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Exclusive: Story Behind 'The Mummy' Reboot First Trailer Footage with Director Alex Kurtzman

The Mummy Sofia Botella scary

The first full THE MUMMY trailer hits the web Sunday, and CineMovie got an exclusive behind the scenes narrative from director Alex Kurtzman regarding the direction of THE MUMMY which kicks off Universal Pictures reboot of the classic monster universe (Frankenstein, Wolfman, Dracula, etc). Alex Kurtzman shared his vision for the THE MUMMY starring Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe, and how it will shape the movies in the Universal Pictures’ monster universe.

Before watching the new THE MUMMY trailer, behind the scenes look and an exclusive clip, Alex Kurtzman started off the conversation by  distancing his MUMMY reboot, opening June 9, 2017, from the Brendan Fraser movies . THE MUMMY will be a throwback to the classic movie monsters from Universal Studios which produced the horror and suspense series between the 1920s through the 1950’s often starring, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, and Lon Chaney, Jr.

Set in modern day, Alex Kurtzman’s THE MUMMY stars Tom Cruise and Jake Johnson whose characters unearth the tomb of an ancient princess. Russell Crowe is Dr. Jekyll who is part of a secret organization conspiring to unleash hell on earth with monsters from the past. Kurtzman presented an exclusive clip that will not be shown to the public on how Crowe’s character may be a consistent character in Universal’s monster universe. More of that story below.

The Mummy Tom Cruise Annabell Wallis

Kurtzman first presented the trailer which premieres Sunday. The first preview is action-packed as you would expect from a blockbuster, but it’s not all about the flash, says Kurtzman. It will be character-driven movie with real pathos to ALL the characters including the Mummy played by Sophia Boutella. The action propels the story, but Kurtzman says in a “psychologically frightening tone.”

“That’s the kind of fear that starts the movie and ends with the end of the movie. It carries you all the way through. The key is to figure out how to hold the audience in that state of suspense. Action isn’t mutually exclusive of that. Those two things can totally exist.”

Kurtzman spoke in length about his vision for THE MUMMY. As a fan of the original Universal monster movies, the writer turned director referred to the 1931 Frankenstein movie starring Boris Karloff as the monster. In that movie, Frankenstein is both feared by the villagers, but the viewer has sympathy for the monster who is set up like a naive child who doesn’t know any better. The scene that best illustrates that is when Frankenstein meets the blind little girl who’s not afraid of him. He inadvertently kills her by accident. Kurtzman’s approach to the monster(s) in THE MUMMY will be in that vain. “You fear the monster, but you are afraid for it as well.” That will also define the monsters in the future Universal monster movies.

Another tidbit he revealed during the presentation was that Cruise may not save the day. The Cruise name is synonymous with action so Kurtzman wanted to play opposite that.

“The first thing we did was figure out a story that was going to remove the equation of Tom Cruise saving the day. Now it’s interesting because we’ve never seen Tom where he won’t be the hero.

Another revelation is the Mummy’s powers in reboot. Like in the classic movies, the Mummy is able to control the mind of others. That will be played up here. The film will explore what the princess represented in her past and in the present day. I predict that’s how the sympathy card will be played by knowing the monster before she became an atrocity.

Speaking of villains, the writer behind the STAR TREK reboots and TRANSFORMERS also provided insight about Russell Crowe’s Dr. Henry Jekyll character.

“He’s definitely the antagonist, and not exactly the villain, but he does do bad things for understandable reasons,” teased Kurtzman.

The Mummy Russell Crowe

Kurtzman treated the select number of press to a rough clip with no visual effects during our exclusive look, which will not be made public. Tom Cruise’s Nick Morton and Annabelle Wallis’ character Jenny are forcibly brought to Dr. Jekyll’s lab where the resurrected Princess Ahmanet is chained up in some sort of experiment, looking pretty evil. There Dr. Jekyll explains his association to a secret organization looking to find these monsters and transform them into something far more evil. He thanks Nick for uncovering one of them (the Mummy) tells him he’s been cursed by the Mummy, and the only way to break from it is to help him.

In the newly released trailer, Tom Cruise goes down with the plane, but he strangely survives the violent crash. The curse may be the reason he’s still alive.

Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll is rather menacing in the exclusive clip, but we don’t get a glimpse of his alter ego Mr. Hyde. While promoting THE NICE GUYS earlier this year, Crowe teased that this well-known character was a far more scarier version he had ever seen which prompted him to sign up   alongside longtime friend Cruise. When I asked Kurtzman about a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde transformation, he confirmed there will be one, but again he couldn’t say how much scarier it will be given Dr. Jekyll is already up to no good.   

By the sound of it, Russell Crowe may be the common denominator in Universal’s shared Monster Universe. The main issue Kurtzman tackled was how to introduce Dr. Jekyll organically so he fits into the story and articulate this world to the audience.”

Kurtzman is the first director to tackle this shared monster universe so not only did he have to deliver a stand alone movie, but set up elements that will carry on to other Universal movies in this universe.

The Mummy Sofia Botella

The set up was important to Kurtzman because he insists you can’t go into a shared universe right away.
 

“If you start taking characters that they may know from literature or from other movies and throw them together in one movie quickly, then you don’t give them the chance to fall in love with each of character individually.  It feels like a cynical endeavor and I started to say I don’t want that. Don’t sell me a universe before you actually make me care for them.”

Kurtzman credits Universal Pictures with creating the first true shared universe with their monster classics. They’re stand alone movies featuring Frankenstein, Wolfman and Dracula eventually led to the classic monsters squaring off with each other in future movies.

“The reason it worked was because the audience had a relationship that ran deep. That’s going to be their approach.”

That’s how we should begin to understand how the Mummy fits in. The story will exist in a larger set of stories because “you can’t rob story of power,” continues the 43-year-old director.

Marvel has had success with that very strategy, while Warner Bros. has struggled with their DC Universe crossover films by doing the opposite by rushing their different properties to the big screen.

However, as Alex Kurtzman pointed out in the exclusive presentation, Universal Pictures had success with their classic monster movies, and the studio intends to follow in the same path with a new shared monster universe.

So while the new THE MUMMY trailer doesn’t tell you all of the above, now you know what we learned during our presentation with THE MUMMY director Alex Kurtzman.

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