The Mummy is a 1999 American adventure film written and directed by Stephen Sommers and starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah and Kevin J. O'Connor, with Arnold Vosloo in the title role as the reanimated mummy. It is a loose remake of the 1932 film of the same name which starred Boris Karloff in the title role. Originally intended to be part of a low-budget horror series, the movie was eventually turned into a blockbuster adventure film.
Filming began in Marrakech, Morocco, on May 4, 1998, and lasted seventeen weeks; the crew had to endure dehydration, sandstorms, and snakes while filming in the Sahara. The visual effects were provided by Industrial Light & Magic, who blended film and computer-generated imagery to create the titular Mummy. Jerry Goldsmith provided the orchestral score.
The Mummy opened on May 7, 1999, and grossed $43 million in 3,210 theaters during its opening weekend in the United States; the movie went on to gross $416 million worldwide. The box-office success led to a 2001 sequel, The Mummy Returns, as well as The Mummy: The Animated Series, and the spin-off film The Scorpion King. Seven years later, the third installment, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, opened on August 1, 2008. Universal Pictures also opened a roller coaster, Revenge of the Mummy, in 2004. Novelizations of the movie and its sequels were written by Max Allan Collins.
In Thebes, Egypt, 1290 BC, high priest Imhotep engaged in an affair with Anck-su-Namun, the mistress of Pharaoh Seti I. When the Pharaoh discovered their tryst, Imhotep and Anck-su-Namun murdered the monarch. As Seti's guards arrive, Imhotep fled while Anck-su-Namun killed herself, intending for Imhotep to resurrect her. After Anck-su-Namun's burial, Imhotep and his priests stole her corpse and travelled to Hamunaptra, the city of the dead, where they began the resurrection ceremony. However, they were intercepted by Seti's guards before the ritual could be completed, and Anck-su-Namun's soul was sent back to the Underworld. Imhotep's priests were mummified alive; Imhotep was sentenced to immortal agony, condemned to suffer the Hom Dai curse, buried alive with flesh-eating scarab beetles. He was buried under high security, sealed away in a sarcophagus at the feet of a statue of the Egyptian god Anubis, and kept under strict surveillance by warriors known as the Medjai; for all humanity would be doomed should he resurface.
Over 3000 years later in 1926, Jonathan Carnahan presents his sister Evelyn, a Cairo librarian and aspiring Egyptologist, an intricate box and map which Jonathan says he found in Thebes. After the pair discover the map leads to Hamunaptra, Jonathan reveals he stole it from an American adventurer named Rick O'Connell, currently in prison. Evelyn and Jonathan visit Rick; he tells them that he knows the location of the city because his unit of the French Foreign Legion found the location years ago. He makes a deal with Evelyn to reveal the location of Hamunaptra, in exchange for Evelyn saving Rick from being hanged.
Rick leads Evelyn and Jonathan's small expedition to the city, where the group encounters a band of American treasure hunters led by the famed British Egyptologist Dr. Allen Chamberlain and guided by Beni Gabor, a cowardly former comrade of Rick. Shortly after reaching Hamunaptra, the expeditions are attacked by the Medjai, led by the warrior Ardeth Bay. Ardeth warns them of the evil buried in the city, but despite his warning, the two expeditions continue to excavate in separate portions of the city. Evelyn searches for the Book of Amun-Ra, a solid gold book reportedly capable of taking life away, but comes across the remains of Imhotep instead. The team of Americans, meanwhile, discover a box containing the black Book of the Dead, accompanied by canopic jars carrying Anck-su-Namun's preserved organs; Chamberlain steals the Book of the Dead while each of the Americans pockets a jar as loot. Before opening the box, Chamberlain reads an engraving saying that any and all who open the box are cursed if Imhotep is awakened. The men ignore the warnings, but Beni refuses to assist them, and flees.
