When it comes to recent Hollywood franchise failures, there’s none worse than Universal‘s short-lived Dark Universe and the film that sank it, Alex Kurtzman‘s 2017 film, “The Mummy.” And what a disaster that movie was. Critics reviled the film, audiences chose to keep going to “Wonder Woman” and the latest “Pirates Of The Caribbean” movie instead, and the film tanked at the box office. Not a great way to kick off a new cinematic universe. A shame, too, since a modern update to all of the Univeral Monsters had so much potential.
Five years on, though, it’s clearer why the movie was such a failure. The main reason, according to many reports: leading man Tom Cruise and his constant meddling with every aspect of the film’s production doomed the project. And while Kurtzman hasn’t directed a movie in Hollywood since, he’s reinvented himself as a premier talent in TV, basically becoming the godfather of all things “Star Trek” on Paramount+. On top of all his work in that franchise, he also has “The Man Who Fell To Earth” ready to hit Showtime this weekend.
Looking back on “The Mummy” now, Kurtzman has no regrets. On the just-released episode of our Bingeworthy podcast, Kurtzman candidly spoke about his experience directing the film as one to be grateful for, not a disastrous misstep.
“I tend to subscribe to the point of view that you learn nothing from your successes, and you learn everything from your failures,” Kurtzman explained. “And that was probably the biggest failure of my life, both personally and professionally. There are about a million things I regret about it, but it also gave me so many gifts that are inexpressibly beautiful. 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. And 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. And as brutal as it was, in many ways, and with as many cooks in the kitchen as there were, I am very grateful for the opportunity to make those mistakes because it rebuilt me into a tougher person, and it also rebuilt me into a clearer filmmaker.”
So, in other words: whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and failure is an opportunity to improve your capacities and discover new ones. We like that growth-oriented mindset, Alex. And apparently, Kurtzman likes it, too, as he is currently lighting it up with his busy schedule. Kurtzman continues:
“Look, if you look at history and you look at people who’ve made amazing things, every single one of them will tell you the same story, which is that it came after a failure, so I look back on it now with gratitude. It took me a while to get there, but my life is better for it.”
That sounds like a filmmaker on the rebound. “The Man Who Fell To Earth” premieres on Showtime this weekend, on April 24.