UMU recently got to read an early Jon Spaihts’ draft of “The Mummy” which is out next June and stars Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella. Based on the draft, will Universal Monsters fans be happy? Or is “The Mummy” just a Tom Cruise movie released by Universal?
Over this past weekend, one of UMU’s sources provided us with an early draft of Jon Spaihts’ script for The Mummy. As excited as we were to know we had such a possession, there was some concern over what we would ultimately do. Would we read it and just enjoy it for ourselves? Maybe write something in regards to it for supporters of ours and fans of the film? These are only two of the questions you ultimately have to face in rare moments like these and while we are all excited for the upcoming monster movie, we at Universal Monsters Universe ultimately want to do right by the cast, crew, and studio working on a picture we know we’ll love. There will always be some moments one has to pass on, but based on the nature of this, we think it’s alright and we hope you enjoy.
However, we must state a few things.
- While what we’re about to discuss is an early draft of The Mummy with a July 2013 date, please be warned that we will discuss minor SPOILERS, so if you don’t want to know any more than the plot synopsis and what we’ve already written about on UMU, don’t read any further.
- We know you’re eager to know everything about The Mummy and the ideas/thoughts/motivations behind the story. The Mummy is an important Universal Monster and with this being the film to launch the Monsters Universe, it’s important that it has a strong foundation to support the rest of the monsters. But please don’t bother asking us to send the script out to you. We love you all, but we cannot send it nor would we expect anyone to send to us if we were in your place.
- If asked to remove or take down this particular post, we will absolutely do so.
—SPOILERS FOLLOW!!! And while “Death is only the beginning,” a movie spoiled is a movie ruined!—
The script for Jon Spaihts’ The Mummy has a July 2013 date and could very well be the first or one of the first drafts of the film. If I were to venture a guess, the script I read was the initial draft as Variety announced Spaihts as being tapped to write the reboot back in April 2012. There seems to be reports of a November dated script along with two versions, with one containing a male antagonist and the other a female. The Hollywood Reporter first spoke of Universal’s options back in October of 2015. In the draft I read, along with previous reports on the film, the mummy is a male and is supposed to be King Ashurbanipal of Assyria.
“I see it as the sort of opportunity I had with ‘Prometheus’: to go back to a franchise’s roots in dark, scary source material and simultaneously open it up to an epic scale we haven’t seen before,” Spaihts had said when first announced as the writer of The Mummy. It’s evident that, based on his initial story, that he accomplished everything that he wanted to do. While The Mummy doesn’t rely all too much on the Nina Wilcox Putnam and Richard Schayer story for the 1932 original, it is definitely more horror than the Stephen Sommers 1999 version. While Sommers’ 1999 version was horror by way of Indiana Jones, I’d venture to say that Spaihts’ version is horror by way of Lovecraft. Reading the screenplay nearly confirms the overarching idea that Tom Cruise’s involvement with The Mummy is partially based off of the failure of Guillermo Del Toro’s planned adaptation of “At The Mountains of Madness,” in which he was set to star.
So what happens in Jon Spaihts’ The Mummy? What do we know and what’s something that hasn’t been said before? The film opens up with a Navy SEAL team in the Persian Gulf infiltrating what they believe may be a terrorist bunker. We’re immediately introduced to the team, which has a bit of a Stargate (movie, not show) team vibe to it, and they’re led by TYLER COLT. Colt seems pretty evidently written with Tom Cruise in mind as he “flashes a cowboy grin,” and the script informs us that “the more dangerous the situation is, the cooler he gets.” He does things that we’d expect to see in an action/adventure starring Tom Cruise such as infiltrating the bunker via an oil pipeline on the sea floor as opposed to going in by helicopter. The nature of Tyler Colt/Tom Cruise/TC being interchangeable doesn’t stop here; they’re are plenty of TC moments.
As we already know, the Navy SEAL team infiltrates the bunker, but it turns out to be an ancient tomb. Think the opening of Blade: Trinity, but actually psychologically terrifying. The team of VAIL, HACKETT, CARVER, BARROWS, WEISS, MUNROE, and GOMEZ soon succumb to source less voices whispering an ancient language inside the tomb. The “guttural chant” they hear is an incantation and this is when the mission goes awry. They all turn on each other as TYLER COLT (TC) makes his way through a labyrinth, an antechamber, and a tunnel, and finally “The Sarcophagus Chamber.” It’s here that we first encounter The Mummy and where TC essentially inadvertently awakens and, for like of a better word, mind-melds with the monster. Naturally, being TC, he ends up fighting his way out of the tomb and runs. A lot.