At night, Evelyn takes the Book of the Dead and reads a page aloud, accidentally awakening Imhotep. The expeditions flee to Cairo, but Imhotep follows them with the help of Beni, who bargains with Imhotep; the antagonist promises not to kill Beni in return. Imhotep absorbs the life from the American expedition, returning to full strength. Seeking a way to stop Imhotep, Rick, Evelyn and Jonathan meet Ardeth at a museum. After Evelyn reveals that Imhotep referred to her as Anck-su-Namun in Hamunaptra, Ardeth and museum curator Terrence Bay hypothesize that Imhotep wants to resurrect his lover again and will do so by sacrificing Evelyn. Evelyn muses that if the Book of the Dead brought Imhotep back to life, the Book of Amun-Ra can kill him again. After discovering the location of the Book, Imhotep corners the group with an army of slaves. Evelyn agrees to accompany Imhotep if he spares the lives of the rest of the group. Imhotep goes back on his word and leaves his slaves to kill the group anyway. However, Rick discovers an entrance to the sewers and they escape. Terrence sacrifices himself to buy the others time to escape.
Imhotep, Evelyn and Beni return to Hamunaptra, pursued by Rick, Jonathan, and Ardeth. Evelyn is rescued after an intense battle with Imhotep's mummified priests, and she reads from the Book of Amun-Ra. Imhotep becomes mortal, and Rick stabs him, forcing him into the River of Death. Rapidly decaying, Imhotep leaves the world of the living, vowing revenge with the same words he carved into his sarcophagus, Death is only the beginning. While looting treasure from the pyramid, Beni accidentally sets off an ancient booby trap and is trapped by a swarm of flesh-eating scarabs as Hamunaptra collapses into the sand. The heroes escape, although they lose the Book of Amun-Ra in the process. Rick, Jonathan and Evelyn ride off into the sunset on a pair of camels laden with Beni's treasure.
- Brendan Fraser as Rick O'Connell
An adventurer who served in the French Foreign Legion. Producer James Jacks offered the role of Rick O'Connell to Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck but the actors were not interested or could not fit the role into their respective schedules. Jacks and director Stephen Sommers were impressed with the money that George of the Jungle was making at the box office and cast Brendan Fraser as a result; Sommers also commented that he felt Fraser fit the Errol Flynn swashbuckling character he had envisioned perfectly.
- Rachel Weisz as Evelyn Carnahan
A clumsy yet intelligent Egyptologist. Evelyn undertakes the expedition to Hamunaptra to discover an ancient book, proving herself to her peers. Rachel Weisz was not a big fan of horror films but did not see this film as such. As she said in an interview, "It's hokum, a comic book world."
- John Hannah as Jonathan Carnahan
Evelyn's bumbling older brother, whose primary goal is to get rich; he signs on for the trip to Hamunaptra after learning from Evelyn that the city is supposed to be where the ancient pharaohs hid "the wealth of Egypt." Jonathan is also a thief; he steals the key needed to open the Book of Amun-Ra from Rick in prison, and manages to pickpocket the same key from Imhotep during the film's climactic battle.
- Arnold Vosloo as High Priest Imhotep
One of Pharaoh Seti I's most trusted advisers, Imhotep betrays his sovereign out of love for Anck-su-namun. He is cursed and slowly killed for his treachery, but is resurrected 3,000 years later. South African stage actor Vosloo understood the approach that Sommers was going for in his screenplay, but only agreed to take on the role of Imhotep "if I could do it absolutely straight. From Imhotep's point of view, this is a skewed version of 'Romeo and Juliet'."
- Kevin J. O'Connor as Beni Gabor
A former soldier in the French Foreign Legion, like Rick. Beni is obsessed with wealth, but also extremely cowardly; he betrays his employers when faced with Imhotep's wrath, who takes him as his servant when Beni prays in what Imhotep recognizes as the "language of the slaves".
- Oded Fehr as Ardeth Bay
A Medjai and protector of the city.
- Patricia Velásquez as Ankh-sun-Namun
- Bernard Fox as Captain Winston Havlock
An ally of Rick.
- Erick Avari as Dr Terrence Bey
The curator of the museum as well as a Medjai.
- Omid Djalili as the warden
He joins Rick, Evelyn and Jonathan on their expedition.
- Stephen Dunham, Corey Johnson, Tuc Watkins, and Jonathan Hyde
They play members of the American expedition.