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Universal Pictures Signs Filmmaker Stephen Sommers To Multi-Year Term

(November 14, 2001)
Universal Pictures has signed filmmaker Stephen Sommers ("The Mummy," "The Mummy Returns") to a multi-year term deal to write, produce and direct films for the studio, it was announced by Mary Parent and Scott Stuber, presidents, production. The announcement comes on the heels of the record-breaking video and DVD bow of Universal's smash hit sequel, "The Mummy Returns," on which Sommers served as writer and director. The film has earned $419 million in worldwide box office to date.

Sommers is currently in the process of writing a new untitled project for the studio which will be a re-imagining of another classic property in the tradition of "The Mummy."

Said Ms. Parent and Mr. Stuber, "Stephen is that rare filmmaker who embraces the exuberant joy and excitement that we all experienced as children falling in love with the movies. He always aspires to capture the larger-than-life fun of movie-going in his films. And while he is an extremely gifted storyteller who inspires actors with his enthusiasm, he is also a superb technical craftsman who knows exactly what he wants in any given shot."

Added Stacey Snider, chairman, Universal Pictures, "Since Stephen came on board for the first 'Mummy' three years ago, Universal has been the unofficial home to this immensely talented and imaginative filmmaker. Today I'm absolutely delighted to say that we are now his official home, an arrangement we hope will last a very long time."

"The Mummy Returns," an action-adventure thrill ride starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Oded Fehr and Patricia Velasquez, launched Universal's Summer 2001 with a record-breaking opening weekend of $68.1 million in domestic box office and later became the first film to cross the $200 million milestone overseas in 2001. The worldwide box office tally for "The Mummy Returns" has reached $419 million.

Breaking all existing records in home entertainment, the Universal Studios Home Video release of "The Mummy Returns" registered the biggest first week in the history of DVD with consumers purchasing more than two million units of the record-breaking initial shipments of 4.5 million DVDs. The combined DVD and VHS sales of "The Mummy Returns" have racked up more consumer sales in the first week than any other title since "Toy Story 2," with the DVD besting the biggest DVD of all time: "Gladiator."

Its predecessor, "The Mummy," took the world by storm two years earlier. Loosely based on Universal's 1932 classic starring Boris Karloff, it earned $43 million in its first weekend at the domestic box office and has since grossed more than $404 million worldwide. It was also the top-selling live home video action title of 1999, debuting at the top of the Billboard sales charts, where it held the number one spot for three consecutive weeks. In addition, "The Mummy" was the second best-selling DVD title of 1999, shipping more than one million units.

Sommers is one of the writers and producers of "The Scorpion King," Universal's upcoming spinoff of "The Mummy" series, starring WWF superstar The Rock as the title character. Inspired by the legendary Egyptian warrior, "The Scorpion King" is an action adventure set 5000 years ago in the notorious city of Gomorrah. Scheduled for release next spring, the film also stars Michael Clarke Duncan and is directed by Chuck Russell.

In addition to "The Mummy" and "The Mummy Returns," Sommers wrote and directed "The Adventures of Huck Finn," starring Elijah Wood and Jason Robards, "The Jungle Book" with Jason Scott Lee, Cary Elwes, Sam Neill and John Cleese, and "Deep Rising," starring Treat Williams and Famke Janssen. Sommers wrote and executive produced "Tom And Huck" with Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Brad Renfro. For television, he wrote and executive produced "Oliver Twist," again working with Wood as well as Richard Dreyfuss. He attended St. Johns University and The University of Seville in Spain and earned a Masters Degree from the USC School of Cinema-Television.

Universal Pictures is a unit of Universal Studios (, a part of CANAL +, the TV and Film division of Vivendi Universal, a new global leader in media and communications.

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