The Mummy Proves that Universal’s ‘Dark Universe’ Isn’t Going Away Anytime Soon

As predicted, The Mummy is a hit.  No, really, it is.  Seriously. Although panned by critics and ignored by audiences stateside, Universal’s strong marketing and Tom Cruise’s indominable overseas star power made the first movie in the ‘Dark Universe’ a huge hit internationally.  For the second week in a row, it’s beaten out Wonder Woman for the top-grossing movie worldwide: a movie that continues to dominate week after week in American theaters.

You’ll be forgiven if you didn’t see this one coming.  Nobody cared about The Mummy domestically, not the least reason for which being the grossly inappropriate implications of the movie’s climactic fight scene.  The international markets were a bit more forgiving and less inclined to care about what Tom Cruise’s character was doing to the woman he was forcing himself on top of.

The scant $14 million it made in America this weekend put it at a distant fourth place at the weekend box office.  Thanks to its continued popularity elsewhere, however, it has already more than doubled its impressive $125 million budget.  It has made almost $300 million internationally, and will doubtless make substantially more before it leaves theaters altogether.

This is the hard truth of the 21st century film industry.  America is no longer the beginning, middle and end of a blockbuster’s financial lifespan.  It’s an important part, to be sure, but the international market is increasingly carrying movies that Americans simply didn’t have an appetite for: like Warcraft.

This means, of course, that the predicted abortion of the ‘Dark Universe’ will ultimately not come to pass.  It made more than enough money elsewhere in the world to offset its losses in America.  It ultimately serves as a proof of concept for the franchise and, more importantly, that there’s an eager audience for it the world over.

And that’s fine.  Really, it is.  Although The Mummy was genuinely terrible, it wasn’t a complete wash.  If Universal can get a handle on how unutterably dull all the Prodigium worldbuilding was and correct its troubling view of women, it could turn into the disposable blockbuster franchise de jour: a different flavor for the increasingly punch-heavy Shared Universe business model — a refreshing pallet cleanser between Avengers and Justice Leagues.

It’s an uphill climb, but The Mummy‘s success may have bought Universal the time it needs to sort its messes out.

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