The Scorpion King

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The Scorpion King
The Scorpion King poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byChuck Russell
Screenplay by
Story by
Produced by
CinematographyJohn R. Leonetti
Edited by
Music byJohn Debney
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • April 19, 2002 (2002-04-19)
Running time
92 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$60 million[2]
Box office$180.6 million[2]

The Scorpion King is a 2002 American sword and sorcery action adventure film directed by Chuck Russell, starring Dwayne Johnson in the title role, Steven Brand, Kelly Hu, Grant Heslov and Michael Clarke Duncan. It is both a prequel and spin-off of The Mummy franchise and launched The Scorpion King film series. The film marks Johnson's first lead role. It received mixed reviews and grossed $180 million worldwide against the production budget of $60 million.

The events of The Scorpion King take place 5,000 years before the events of The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, revealing the origins of Mathayus and his rise to power as the legendary hero, the Scorpion King. The name is a reference to a historical king of the Protodynastic Period of Egypt, King Scorpion. The film was released on April 19, 2002.


Before the time of the pyramids, a horde of warriors from the East, led by Memnon, invades and conquers the local tribes, only a few of which survive. Mathayus, his half-brother Jesup, and their friend Rama, the only three true remaining Akkadians, are hired by King Pheron of the free tribes to kill Memnon's sorcerer for twenty blood rubies. The Akkadians sneak into Memnon's camp only to grapple with the guards due to having been warned by King Pheron's son, Takmet having pledged his allegiance to Memnon and killed his father as proof of his betrayal, leaving Rama killed by an arrow shot and Jesup executed. Mathayus, in the middle of this, finds Memnon's sorcerer, Cassandra, who predicts battle outcomes for Memnon and has been his prisoner since she was a child. At the end of the conflict, Memnon buries Mathayus in the desert to be devoured by fire ants at dawn. Mathayus escapes with help from a horse thief, Arpid, and desires to finish his mission and avenge his brother.

Mathayus sneaks into Memnon's stronghold, Gomorrah, and enters Memnon's palace with help from a street urchin. Memnon's sympathetic court magician, Philos, directs Mathayus to the courtyard where Memnon is training. Mathayus tries to shoot Memnon from the watchtower, but instead saves the street urchin from having his hand cut off by Takmet under suspicion of theft and barely escapes Gomorrah, abducting Cassandra along the way. Memnon sends his right-hand man, Thorak, and a group of guards to kill Mathayus and retrieve Cassandra. Mathayus slays them all under the cover of a sandstorm and in a cave, helped by Cassandra saving Mathayus from a poisonous arrow shot via her magic.

Mathayus, Arpid, and Cassandra run into Philos, who escaped Gomorrah and has perfected an explosive powder. However, they are ambushed by the rebels, now under the rule of the Nubian King Balthazar. Though Mathayus defeats Balthazar in a fight and earns his grudging respect and sanctuary, Cassandra informs Mathayus that she has a vision of Memnon and his army slaughtering the entire rebel camp. Furthermore, she explains that if Mathayus faces Memnon, he will likely die.

The next morning, Cassandra returns to Memnon in order to stall and possibly kill him. Mathayus, with help from Balthazar, Arpid, Philos, and the army of rebels, launches an all-out assault on Memnon's stronghold, facing Memnon personally before he can kill Cassandra. Balthazar takes on the full force of Memnon's forces alone and kills Takmet during the battle, thus, avenging King Pheron. The battle continues until Mathayus is shot by a guard, as predicted by Cassandra. As Memnon is about to claim victory, Cassandra kills the guard while Mathayus retrieves his bow and shoots an arrow at the exhausted Memnon, sending him off the edge of the roof and into a set of flames where he dies. Philos and Arpid use the explosive powder to destroy the palace's foundation stone, bringing down Memnon's forces. With the battle over, the remnants of Memnon's army bow before Mathayus, who by their law is proclaimed the Scorpion King.

