’s another example of what can go severely wrong when there’s so much emphasis put on a movie to launch a franchise, in this case Universal’s monster Dark Universe. Warner Bros. nearly ran into this problem with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them back in October when they ambitiously announced a month before release that the Harry Potter spinoff series would span five titles. Fantastic Beasts put up the lowest opening of any Potter universe title ($74.4M) but wound up being profitable at the end of the day.

When Marvel was adapting Iron Man, Captain America and Thor to the big screen, a franchise organically took place and eventually yielded The Avengers. That’s the approach Universal should have taken with Dark Universe: just let it happen naturally. Now Dark Universe is off to a cockeyed start. Uni swears that one title isn’t integral to the next, nor should Mummy serve as an indicator for the quality of Bill Condon’s Bride of Frankenstein and other titles.

But Mummy arguably blemishes a new brand that Universal is seeking to establish, and the last thing the studio needs is for that Dark Universe logo to scare off audiences. Mummy‘s fate stateside just puts more stress on Bride of Frankenstein to deliver.


Much like there was a significant amount of strain at Warner Bros. to bring The Legend of King Arthur to the screen, so there was at Uni to reboot their monster movies and Mummy. Before blockbuster scribe Alex Kurtzman was selected to direct his first tentpole here (following the disastrous drama People Like Us at $12.4M), Mummy had been passed over by directors Len Wiseman and Andres Muschietti. Wiseman backed out due to scheduling, while Muschietti left due to creative differences, though word is the Jon Spaits script he was working from was much bolder.

Muschietti was originally pursued due to his riveting horror film Mama, which earned $146.4M worldwide off a $15M budget. Many believe he made the right choice moving off Mummy and taking on Stephen King’s It for New Line, which is already generating excitement (the online trailer earned close to 200M views in its first 24 hours).  Muschietti left Mummy in May 2014 a matter of days after Kurtzman and his Transformers/Star Trek partner Roberto Orci parted ways to work on separate projects. The duo were originally brought to Uni in May 2012 under a two-year production deal. By July 2014, Kurtzman was paired with Fast and Furious scribe Chris Morgan to be the architects of the Dark Universe narrative. Amid Mummy’s bombing, industry executives are clearly juxtaposing that creative combo to the previous pizzazz of Kurtzman/Orci.

Deadline hears that Mummy was a problematic shoot, with Cruise in the end trying to save the movie in the editing room. Some even think that Kurtzman bit off more than he could chew in tackling The Mummy as director.  Cruise brought on his Rogue Nation director/scribe Christopher McQuarrie to take a stab at the script. In the end, we’re left with a mishmash of dull action scenes, sans that singular, vibrant auteur’s vision that Jordan Peele brought to Uni/Blumhouse’s Get Out.

A studio such as Universal, which reaped a fortune from rebooting a classic movie like Jurassic Park with Jurassic World, should know better. Why lose what everybody loved about the older Mummys? Social media analyst RelishMix observes that social chatter has fans with “fond memories of Brendan Fraser’s series of films” and reviewers fondly recall the campiness of those pics, gone now for a dark, broody, monotonous tone. Heading into the weekend, RelishMix noticed that The Mummy “had mixed conversation to be sure…Some moviegoers don’t believe Cruise in this role, and conversation along these lines suggests a certain amount of wear-out related to the actor in these super-action roles.”


Also coming in lower than the industry expected especially after its glowing reviews at 86% fresh is A24’s It Comes at Night which is opening to $6M. Some believed it had slightly better prospects between $8M-$10M. Typically with these low budget horror movies, and this one was only $5M before P&A, there’s a heavy degree of social and digital marketing. But RelishMix noticed that the movie is impaired by a cast which isn’t widely active on social with “less than 300K social media followers, which is light for a film opening during the competitive summer season.”

Furthermore the current conversation among horror fans for It Comes at Night is “dubious at best,” says Relish Mix, “They are tired of the zombie film, and the ‘stuck in a house’ element.” Those who’ve seen the Trey Edward Shults film give it a big D CinemaScore, a complete knife in the back to this pic’s longevity. While PG-13 horror films pull in young girls, this one is rated R, so guys at 53% are the majority. Those over 25 at 56% gave It Comes at Night a D, while over 50 at 12% had zero patience for the movie, slamming it with a F.

Bleecker Street

Bleecker Street’s war drama Megan Leavey with 79% fresh from 27 reviews and an A CinemaScore is doing better than expected with $3.8M at 1,956 theaters, however, for a wide release that’s still very low. Whenever you see an indie go wide like this versus a platform, it typically means the distributor has a certain amount of financial skin in the game, meaning that they have but no choice but to go wide, and make as much as they can theatrically so they can quickly segue to home entertainment. That versus a platform release which is much more of an investment over a longer period, and may not pan out successfully for a movie in the long run.  Bleecker acquired the movie back in January from Liddel Entertainment.

Analysis updated as of Sunday 9:50AM. For Sunday morning’s weekend analysis, click here


Previous box updates for the weekend of June 9-11.

