We’ve seen it a number of times in Hollywood. Two movies with the same subject going head to head with each other. Two asteroid flicks in 1998 with Armageddon and Deep Impact.
Two werewolf flicks with An American Werewolf in London and The Howling. And two Snow White movies last year.
In some cases, both movies can do well, in other cases, one is the victor, and in the case of the Snow White flicks, both went in the tank. Now with the reboot of the Mummy, there won’t be two Egyptian undead flicks, but two Mummy scripts set up at Universal for the same movie. Confused? So were we at first, so let’s cut through the confusion.
There’s still only one Mummy reboot in the works at Universal, and the studio is really itching to get it in theaters by 2014 with Len Wiseman (Underworld, Total Recall) directing. Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, the screenwriters of the nu Star Trek, are producing, and Jon Spaihts (Prometheus) is writing the initial script.
But Universal wants to hedge their bets with this one, and according to Collider and Vulture, they’ve hired on Billy Ray, screenwriter of The Hunger Games, to pen a script as well. Whoever comes up with the best script wins. This may sound unusual even if you follow Hollywood closely.
Typically, a studio pays for a script, the writer stays on for a draft or two, and then they either hire somebody else to rewrite it, or toss the script and start over from scratch with someone else.
Then again, with many of the recent James Bond films, they would reportedly hire a number of writers to pen separate scripts, use the best pieces from each script, and put them all into one screenplay. Tom Mankiewicz, who wrote most of the 70’s James Bond films and the Christopher Reeve Superman, had the distinction on Live and Let Die of being the only writer on the project the whole time.
Vulture also reports the two scripts approach is happening with the sequel for Bad Santa. All we know about The Mummy so far is that both screenplays are to take place modern day. You also get the impression that with zombies being so popular these days, the powers behind the new Mummy film could be looking at this as an Egyptian zombie film.
Again, Universal really wants to get this franchise reboot up and running quick, and as often happens with big tent-pole films, a script is often the last consideration. Too many rewrites can send the story in too many directions at once, so let’s hope that with the talent involved, a good script is going to be considered an important element to having a successful reboot.