The rest of The Mummy takes place two years after the opening and we learn that TC is “wary: a stray dog.” He has visions of The Mummy and Assyria, along with having nightmares at unforeseeable times. TC also has a star shaped scar on his right hand from touching the sarcophagus. The way Jon Spaihts characterizes TYLER COLT is very interesting and it seems like Tom Cruise has been sticking pretty close to the script. If all translates, we could very much be looking at a performance similar to his roles in movies like Edge of Tomorrow and War of the Worlds.
The movie, by page 17, already has introduced JENNY HALSEY (Annabelle Wallis), LORENZO MONTANARI, PROFESSOR SHEPARD, and COLONEL GIDEON FORSTER (Courtney B. Vance). JENNY is an archaeologist who essentially steals back artifacts to return to their rightful places. She’s also an expert on the ancient. LORENZO MONTANARI and PROFESSOR SHEPARD are subsidiary characters who return later on.
The Col., working for a secret division in the Defense Department, wants to bring TC back to the tomb, along with JENNY whom we learn is a bit like Nathan Drake from the Uncharted video game series, and a few expendable others to obtain a particular artifact. They go, The Mummy is released, and the majority of the film follows closely to what has already been released. Aside from setting differences such as parts of The Mummy taking place in Rome instead of London, and several other absences, it’s clear to see the shell of what The Mummy will be when it releases on June 9, 2017.
In this particular version of the screenplay, we are missing the following:
- The Mummy is not “an ancient queen whose destiny was unjustly taken from her.” Yet the characteristics and look of The Mummy is most likely what we’re going to get on film. The iconic Universal Monster is described as “muscular and strong. His skin scrawled everywhere with ARCANE SYMBOLS.” This could easily translate to Sofia Boutella and if I were to venture a guess – the image that came to mind when reading how The Mummy was described was Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) in Suicide Squad, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Boutella looks something like that.
- Jake Johnson’s character has NOT been written in yet. We meet the soldiers in the beginning with TC, but other than when the next team reenters the tomb two years later, it’s hard to say where exactly Jake Johnson will appear.
- The same could be said for Russell Crowe’s Dr. Henry Jekyll. While there are mentions of a larger world filled with “gods and demons,” we are never given a reference to Dracula, Frankenstein, or The Invisible Man. Dr. Henry Jekyll, along with Jake Johnson’s military role, has been added along the way and was never initially conceived during the first drafts.
The Mummy is spooky and while this initial version doesn’t really play to the beat of any previous Mummy movies, it has the potential to be one of the scariest in regards to imagery more so than actual jump scares. We see many visions of the Underworld – hellish landscapes, monsters, imagery of damnation and torture. It’s in these sequences that creature performer Javier Botet immediately jumped out!
Will The Mummy satisfy fans of the classic and of the 1999 reboot? Yes! Mind you, what I read was only an early version of Jon Spaihts’ screenplay that existed during a time well before Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan entered the picture. The Mummy, here, exists as essentially a stand alone reboot to the Brendan Fraser series in an era of horror movies like The Conjuring and Annabelle. It has the sensibilities of modern horror while also maintaining a smart approach to telling the story in as organic and natural a way. Jon Spaihts is a very gifted writer and let’s not forget that while he is credited as one of the writers behind Prometheus, it was his original Alien version that was rewritten by Damon Lindelof that led to the disappointment and messy film we saw on screen. Spaihts’ version has been quite well received and he’s also the writer behind Doctor Strange (a movie Zack Rosenberg of Tumblr cannot wait to see).
It will be fascinating to see The Mummy in full next year and to see what Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan have brought to the film. We know the movie now exists in a much more reverential way to the classic ’32 picture and 1959 Hammer version starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. But while mostly all of the ideas are original, fans should enjoy what they see. The ideas of sorcery, dominion, and taking control of the mind are all basic concepts found across The Mummy movies over time and it’s great seeing them play out in this.
For the official plot synopsis, please see below:
“Tom Cruise headlines a spectacular, all-new cinematic version of the legend that has fascinated cultures all over the world since the dawn of civilization: The Mummy.
Thought safely entombed in a crypt deep beneath the unforgiving desert, an ancient queen (Sofia Boutella of Kingsman: The Secret Service and Star Trek Beyond) whose destiny was unjustly taken from her is awakened in our current day, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia and terrors that defy human comprehension.
From the sweeping sands of the Middle East through hidden labyrinths under modern-day London, The Mummy brings a surprising intensity and balance of wonder and thrills in an imaginative new take that ushers in a new world of gods and monsters.”
The Mummy is directed by Alex Kurtzman, from a script by Jon Spaihts. The film stars Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson, Marwan Kenzari, Courtney B. Vance, Russell Crowe and Sofia Boutella as the iconic creature now revealed to be an ancient queen. The film opens June 9, 2017.
(Steven Biscotti – @reggiemantleIII)