You don’t need me to tell you that the original THE MUMMY is one of the long standing tenets of horror, the third classic Universal picture following DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN, and one that featured a singularly iconic performance by legendary Boris Karloff, aided with tremendous makeup by Jack Pierce and directed by DRACULA auteur Karl Freund. But I just did anyways.
THE MUMMY is no stranger to sequels, remakes, or reboots. Just eight years after the original, Universal released THE MUMMY’S HAND, which didn’t pick up the original storyline nor featured any of the same characters. The film spawned three sequels, with Lon Chaney Jr. taking over as the Mummy for THE MUMMY’S TOMB, THE MUMMY’S GHOST, and THE MUMMY’S CURSE.
Fast forward to 1959, when the infamous Hammer Studios lent their take on the classic story, remaking THE MUMMY’S HAND in the form of (you guessed it) THE MUMMY. Three more Mummy films followed suit through the 1960′s (THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY’S TOMB, THE MUMMY’S SHROUD, and 1971′s BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB), though they had nothing to do with the original or each other, acting as stand alone pictures.
Forty years after Hammer’s take on THE MUMMY, Stephen Sommers created the action adventure horror franchise with Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, and Arnold Vosloo. It was a tremendous box office success, if not a critical one, and spawned two sequels (THE MUMMY RETURNS, THE MUMMY: THE TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR) as well as a prequel series starring the Rock when that’s all we knew him as (THE SCORPION KING, and a direct-to-DVD sequel). Oh, the series also spawned a Universal roller coaster and two video games.
It’s been five years since DRAGON EMPEROR, but that appears time enough for a new take on THE MUMMY, as another reboot is in the works. Originally planned for a summer 2014 release, that’s clearly ambitious due to the development strife that has already plagued the project since its announcement.
K/O Paper Products, which apparently is not an OFFICE reference, is in charge of production. That means Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, the writing and producing team extraordinaire are the driving vision behind the remake. The duo have put their stamp on practically every brand of genre fare since the 90′s, having worked on XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS, ALIAS, EAGLE EYE, STAR TREK, COWBOYS & ALIENS, FRINGE, HAWAII FIVE-O, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS, NOW YOU SEE ME, and the upcoming ENDER’S GAME, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2, SLEEPY HOLLOW TV show, and VAN HELSING reboot.
The relaunch was originally tasked to director Len Wiseman, the man behind UNDERWORLD and the recent TOTAL RECALL remake. Luckily for us, due to scheduling concerns, Wiseman has left the project. As of now, no one has stepped into his shoes, and it’s fair to wonder if this project might fizzle up.
The remake’s script comes from PROMETHEUS’ Jon Spaihts. He mentioned that he plans “to go back to [this] franchise’s roots in dark, scary source material.”
Kurtzman on their take: “We’re reaching into the deep roots of ‘The Mummy,’ which at its beating heart is a horror movie and then an action movie, and putting it into a context that is real and emotional. 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. Without saying too much, we’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from Michael Crichton’s books, and how he ground fantastical sales in modern day science.” (Deadline)
The script, like many in Hollywood, has since been given to a second writer to rewrite. Enter Billy Ray, screenwriter of THE HUNGER GAMES, BREACH, VOLCANO and the upcoming 24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY TV special to lend his wares to the project.
Now, that’s where I come in. Yes, reboots piss people off, but as THE MUMMY’s history illustrates more than most, reboots have been happening since the dawn of Hollywood, and they’ve been known to produce good work (or at least enjoyable work). What follows is what I would do to make this newest iteration good: by choosing a dream director and picking a cast.
First off, here’s a possible title: CURSE THE MUMMY’S GHOST FOR GETTING BLOOD ON MY HAND, FORCING ME TO RETURN MY SHROUD TO THE TOMB I STOLE IT FROM. Catchy, right?
On deck: The Director.