The only reason I’m writing about Alex Kurtzman‘s The Mummy (Universal, 6.9) is because I want credit for the “show me the mummy!” line. A screenwriter friend passed it along, and right away I said “that’s funny.” I’m not saying it hasn’t appeared somewhere else before (on some chat board or whatever), but I’m claiming it as an HE thing all the same, just like I put dibs on “Apocalypse Kong” for Kong: Skull Island.

In fact, I’m openly advising Universal marketing to use this line on the Mummy one-sheet…seriously. In the same way that Paramount wound up selling Mommie Dearest with Faye Dunaway‘s “no wire hangers!” line. A slogan that everyone will get right away, and which will take the heat off Universal — “Of course it’s a silly tentpole thing…what do you think those Brendan Frasier mummy movies were?…dope-crazy is what we wanted going in, it’s what we’ve got now and it’s what the popcorn crowd wants to see…relax! A stupid-ass Tom Cruise mummy flick that’ll be fun to see with your rowdy friends.”

Get real — The Mummy has seemed like a fairly silly film from the get-go, and now those chickens are coming home to roost with talk swirling around that “people are laughing at it” and that a recent test screening (which may or may not have happened in Glendale on March 8th) drew lousy numbers and that it may not be quite good enough to launch a Universal monsters franchise a la Marvel universe.

That’s what the basic game plan is — to use the success of The Mummy to generate excitement in a reboot of several classic Universal monster films — “a whole new world of gods and monsters” or words to that effect. That said, has anyone ever expected The Mummy to be anything more than a super-expensive piece of CG goofery? No. Was anyone taking it seriously when they made it? How could they? That Mummy trailer that popped last December makes it look like a satire of an absurdly expensive meta monster flick.

This is all loose talk, of course. Nobody knows anything, least of all myself. And you always need to take a few steps back when it comes to second-hand sources.

A screenwriter friend knows a guy who’s fairly close to The Mummy, and he’s hearing that the Glendale numbers weren’t good and that Universal execs are worried about the film’s commercial potential and that Cruise is distressed and that nobody wants to be part of “a shitty, hugely expensive, giantly over-budgeted movie,” and that the most recent cut of The Mummy was screened last Friday for Universal brass.

There also seems to be some concern (emphasis on the “s” word) about whether audiences will be laughing “with” The Mummy or “at” it.

Another screenwriter friend who hears stuff claims “they were laughing at it like people did at Van Helsing, and that Cruise was being so stoic and fighting CGI crap and was too old for this silliness. And, of course, somebody yelled out ‘show me the mummy!’

“Cruise was holding out for a richer deal for the next Mission, but quietly it worked out after the last Reacher film and now this.

Chris McQuarrie‘s inevitable rewrites added a layer of earnest and sanctimonious dialogue for something that should be dumb and fun, so when something inherently ridiculous takes itself too seriously, unlike the knowing and goofy Brendan Frasier version, people laugh at it…not with it.

“Apparently The Mummy tries to lay the groundwork within the film for other Universal monster adventures, a la the Marvel universe. Russell Crowe shows up as Dr. Jekyll and in his limited screen time threw the rest of the cast under the bus. [But] the audience sparked to Crowe’s appearance, still a more powerful screen presence than others in the film.”

Another guy who’s closer to the film than the friend of screenwriter #1 says “Alex and Tom know what they’re doing.”

Here’s a 12.4.16 piece I wrote about the initial trailer.