The director of Tom Cruise's The Mummy says the movie was the 'biggest failure' of his life
Movies don't get much more catastrophic than 2017's The Mummy, which critics pronounced, ahem, dead on arrival. The flick also reportedly lost Universal as much as $95 million and torpedoed plans for a "Dark Universe" franchise based on the studio's classic movie monsters. And even director Alex Kurtzman isn't staying mum about it anymore.
In a new interview on the Playlist's Bingeworthy podcast, Kurtzman got real about the Tom Cruise–led reboot, calling it "probably the biggest failure of my life," but adding that the "brutal" production was a valuable learning experience.
"I tend to subscribe to the point of view that you learn nothing from your successes, and you learn everything from your failures," Kurtzman said. "And that was probably the biggest failure of my life, both personally and professionally. There's about a million things I regret about it, but it also gave me so many gifts that are inexpressibly beautiful."
He continued, "I didn't become a director until I made that movie, and it wasn't because it was well directed — it was because it wasn't. I would not have understood many of the things that I now understand about what it means to be a director had I not gone through that experience."
The Mummy starred Cruise as a U.S. Army sergeant who accidentally unleashes the undead, ancient Egyptian Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) on the world. In the wake of its release, Variety reported that Cruise had "excessive control" over the movie, "essentially wearing all the hats and dictating even the smallest decisions on the set."
The report added that Kurtzman, who had never previously directed a film on such a large scale, "struggled to adjust to [the] scope of the project," with Cruise essentially taking the reins instead.
While Kurtzman has not helmed a feature film since, he recently returned to the director's chair for the new Showtime series The Man Who Fell to Earth, a continuation of the 1976 movie of the same name that he co-created with Jenny Lumet.
"As brutal as [The Mummy] was, in many ways, and as many cooks in the kitchen as there were, I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to make those mistakes, because it rebuilt me into a tougher person, and it also rebuilt me into a clearer filmmaker," Kurtzman said on the podcast. "And that has been a real gift, and I feel those gifts all the time, because I'm very clear now — when I have a feeling that doesn't feel right, I am not quiet about it anymore. I will literally not proceed when I feel that feeling. It's not worth it to me. And you can't get to that place of gratitude until you've had that kind of experience."
Lumet, who received a story credit on The Mummy, added that she found the experience "so valuable."
"I'd never written a very, very, very big movie, and I think that it's important to know how to do all the things," she said. "I am forever grateful for that experience... I don't think that I could be here now without that experience."
Kurtzman and Lumet's take on The Man Who Fell to Earth premieres Sunday on Showtime.
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