5 Ways to Prep: The Mummy
By George Rose
June 8, 2017
In 2001, everything changed. No longer was Memorial Day weekend considered the kickoff to the summer movie season. Early May had begun to show promise over the years prior, with Stephen Sommer’s The Mummy rising above expectations in 1999 with a $43 million debut, the ninth largest debut at the time. Considering the Mummy character is one of Universal’s legendary horror monsters (alongside Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, etc.) and has been undead and terrorizing Hollywood for almost a century, it should shock no one that such a well branded iconic creature could command such a robust opening. The thing is, nobody knew how well an action/adventure take of a monster once considered a staple of the horror genre would fare with backdrops of bomb fire. The answer: Very well.
After opening to $43 million, The Mummy would go on to earn $155 million domestically and $415 million worldwide, all on an $80 million budget. Only two years later, the Mummy returned on May 4, 2001, and The Mummy Returns opened with $68 million. It was the largest opening weekend of all time, technically second only to The Lost World: Jurassic Park’s $72 million holiday debut over the 1997 Memorial Day weekend. Gone were the days of movies opening between $20-50 million and earning between three to six times that first weekend amount. With the new millennium and the power of the internet, we entered the age of large opening weekends followed by big drops. The bigger the initial rush, the harder the fall of following weekends. That didn’t matter to me because I was OBSESSED with the Mummy movies.
The Mummy was my very first time where I saw a film in an old restored stage theater. I was only 14-years-old and went with my cousin. We sat in the center of the first row of the upper balcony section. It was one of those perfectly serendipitous situations where I didn’t expect to see a movie that day, didn’t expect to see one of those classic monster movies that my dad would ramble on about, and I definitely didn’t expect to see this classic creature in such a classic theater setting. Needless to say, I was blown away.
Looking back, it was this fateful combination of classic creature/movie/theater/family that made me understand moviegoing was more than just about watching a film, but rather a chance to create lasting memories that could change your life forever. It was right around this time of The Mummy and the expansion of the internet that had me checking websites for movie stats EVERY SINGLE DAY… FOREVER. I was now entering the birth of my movie mania when I would become forever branded with a lifestyle surrounding film. The old me had died and I was resurrected, a mummy that could not live by feeding on souls or blood or ancient amulets; I would feed on and survive off movies.
The Mummy Returns would set another “first” for me. I made history by seeing my very first movie twice. Not in a weekend. Not in a day. Twice in four hours. I bought two tickets to back-to-back showings so that I could stay in my exact same seat that I waited patiently in line for so that I could be as centered to the screen as possible. I saw the 4 p.m. showing right after school with my friend and then again at 7 p.m. with my dad, who brought McDonald’s into the theater so I could have dinner. In 1999, my craze for movies was born; in 2001, it was mastered. I was a movie buff, whether I knew about film history or not. I knew in my heart I loved movies more than most people and nobody could tell me otherwise.