Industry estimates as of Saturday AM:

1.). Wonder Woman  (WB), 4,165 theaters / $15.8M Fri. (-59%)/3-day cume: $52.8M (-49%)/Total:$200.6M/ Wk 2

2.). The Mummy (Uni), 4.035 theaters / $12M Fri. (includes $2.66M) /3-day cume: $30.5M/Wk 1

3.). Captain Underpants  (DWA/20TH), 3,529 theaters (+95)/ $3.5M Fri. (-56%) /3-day cume: $12.6M (-47%)/Total: $44.1M/Wk 2

4.). Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales  (DIS), 3,679 theaters (-597) / $2.97 M Fri. (-53%)/3-day cume: $10.4M (-53%)/Total:$135.5M/ Wk 3

5.). It Comes at Night  (A24), 2,533 theaters / $2.4M Fri. (includes $700 previews) /3-day cume: $6.2M/Total: Wk 1

6.). Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2  (DIS), 2,911 theaters (-596) / $1.68M Fri.  (-37%)/3-day cume: $6.05M (-39%)/Total:$366.2m/ Wk 6

7.). Baywatch (FOX), 2,832 theaters (-815) / $1.3M Fri.(-50%)/ 3-day cume: $4.2M (-52%)/Total:$50.6M/ Wk 3

8.). Megan Leavey (BST), 1,956 theaters  / $1.2M Fri  /3-day cume: $3.8M  / Wk 1

9.). Alien: Covenant (FOX), 1,814 theaters (-846) / $479k  Fri. (-58%)  /3-day cume: $1.6M (-61%)/Total: $71M/Wk 4

10.). Everything, Everything (WB/MGM), 1,546 theaters (-829) / $527K Fri. (-51%)/3-day cume: $1.59M (-52%) /Total:$31.6M/  Wk 4

11.). My Cousin Rachel (FSL), 523 theaters  / $278K Fri. /3-day cume: $981k / Wk 1

Roadside Attractions/FilmNation


Beatriz at Dinner (RSA), 5 theaters  / $42K Fri. /PTA: $27,2k/3-day cume: $136k / Wk 1

UPDATE, Friday noon: Universal’s The Mummy is looking pretty dingy at the domestic box office with an opening between $29.6 million-$32 million at 4,034 theaters, off a first day that’s between $11.5M-$12.5M. Last night’s previews of $2.66M are rolled into today’s ticket sales. This is a horrible domestic start for Universal’s Dark Universe monster franchise, with The Mummy on track to be the lowest opening among the studio’s previous Mummy pics and spinoffs, i.e., The Mummy 1999’s $43.3M opening, The Mummy Returns’ $68.1M, The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor‘s $40.4M and even below the Dwayne Johnson spinoff The Scorpion King which opened to $36M.

Per one rival marketing executive on The Mummy‘s cursed outcome, “Nobody wanted to see Tom Cruise in this movie.” And we’ve heard that The Mummy in its production cost is substantially higher than the $125M-$130M reported before P&A; it’s more in the $195M vicinity.

Warner Bros

This puts the Cruise movie in second place behind Warner Bros/DC’s Wonder Woman, which will hold No. 1 with $48.5M-$51M in its second weekend at 4,165, an average ease of 52%. If these figures hold up on the high end, Wonder Woman will stand at $198.9M by EOD Sunday.

20th Century Fox/DreamWorks Animation’s Captain Underpants will take third with $4M today and $13.3M in weekend two at 3,529,  -44% for a 10-day gross of $45.6M.

Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales will take fourth with an estimated $3.2M today, and $11.1M in its third outing, -49% for a running stateside total of $136.3M.

Newcomer It Comes at Night from A24 will slot fifth with $3.7M today, and an opening of $9.1M at 2,533 locations. Bleecker Street’s Megan Leavey at 1,956 is looking at $800K-$1.1M today and $2.5M-$3.2M in its debut.

Again, all these figures could sway up or down by evening.

PREVIOUS, 7:31 AM: Universal’s The Mummy drew $2.66M in previews last night at 3,015 venues, a figure that’s 34% less than the $4M Tom Cruise’s summer hit Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation grossed on its preview night two years at 2,674 locations.

Film reviewers have trashed The Mummy putting its Rotten Tomatoes score at 20% Rotten, and thus greatly impacting the pic’s domestic weekend results which could be as low as $32M according to some tracking services (that’s under the $35M-$42M we originally saw). Universal has a lot of skin riding on The Mummy as its the first title in their revamped monster Dark Universe series, and this is not an excellent start by any means. Some say the reported net production cost for Mummy is between $125M-$130M, while other finance sources say it’s closer to $195M. If there’s any hope of breakeven here, it will boil down to overseas for the Alex Kurtzman-directed film.

At the same time, The Mummy‘s Thursday night is higher than Jack Reacher: Never Go Back ($1.325M at 2,850 venues), The Edge of Tomorrow ($1.8M) and Universal’s Oblivion which grossed $1.1M from midnight shows.

But if you want to know where the majority of America’s moviegoers were yesterday, they were watching Warner Bros./DC’s Wonder Woman which took in an estimated $9.2M, only 2% down from Wednesday’s take. Current running cume stands at $147.8M, and should Wonder Woman on the low end make $52.2M in her second weekend (it could be as high $60M), she’ll easily clock past the two century mark at the B.O.

Also this weekend, A24 is opening their horror title It Comes at Night in 2,500 theaters. It made $700K last night at 2,000 theaters. The movie has been greatly embraced by critics at 85% certified fresh and could potentially hit $10M. The movie directed by Trey Edward Shults was financed by A24 for a cost of $5M.

Bleecker Street has the Kate Mara war drama Megan Leavey which industry estimates figure will gross $2M at 1,944 locations. The Gabriela Cowperthwaite-directed title currently has a 78% Rotten Tomatoes fresh score.

This article was printed from https://deadline.com/2017/06/wonder-woman-beats-tom-cruise-mummy-at-the-box-office-1202110164/