In the aftermath, Mathayus and Balthazar share a good-natured farewell as the latter returns to his own kingdom. Cassandra tells Mathayus that she sees a period of peace and prosperity coming, but warns him that it will not last forever. Undeterred, Mathayus decides that they will make their own destiny.



The Scorpion King
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
Released26 March 2002 (2002-03-26)
ProducerVarious artists
Singles from The Scorpion King
  1. "I Stand Alone"
    Released: 18 May 2002
Professional ratings
Review scores

The soundtrack to The Scorpion King was released on 26 March 2002, just before the film was released on 19 April. It is filled with various bands performing either previous released tracks or their B-sides. The album has been certified Gold by the RIAA.[4]

Track listing
1."I Stand Alone"Sully ErnaGodsmack4:05
2."Set It Off" (Tweaker remix)P.O.D.P.O.D.4:10
3."Break You" Drowning Pool2:48
4."Streamline"System of a Down3:36
5."To Whom It May Concern"Creed5:09
6."Yanking Out My Heart"NickelbackNickelback3:35
7."Losing My Grip"
  • Chris Hesse
  • Markku Lappalainen
  • Doug Robb
8."Only the Strong"FlawFlaw4:17
9."Iron Head" (featuring Ozzy Osbourne)Rob ZombieRob Zombie4:10
10."My Life"12 Stones12 Stones3:03
11."Along the Way"Mushroomhead3:17
14."Burn It Black"InjectedInjected2:42
15."27"Justin RimerBreaking Point3:38
  • Mike Cox
  • B. Dez Fafara
  • Miguel "Meegs" Rascon
Coal Chamber3:06
Total length:1:00:41

Weekly charts[edit]

Weekly chart performance for The Scorpion King
Chart (2002) Position
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[5] 18
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[6] 38
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[7] 25

Year-end charts[edit]

Year-end chart performance for The Scorpion King
Chart (2002) Position
Canadian Albums (Nielsen SoundScan)[8] 160
Canadian Alternative Albums (Nielsen SoundScan)[9] 52
Canadian Metal Albums (Nielsen SoundScan)[10] 26


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[11] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


Home media[edit]

The Scorpion King was released on DVD and VHS on 1 October 2002.[12] The Scorpion King was later released on Blu-ray on 22 July 2008, which was one of the first Universal titles released on that format.[13] The Scorpion King was released on 4K on 18 June 2019.[14]

Video games[edit]

The film spawned two video games: The Scorpion King: Rise of the Akkadian for the Nintendo GameCube and the PlayStation 2 which served as a prequel to the film's events; and a sequel, The Scorpion King: Sword of Osiris, for the Game Boy Advance, in which Cassandra is abducted by the ruthless sorcerer Menthu and his lackey, the witch Isis (not to be confused with Queen Isis from the film), prompting Mathayus to undergo a quest to uncover the legendary Sword of Osiris and use it to defeat Menthu and Isis once and for all and rescue Cassandra.


Box office[edit]

The Scorpion King grossed $12,553,380 on its opening day and $36,075,875 in total over the weekend, from 3,444 theaters for an average of $10,475 per venue, and ranking at #1 at the box office. The film had the largest April opening weekend, beating The Matrix.[15] This record would only last for a year before being surpassed by Anger Management in 2003.[16] It then dropped 50 percent in its second weekend, but remained at #1, earning another $18,038,270. The film closed on 27 June 2002, with a total domestic gross of $91,047,077, and an additional $87,752,231 internationally, for a total worldwide gross of $178,799,308, against a budget of $60 million, making it a moderate box office success.[2]

Critical response[edit]

The Scorpion King holds a 41% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 137 reviews, with an average rating of 4.9/10. The sites' critical consensus states, "Action adventure doesn't get much cheesier than The Scorpion King."[17] Metacritic gave the film a weighted average score of 45 out of 100, based on 30 reviews.[18] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B", on a scale from A+ to F.[19]

