Statistics. Statistics. As well as being one of the most enjoyable words in the English dictionary to pronounce (go on, try it now, I dare you — statistics), those little numbers can be manipulated to tell any story, especially in the ultimate storytelling realm, Hollywood. Breaking down a film's box office performance can prove any point, depending on what argument needs to be made.
Tom Cruise has been one of cinema's biggest stars for almost three decades, and The Mummy was his biggest ever global opening, making $169.3m in its opening weekend. Now in its second week of release, it has already made close to $300 million worldwide. However, twisting those statistics tells a different story — The Mummy is actually on course to lose $95 million. How can this be?
The Complex Way 'The Mummy' May Lose Mega Bucks
According to Deadline's sources, The Mummy is estimated to close with a box office total of $375 million. Using arithmetic skills that Russel Crowe would've been proud of in the Beautiful Mind, Deadline have calculated that Universal Studios could still face the significant hit due to a number of complex factors. For studios, the money trail doesn't follow a simple equation of box office gross (x) minus the budget (y) = profit (z). It's more, x+y-a+b-c+(d+e)² = z, to be precise.
The first issue for Universal is the cost of bringing the film to the big screen. Its $195 million budget is already significant in itself (compare that to Wonder Woman's budget of $149 million), but that amount almost doubles when you add on another $150 million for distribution and advertising. This adds up to a total production cost of $345 million.
The Mummy has grossed $295.5 million in two weeks but has performed poorly on US soil, with domestic income of only $58.7 million. For Universal, the slant toward foreign markets is far from ideal, as they receive a smaller slice of the #boxoffice pie. For example, Alex Kurtzman's film has earned $81.4 million in China (34 per cent of all foreign income) but the set up of the theatrical market means Universal will only see 25 per cent of any money made there. In Europe, where the slice is bigger, the film is performing poorly.
The breakdown also estimates Universal's total revenue for The Mummy, including home media and TV rights, at $250 million. Taking that away from the total of $345 million leaves the "z" of the equation at $95 million in the red, with a source telling Deadline that the film would have to make $450 million revenue to break even. That's a stark contrast to #TomCruise's "other" franchise, with Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation making $546.4m in revenue, netting Universal $110 million in sweet pie. Profit. I mean profit.
Is This Bad News For The Dark Universe?
So what do these figures really tell us? The Mummy has had a torrid time since it was released. It was critically panned, with a score of 16 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes (which may or may not mean anything, depending on how you view the review aggregator), resulting in knee-jerk doubt over Universal's proposed cinematic universe, the "Dark Universe." Further still, a source suggested all of the blame lies with Tom Cruise, who took over creative control of the project.
You could argue some of the hysteria surrounding the film's release is responsible for such a deep dive into the financial outcome. It's fair to say you don't see the true cost of every blockbuster outlined and broken down in detail, which makes The Mummy's performance look worse than it really is. Although, with these numbers out in the open, it does raise some serious questions for Universal's Dark Universe.
The only other installment with an official release date is Bride of Frankenstein, due for release in 2019, with plans also for The Invisible Man and Frankenstein. While Universal's costly venture is unlikely to completely unravel these plans, it's unsustainable for them to go ahead unless there are drastic changes in box office performance — or a reduction in production costs.
Ultimately, although statistics can be used to argue any case, for Universal these worrying statistics are well worth paying attention to.
Are you excited for more installments in Universal's Dark Universe?