Tom Cruise–Starrer ‘The Mummy’ Was ‘Brutal’ Experience and ‘Biggest Failure of My Life,’ Says Director

Alex Kurtzman said there are "a million things" he regrets about the 2017 film starring Tom Cruise that tanked Universal's Dark Universe franchise.
Tom Cruise The Mummy
"The Mummy"
Universal Pictures

It’s taken years for director Alex Kurtzman to be able to fully unwrap the box office flop that was “The Mummy.”

The 2017 Tom Cruise film was expected to kick off Universal’s Dark Universe franchise, extending to revivals of “The Bride of Frankenstein,” “Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde,” and “The Invisible Man” with Javier Bardem, Russell Crowe, and Johnny Depp attached to the respective projects. However, plans for the Dark Universe were scrapped after “The Mummy” failed to find life at the box office, making less than $32 million opening weekend on a budget of an estimated $190 million.

“I tend to subscribe to the point of view that you learn nothing from your successes, and you learn everything from your failures. And that was probably the biggest failure of my life, both personally and professionally,” Kurtzman told The Playlist’s “Bingeworthy” podcast. “There are about a million things I regret about it, but it also gave me so many gifts that are inexpressibly beautiful.”

“The Mummy” stars Tom Cruise as a U.S. Army sergeant who accidentally unleashes ancient Egyptian princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) into the modern world. Cruise reportedly had “an excessive amount of control” on the production, as industry insiders previously told Variety.

On “Bingeworthy,” Kurtzman admitted that production was “brutal” in part due to too “many cooks in the kitchen.”

Yet the “Man Who Fell to Earth” director added, “I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to make those mistakes because it rebuilt me into a tougher person, and it also rebuilt me into a clearer filmmaker, and that has been a real gift.”

Kurtzman continued, “I feel those gifts all the time because I’m very clear now — when I have a feeling that doesn’t feel right, 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.”

He also credited “The Mummy” with making him a “real” director, saying, “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 would not have understood many of the things that I now understand about what it means to be a director had I not gone through that experience.”

According to “Shadow and Bone” creator Eric Heisserer, who was set to helm the Dark Universe’s “Van Helsing” installment, the Universal franchise was a mess behind-the-scenes. Heisserer previously told The Playlist that production meetings were comparable to Thanksgiving day family bickering.

“You had some people saying, ‘Should our monsters all be villains in these movies or can they all be heroes?'” Heisserer said. “And someone else would say, ‘We can build the plane when we fly it.’ And it’s me and Jon Spaihts at the table going, ‘That’s a terrible analogy. We don’t want to be on that plane. What are we doing here?'”

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