Universal Pictures really, really wants to get their reboot of The Mummy going. Last September the studio tapped Underworld and Total Recall helmer Len Wiseman to direct the redo of the classic monster movie for a possible 2014 release. The film will be set in present day and is described as “epic,” and Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek, Transformers) are on board to produce the pic with Jon Spaihts (Prometheus) working on the screenplay. However, Universal is now taking out a bit of an insurance policy by commissioning a separate, competing script for the film by The Hunger Games and State of Play scribe Billy Ray. Hit the jump for more details on this atypical approach.
The folks over at Vulture have learned that Universal wants to ensure that production on The Mummy gets underway later this year for its planned 2014 release, and to do that they’ve set Billy Ray to pen a separate script for the film should Spaihts’ draft not shape up to their liking. Both screenplays are set in modern day, but it’s unknown if Ray’s draft is simply a different take on the same story or if it involves new characters and such.
This is a rare occurrence, but the same approach was also taken with the in-development Bad Santa sequel, as Dimension Films also commissioned two different scripts. Vulture’s report quotes a source from Universal saying, “Studios don’t shoot movies anymore, they shoot release dates,” which is sadly a very true statement.
The report also notes that if neither draft of The Mummy works out, the studio could combine the two into a “best of” shooting script. Apparently the thinking is that one of the screenwriters will be the “structure-and-body man”, while the other would be the “character-and-dialogue man.” Ray has been one of the more prolific script doctors in Hollywood over the past few years, so I’m inclined to believe he’s likely the latter.
Nevertheless, Universal really wants to get this thing going and Wiseman is keen on proving himself adept at a big-budget tentpole flick following the box office disappointment of his Total Recall reboot last fall, so we should hear more development on the project soon as the hoped-for production start date approaches.