Open Letter to Alex Kurtzman and the rest of Universal’s DARK UNIVERSE
Heads must be spinning over there. Just about every entertainment news site on the web ran a piece about the latest studio’s waaayy below opening weekend expectations for another woefully misguided attempt at aping Marvel’s enviable shared universe paradigm. Or as Universal calls it, The Mummy.
The studio is quick to crow about Mummy latest pushing past the $3 billion mark overseas. Huzzah and all, just don’t try and pretend having a hit at home isn’t the standard for success. If that were the case, Domestic Marketing would be advertising The Mummy as “The #1 Movie In Bangladesh.”
Here’s the thing: even if they were to hear about it, domestic audiences don’t give two shits in a tin cup about what a movie grosses across the pond. Just curious, does somebody at Dark Universe imagine a conversation going something like:
Dark Universe: “Hey, have you seen my first movie, The Mummy?”
Domestic Audiences: “Meh… it was like watching a runner desperately trying to catch up in a race entered in ten years too late.“
DU: “But it made nearly triple the money overseas! China loved it!“
DA: “In that case, it was great! Can we have some more, please?”
They want a great movie. Most would even settle for a good one. The Mummy was neither.
Maybe it had something to do the screen story & screenplay credit going to six different writers. Quick quiz: is it usually a good sign when a movie has a one writer with a single screenplay credit or when it has six split between story and script? Although… there is a screenplay credited to seven writers. And they got nominated for an Oscar. Bet you can guess how many writers were on the script they lost to. The twist? That writer is one of the six credited on The Mummy.
(and yeah, asshat, I know that every script goes through different drafts, passed around town like Robert Downey Jr.’s character at the end of Less Than Zero. That’s why I stressed credited writers. And with half a dozen writers winning arbitration to split Mummy pie, chances are – in total – double the number did a pass on the script.)
By some shrewd fluke, The Mummy is the only title Universal has had any success in resurrecting. That right there is a huge red flag. I’d wager the creature committe under Alex Kurtzman didn’t even a discuss the top drawer names in Universal’s monster arsenal to launch their blandly monikered Dark Universe. I loved how in a December 2016 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Kurtzman makes the gender swap seem as if by epiphany when, aside from the change in eras, it was the only option open in order to avoid being confused with 1999’s previous incarnation.
Here’s the thing: forget the Mummy. Especially considering what happens at the end of the movie. Now it’s so far removed from the source material, there’s just no going back. The first step in trying to keep the Dark Universe from bleeding out too quickly?
Take care of the Dr. Jekyll problem. Or to the point, his Hyde.
There hasn’t been a favorable take on Russell Crowe as Mr. Hyde. Critics and audiences alike seem to have been holding their breath for something… more. Can you blame them? All “Eddie Hyde” has to offer in change is new skin hue and eye color. I’ve been telling those holdouts to exhale if they think the notoriously tempermental Crowe was going to go the Fredric March route. No way, no day was Rusty subjecting himself hours in the makeup chair to be layered with prosthetics. Nope, all that’s needed is color timing and cartoon cockney accent.
Here’s your real epiphany: no one ever said the same actor has to play both Jekyll and Hyde. That’s the leaping off point. Good news is, I’ve done the jump for you and provided a sizzle reel, if you will, of just one direction the Dark Universe should take the plunge into. If it hopes to save itself. Enjoy.
As always, you’re welcome.