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Last week, Heat Vision was in attendance as director Alex Kurtzman showed off the trailer and extra footage to a small group of reporters, and revealed details of Universal’s planned shared universe featuring its monsters (Javier Bardem is on board for a future Frankenstein film, while Johnny Depp has signed on for The Invisible Man).
A shared universe is among the hottest — and trickiest — propositions for a Hollywood studio. Marvel has done it to great acclaim, and DC earned hundreds of millions at the box office this year following suit. But there’s also been plenty of faltering too. Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) was criticized for spending so much time setting up follow-ups (such as the villain team-up Sinister Six) that it lost sight of making a great film.
Kurtzman said that making a great movie first is the key.
“It’s not so much building a universe. It’s ‘Make a great Mummy movie.’ Now, if in the context of making a great Mummy movie, you can plant the seeds for something else, fantastic,” said Kurtzman. “But the only way you can get there is if those seeds can be planted organically and if it can be part of The Mummy story, first and foremost.”
Here are some more tidbits Kurtzman dropped, as well as a behind-the-scenes look:
There may be never be an Avengers with monsters …
“There has to be some kind of unifying reason if you’re going to do something like that. By the way, maybe they don’t come together in one movie. We aren’t necessarily going to do The Avengers,” Kurtzman said. “There might be reasons for this character and that character to come together because of storytelling, because that’s what the story wants. The story is what drives the choices. If down the line there’s a big reason to bring them together, great. But I promise you, we are not starting there.”
The monsters have been around for thousands of years …
“You will come to understand [that] the Mummy exists in a continuum of monsters and they have been around for potentially longer than we have. Part of why we wanted to start with The Mummy was she was one of the oldest ones. She’s 5,000 years old,” said Kurtzman of the film’s villain, played by Sofia Boutella.
Tom Cruise’s character is “morally challenged” and might not save the day …
Kurtzman said a big challenge was creating tension and overcoming the notion that Cruise’s character will win in the end (after all, Cruise has decades of film history behind him doing exactly that). The Mummy creative team decided Cruise’s character will be cursed — and at times under the control of the Mummy.
“The Mummy is making you do things you don’t want to do. You’re cursed. You don’t know what’s going on. Suddenly, you made a very unreliable protagonist. When you do that, all bets are off,” said Kurtzman.
Russell Crowe could be the key to the universe …
Based on footage Kurtzman showed to reporters, it appears Russell Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll could serve as a Nick Fury type (the character played by Samuel L. Jackson in the Marvel universe), tying things together for the shared universe. Kurtzman says the creative team debated for quite some time whether they should include a recognizable name like Jekyll in this film, and ultimately decided it was the right call, with Jekyll’s organization Prodigium responsible for tracking the monsters.
“We wanted to understand the context of the Mummy in the larger world and we wanted to know that monsters had existed for millennia, and we knew as the story evolved, we wanted there to be an organization who had been cataloging them and been following them,” said Kurtzman. “And we said, ‘Well, we could make up a character who is going to be the voice or we could look to monster mythology and say, “Is there a character who could organically fit into the story, that wouldn’t detract from the Mummy story, but would in fact enhance it?”‘”
The Universal film also stars Courtney B. Vance, Annabelle Wallis and Jake Johnson.
The Mummy hits theaters June 9, 2017.
Dec. 5, 8:34 a.m. Updated with additional behind-the-scenes footage video.
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