Tom Cruise is no stranger to big-budget films, and his career has seen him play various roles across various genres. However, his foray into the world of the Dark Universe – Universal’s ambitious attempt to create a cinematic universe of interconnected monster movies – was a costly failure.
Tom Cruise starred in The Mummy, the first film in the franchise, which was meant to launch a wave of sequels featuring characters like Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Wolf Man. But things didn’t quite go according to plan, and The Mummy was both a critical and commercial failure.
Universal’s Failed Attempt at a Dark Universe Franchise
Released in 2017, The Mummy was directed by Alex Kurtzman and written by Jon Spaihts and Christopher McQuarrie. It starred Tom Cruise as Nick Morton, a soldier of fortune who accidentally unearths the tomb of an ancient Egyptian princess, played by Sofia Boutella.
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The film was supposed to set up the Dark Universe and establish a tone and style that future films would build upon. But instead, it was criticized for being a bland and generic action movie that failed to deliver on the promise of a horror-themed monster flick.
The film was plagued with issues from the start. One of the biggest problems was that it tried to be too many things simultaneously. It wanted to be an action movie, a horror movie, and a comedy all at once, and it ended up being none of those things convincingly.
The script was messy, the pacing was off, and the characters were underdeveloped. But perhaps the biggest issue was that the film lacked a clear identity. It didn’t know what it wanted to be, so it failed to connect with audiences.
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In the aftermath of the film’s failure, there was a lot of speculation about what went wrong. One of the most common theories was that Tom Cruise’s influence over production was a major factor. Tom Cruise is notorious for his hands-on approach to filmmaking and has a reputation for being involved in every aspect of a film’s production.
Tom Cruise’s Involvement: The Failure of The Mummy
According to some reports, he was heavily involved in developing The Mummy and had significant creative control over the final product. However, not everyone in the film agrees that Tom Cruise’s involvement was a problem. Some have praised his commitment and dedication to the project. In an interview with The Playlist’s Bingeworthy podcast, director Alex Kurtzman had this to say about Cruise:
“This is very much a film of two halves: before Tom and after Tom. I have heard the stories about how he drives everything and pushes and pushes, but it was amazing to work with him. The guy is a great filmmaker and knows his craft. He will walk onto a set and tell the director what to do, say ‘that’s not the right lens,’ ask about the sets, and as long as you don’t fluff what you’re saying to him … he’s easy to work for.”
Opinions on Tom Cruise’s involvement in the film are divided. But regardless of whether or not he played a significant role in the film’s failure, it’s clear that The Mummy was a massive disappointment for Universal, ultimately leading to the cancellation of the entire Dark Universe franchise.
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The studio had hoped that the shared universe model, which had proven so successful for Marvel Studios, would be the key to revitalizing the classic monsters that had been a staple of Universal’s film library for nearly a century. But after the critical and commercial failure of The Mummy, those plans were scrapped, and the franchise’s future remains uncertain.