Even though reviews for “Total Recall” were less than kind, and audiences at home mostly didn’t care, it seems overseas is where Len Wiseman still matters. The ill advised, blandly directed and deathly dull remake pulled in less than $60 million stateside, but overseas? $114 million. Good lord. Anyway, it seems those figures are enough to convince Universal that the man who has fingers in the anonymous “Underworld” series, and dipped his toes in the “Die Hard” franchise with the largely disregarded “Live Free Or Die Hard” is the right guy to helm the all important reboot of “The Mummy.”
Universal has been trying to get their catalog of movie monsters back on the big screen, but hit a setback with 2010’s disastrous “The Wolfman,” a contentious production that saw original director Mark Romanek wisely bail, while Joe Johnston did what he could subbing at the last minute for a movie that was trying to make a release date. Presumably Universal has learned their lesson, and it seemed things were off to the right start with “The Mummy” when they hired “Prometheus” scribe Jon Spaihts earlier this summer. But if you’re looking for someone with zero vision, Wiseman is the guy you want.
“Transformers” dudes Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman are producing the movie that will have a contemporary setting, that Wiseman says will be “a darker twist on the material, a scarier version.” And yet Kurtzman assures (shareholders, we’re guessing), “It’s still a four quadrant film but as a lot of recent movies have proven, audiences are hungry for more than they used to be. You can still have a family movie, an action movie that’s more grounded than these used to be.” Frankly, all of this sounds ripe for a lot of a boardroom battles between creating something unique vs. something palatable in order to sell fast food toys.
The Kurtzman/Orci/Wiseman trio have already come together on the “Sleepy Hollow” pilot and there is a lot of praise going both ways, with Kurtzman calling “Underworld,” with a straight face, “a beautiful advancement of the genre.” Seriously.
Listen, we’ll just say this. While Universal preps “The Mummy,” it’s interesting to look at what Warner Bros. is doing with “Godzilla.” They hired Gareth Edwards, who truly did do something fresh with the creature genre in “Monsters,” and are letting him prove himself as he plays with studio money. But then again, Universal did try that approach with Carl Erik Rinsch on “47 Ronin” (though that was his first feature) and that turned out to be a disaster. So…prove us wrong Wiseman. [Deadline]