'The Mummy', released June 9, 2017 in the United States, is the first entry in Universal Studios' “Dark Universe” - a cinematic franchise featuring various horror movie monsters such as 'The Wolfman' and 'The Creature from the Black Lagoon'. Universal is clearly attempting to mimic the success of Marvel Studios, whose Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to captivate audiences worldwide. More importantly Marvel generates huge profits. Unfortunately for Universal, 'The Mummy' was a critical and financial failure. Deadline.com reports that due to the failure of the film Universal lost $95 million and only 16 per cent of critics (according to review aggregate website rotten tomatoes) actually liked the film.

What went wrong

For one thing, Tom Cruise seemingly had too much free reign. According to a report from Variety, Cruise had a great deal of control over the project. Their sources claim that Cruise had was able to approve scripts and could even make changes in post-production. Furthermore, Cruise commissioned two writers to produce a new script and had friends among the screenwriters (having previously collaborated with them on films such as 'Jack Reacher'). As such, Cruise's role in the film was greatly expanded. The original script had both Tom Cruise's character and the titular Mummy sharing roughly the same amount of screen time. However, the script written by Cruise's writers had his character become possessed instead (to provide more of a dramatic arc). As such, what was originally intended to be a horror movie instead became more of a standard action film.

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It should be noted that Universal Studios' executives were less than pleased with the new script but decided to trust Cruise anyway.

Secondly, Universal hired an unsuitable director. Alex Kurtzman was made the director of this $190 million project. However, Kurtzman had never tackled a production of this magnitude before. He has served as an Executive Producer on television series such as 'Hawaii Five-O' and 'Sleepy Hollow' and had only directed one film prior to this one – the 2012 drama 'People like Us' (which had a budget of only $16 million). As a result, Kurtzman was overwhelmed by the film's scope and found himself deferring to Cruise often.

Casting of roles

Furthermore, accusations of racism may have also contributed to the films' shoddy performance. When Sofia Boutella was cast as the titular Mummy, many people took to Twitter, complaining that Hollywood had once again cast an American in a role that should have gone to an actual African. However, the complainers failed to take into account the fact that Boutella hails from the North African nation of Algeria and is thus African herself.

Perceived racism can negatively impact a film's critical and financial success. The 2016 film 'Gods of Egypt' was highly controversial even before release due to outrage over the casting of white actors in the roles of Egyptian deities. The Mummy ultimately under-performed and was negatively received (with only 15 per cent of critics liking the film according to Rotten Tomatoes).

Ultimately, it was a myriad of factors that resulted in the 'Dark Universe' falling flat on its face right out of the starting gates but there is still hope. Perhaps the 'Bride of Frankenstein' film (slated for 2019) could mirror the success of the DC 2017 film 'Wonder Woman' and get this cinematic universe up and running.