‘Won­der Woman’ buries re­booted ‘Mummy’

The Washington Times Daily - - LIFE - BY JAKE COYLE

NEW YORK | Tom Cruise was no match for Won­der Woman.

Warner Bros.’ “Won­der Woman” wrapped up Mr. Cruise’s “The Mummy” at the week­end box of­fice, pulling in an es­ti­mated $57.2 mil­lion in North Amer­i­can the­aters, ac­cord­ing to stu­dio es­ti­mates Sun­day.

Uni­ver­sal’s “The Mummy” looked its age, sell­ing a rel­a­tively fee­ble $32.2 mil­lion in tick­ets in its de­but week­end.

That couldn’t com­pete with “Won­der Woman” in its sec­ond week­end. The Gal Gadot su­per­hero film, di­rected by Patty Jenk­ins, has quickly earned $205 mil­lion do­mes­ti­cally in two weeks.

The poor North Amer­i­can open­ing for “The Mummy,” which cost an es­ti­mated $125 mil­lion to pro­duce, meant a weak start for Uni­ver­sal’s bal­ly­hooed “Dark Uni­verse.”

“The Mummy” is in­tended to launch a new, Mar­vel-style con­nected fran­chise that res­ur­rects many of the fa­mous mon­ster char­ac­ters — in­clud­ing Franken­stein, Drac­ula and The In­vis­i­ble Man — from the stu­dio’s vaults.

Uni­ver­sal could point to strong ticket sales over­seas, where “The Mummy” grossed $141.8 mil­lion in 63 ter­ri­to­ries, in­clud­ing $52.2 mil­lion in China. Ac­cord­ing to Uni­ver­sal, it’s the big­gest world­wide open­ing for Mr. Cruise, whose star power shines bright­est in­ter­na­tion­ally where au­di­ences have been for­giv­ing of the ac­tor’s bag­gage.

But crit­ics slammed the film, di­rected by Alex Kurtz­man; it has a dis­mal 17 per­cent “fresh” rat­ing on Rot­ten Toma­toes. Au­di­ences agreed, giv­ing “The Mummy” a B-mi­nus Cin­ema-Score.

Uni­ver­sal dis­tri­bu­tion ex­ec­u­tives trum­peted the film’s in­ter­na­tional per­for­mance while ac­knowl­edg­ing the North Amer­i­can gross left some­thing to be de­sired.

But should there be any doubt, it’s still full­steam ahead for the Dark Uni­verse. Johnny Depp al­ready is signed up to play the In­vis­i­ble Man, as is Javier Bar­dem to play Franken­stein’s Mon­ster. “Beauty and the Beast” di­rec­tor Bill Con­don is set to helm “Bride of Franken­stein.”

Dun­can Clark, pres­i­dent of in­ter­na­tional dis­tri­bu­tion for Uni­ver­sal, played down the con­nec­tive tis­sue be­tween “The Mummy” and fu­ture Dark Uni­verse re­leases.

“The ar­ray of ti­tles avail­able for us and the tal­ent we have com­ing on board for the ones com­ing up, they all have to op­er­ate as an in­di­vid­ual ti­tle,” said Mr. Clark. “We’re look­ing for­ward to Bill Con­don’s movie. We’re look­ing for­ward to any num­ber of the ones in the group. I don’t think one can look at any one film that has an in­flu­ence on the 10 that we could pos­si­bly do.”

Uni­ver­sal has grown enor­mous fran­chises from hum­ble be­gin­nings be­fore, most no­tably with the now dom­i­nant and never-end­ing “Fast and the Fu­ri­ous” movies.

The suc­cess of “Won­der Woman” — now with $435 mil­lion glob­ally — also points to a stu­dio (Warner Bros.) piv­ot­ing af­ter a poor re­sponse to pre­vi­ous DC Comics re­leases (“Sui­cide Squad,” “Bat­man v. Su­per­man”).

Paul Der­garabe­dian, se­nior me­dia an­a­lyst for com-Score, said “The Mummy” open­ing showed the chal­lenge of launch­ing a fran­chise with North Amer­i­can au­di­ences, who are more de­terred by bad re­views.

“But the Dark Uni­verse has to start some­where,” said Mr. Der­garabe­dian. “It’s worth pur­su­ing be­cause the cre­ative pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less. Lessons are learned from ev­ery movie. I don’t think this de­but in North Amer­ica should de­ter them from mov­ing for­ward.”

Writer-di­rec­tor Trey Ed­ward Shults’ “It Comes at Night” aimed for more dis­cern­ing hor­ror fans. His thriller, one of the widest open­ings yet for “Moon­light” dis­trib­u­tor A24, sold a mod­est $6 mil­lion in tick­ets. That was less than most an­a­lysts ex­pected for the well-re­viewed film, star­ring Joel Edger­ton. But “It Comes at Night” also only cost $5 mil­lion to make.

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