NEW YORK – Tom Cruise was no match for Wonder Woman.
Warner Bros.’ “Wonder Woman” wrapped up Cruise’s “The Mummy” at the weekend box office, pulling in an estimated $57.2 million in North American theaters, according to studio estimates Sunday. Universal’s “The Mummy” looked its age, selling a relatively feeble $32.2 million in tickets in its debut weekend.
That couldn’t compete with “Wonder Woman” in its second weekend. The Gal Gadot superhero film, directed by Patty Jenkins, has quickly earned $205 million domestically in two weeks.
The poor North American opening for “The Mummy,” which cost an estimated $125 million to produce, meant a weak start for Universal’s ballyhooed “Dark Universe.”
“The Mummy” is intended to launch a new, Marvel-style connected franchise that resurrects many of the famous monster characters – including Frankenstein, Dracula and The Invisible Man –from the studio’s vaults.
Universal could still point to strong ticket sales internationally, where “The Mummy” grossed $141.8 million in 63 territories, including $52.2 million in China. According to Universal, it’s the biggest worldwide opening for Cruise. His star power now shines brightest overseas, where audiences have been more forgiving of the actor’s baggage.
But critics slammed the film, directed by Alex Kurtzman; it has a dismal 17 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences agreed, giving “The Mummy” a B-minus CinemaScore.
Universal distribution executives trumpeted the film’s international performance while acknowledging the North American gross left something to be desired. But should there be any doubt, it’s still full-steam ahead for the Dark Universe. Johnny Depp is already signed up to play the Invisible Man, as is Javier Bardem to play Frankenstein’s Monster. “Beauty and the Beast” director Bill Condon is set to helm “Bride of Frankenstein.”
Duncan Clark, president of international distribution for Universal, played down the connective tissue between “The Mummy” and future Dark Universe releases.
“The array of titles available for us and the talent we have coming on board for the ones coming up, they all have to operate as an individual title,” said Clark. “We’re looking forward to Bill Condon’s movie. We’re looking forward to any number of the ones in the group. I don’t think one can look at any one film that has an influence on the ten that we could possibly do.”
Universal has grown enormous franchises from humble beginnings before, most notably with the now dominant and never-ending “Fast and the Furious” movies. The success of “Wonder Woman” – now with $435 million globally – also points to a studio (Warner Bros.) pivoting after a poor response to previous DC Comics releases (“Suicide Squad,” “Batman v. Superman”).
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore, said “The Mummy” opening showed the challenge of launching a franchise with North American audiences, who are more deterred by bad reviews.
“The Dark Universe has to start somewhere,” said Dergarabedian. “It’s worth pursuing because the creative possibilities are endless. Lessons are learned from every movie. I don’t think this debut in North America should deter them from moving forward.”
Writer-director Trey Edward Shults’ “It Comes at Night” aimed for more discerning horror fans. His thriller, one of the widest openings yet for “Moonlight” distributor A24, sold a modest $6 million in tickets. That was less than most analysts expected for the well-reviewed film, starring Joel Edgerton. But “It Comes at Night” also only cost $5 million to make.
The box-office reign of “Wonder Woman” is all but certain to end next weekend when Pixar’s “Cars 3” opens.
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