It is unusual, though not entirely unheard of, for two studios to be developing projects that sound similar to each other at the same time. Look no further than this year’s dueling “terrorists attack the White House” films White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen. Rarer still, though, is one studio developing competing takes on the same idea in-house before today.
Vulture is reporting that Universal has hired Hunger Games scripter Billy Ray to draft a screenplay that would reset their classic horror film The Mummy in modern times. The screenplay would be in competition with one currently being prepared by Prometheus writer Jon Spaihts. Presumably, which ever one the studio likes more will be handed over to attached director Len Wiseman to shoot. Alternately, Vulture’s source claims -
My suspicion is that one of them will be a ‘structure-and-body’ man, and one’s going to be a ‘character-and-dialogue’ man — and that they’ll then just gang-bang them together into one script, crediting both writers.
Universal’s approach is not without precedent. They used it before in the Bourne franchise while Miramax tried it for their ultimately aborted Bad Santa sequel.
Whatever script the studio decides to use will have to be finished by the summer, as that is the targeted start date if the film is going to make the studio’s hoped for Summer 2014 release date.
Personally, I think that developing two scripts from which to choose is a good idea, but if the studio is looking just to Frankenstein the parts they like from each into one, they’re really asking for trouble.
Universal Studio has hired Len Wiseman to bring new life to one of their iconic monster franchise – The Mummy. Wiseman will be working from a script by Prometheus scripter Jon Spaihts for a targeted 2014 release.
Wiseman is no stranger to classic monster movie territory having launched the werewolves-versus-vampires movie series Underworld. In a statement to Deadline, he stated –
When I first heard Universal was relaunching this, that is the image that popped into my head, the period tale, the old monster, but when Bob and Alex pitched it, there was a great new take and approach, and a very different mummy as well. It’s a darker twist on the material, a scarier version.
The Mummy was one of several horror franchises that were a cornerstone of Universal Studio’s output in the 1930s. The last time Universal resurrected The Mummy was for a trilogy of films starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz and which leaned more towards light-hearted adventure rather than horror.
Supposedly this new take on the material will be darker than the Frasier trilogy. Actual story details are still be closely guarded, though Kurtzman hinted –
Without saying too much, we’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from Michael Crichton’s books, and how he ground fantastical tales in modern-day science.
Wiseman added –
One of the things that interested me with this mummy is, he’s still in essence a man. They haven’t turned his brain into a monster brain. He still has a personality and is very cunning and calculating. He’s a true character in any form, and in creature form, even if he is that staggering creature, it becomes more important that he’s a thinking, calculating person.
While a science-created horror seems more in the realm of Frankenstein than it does The Mummy, I have to admit that this does sound like an approach that could yield some interesting results. We may found out as early as summer 2014, which is when the studio is shooting to get the film in theaters.
1. Valentine’s Day (Warner Brothers, 3,665 Theaters, 125 Minutes, Rated PG-13): When viewing the ads for this film, you are struck by the magnitude of the cast. But, just to put it into perspective, here is what this cast has done. It has been nominated for 16 Oscars and has won 4. It has been nominated for 45 Golden Globes and has won 15. It has been nominated for 24 Emmys and won 2. Members of the cast have appeared on the Maxim Hot 100 list 15 times, FHM’s Sexiest women 13 times and Stuff’s 102 Sexiest Women three times. You have two former actors of the TV show Alias, two former actors of That 70s Show, and three actors that appeared on Grey’s Anatomy.
To expound on that last fact, every member of the “beginning credits” cast save Julia Roberts has acted in a role on TV series at some point of their careers. Perhaps that’s why former TV guru Garry Marshall works so well with them. That and the fact that Marshall has worked with a number of the cast in other projects.
On paper, this film looks like it can’t help to be awesome. But, really, it looks like it might not be the best romantic comedy ever. I mean, if there is a plot point where Jennifer Garner is unable to get a date, how good can the movie be? There’s suspending disbelieve and then there’s throwing it out the window.
2. Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief (FOX, 3,356 Theaters, 119 Minutes, Rated PG): When my wife saw the ads for this film, she blurted out “Great, another film that is trying to rip off Harry Potter.” Considering this film is directed by the man who directed the first two Potter films, Chris Columbus, and is adapted from a line of kid-friendly books, I feel my wife’s judgement was pretty close to spot on.
Of course, and I say this will all due respect for Mr. Columbus and his abilities as a director, but a bowl of tapioca pudding could have directed the first few Harry Potter films and fans of the books would still come out and see it. The success of that film franchise, as the post Columbus films have shown, do not depend all that much on who’s directing it.
As the numerous attempt we have seen in adapting other kid-lit favorites to the screen in attempt to capture that Harry Potter magic, it’s not all that easy. Although this film has a Clash of the Titans junior feel to it that might put it over the top. It focuses on a teen who finds out that he is descended from the Greek gods. Adventure ensues.
3. The Wolfman (Universal 3,222 Theaters, 125 Minutes, Rated R): Do you know what’s a bad sign? They were promoting this film at the 2008 San Diego Comic Con for a February 2009 release date. Now, a year later, the film is finally hitting theaters. Movies are not like wines. They do not get better with age.
This is the fourth of Universal’s remakes of its classic horror films, arriving 11 years after the last one, 1999′s The Mummy. That one was a blockbuster success, spawning a couple sequels. 1994′s Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein wasn’t and 1992′s Bram Stoker’s Dracula was an ambitious film that was moderately successful. Certainly, Universal spent so much time tweaking the film so it was more like The Mummy than Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, but they will probably be lucky if it ends up like Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
That’s because when a film is delayed so many times, a stigma develops around it. They could have crafted a film so awesome that it is the most perfect werewolf film of all time. But all audiences think is that is must have stunk to be tweaked so often. Let’s see if that is the case now.