Roger Ebert, film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times, gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, writing "Here is a movie that embraces its goofiness like a Get Out of Jail Free card. The plot is recycled out of previous recycling jobs, the special effects are bad enough that you can grin at them, and the dialogue sounds like the pre-Pyramidal desert warriors are channeling a Fox sitcom... For its target audience, looking for a few laughs, martial arts and stuff that blows up real good, it will be exactly what they expected. It has high energy, the action never stops, the dialogue knows it's funny, and The Rock has the authority to play the role and the fortitude to keep a straight face. I expect him to become a durable action star."[20] James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film two stars (out of four), saying: "It's possible to make an engaging action/adventure picture of this sort, but The Scorpion King isn't it."[21] Dennis Harvey of Variety gave a positive review, saying the film "rouses excitement mostly from stuntwork and their agility rather than CGI excess."[22] Nathan Rabin of The Onion's A.V. Club gave the film a mildly positive review, calling it "prototypical summer-movie fare, designed to be consumed, enjoyed, and forgotten all at once."[23] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a score of C+, calling it "plodding and obvious" but adding that The Rock "holds it together."[24] Jonathan Foreman of the New York Post gave a negative review, saying that The Scorpion King "has none of the qualities—epic sweep, relative originality and heartfelt bloodthirstiness—that made Conan so trashily entertaining."[25]


The film was nominated for Best Fantasy Film at the Saturn Awards but lost to The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.


Prequel and sequels[edit]

Following the film's release, there were initial plans for a sequel with Johnson to return as Mathayus and go up against a new villain, Sargon, but these plans eventually fell through and the project was shelved. A direct-to-video prequel, The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior, was released in 2008 with Michael Copon as Mathayus and Randy Couture as Sargon.

A sequel, The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption, was released in 2012 with Victor Webster as Mathayus and Billy Zane as the villain, King Talus. The fourth film in the franchise, The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power, was released in 2015.[26] Webster reprised his role, while Michael Biehn, Rutger Hauer, Lou Ferrigno and former WWE wrestler Eve Torres joined the cast.[26][27] Will Kemp portrayed the villain of the film, Drazen.

A fifth and final film, Scorpion King: Book of Souls, was in 2018. Zach McGowan played Mathayus, while Peter Mensah portrayed a villain of the film, Nebserek.


In November 2020, a remake of The Scorpion King film series was announced to be in development. Jonathan Herman will serve as screenwriter, with the plot taking place in modern-day and involving a contemporary adaptation of Mathayus of Akkad / Scorpion King. Dwayne Johnson will serve as producer alongside Dany Garcia and Hiram Garcia. The project will be a joint-venture production between Universal Pictures and Seven Bucks Productions.[28]


  1. ^ "The Scorpion King". British Film Institute. Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "The Scorpion King". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  3. ^ "The Scorpion King [Soundtrack]". AllMusic.
  4. ^ "Gold & Platinum". Recording Industry Association of America.
  5. ^ " – Soundtrack – The Scorpion King" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved March 24, 2022.
  6. ^ " – Soundtrack – The Scorpion King" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved March 24, 2022.
  7. ^ " – Soundtrack – The Scorpion King". Hung Medien. Retrieved March 24, 2022.
  8. ^ "Top 200 Albums of 2002 (based on sales)". Jam!. Archived from the original on 6 September 2004. Retrieved 23 March 2022.
  9. ^ "Canada's Top 200 Alternative albums of 2002". Jam!. Archived from the original on 4 December 2003. Retrieved 26 March 2022.
  10. ^ "Top 100 Metal Albums of 2002". Jam!. Archived from the original on 12 August 2004. Retrieved 23 March 2022.
  11. ^ "American album certifications – Soundtrack – The Scorpion King". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  12. ^ "The Scorpion King DVD Release Date June 1, 2003". DVDs Release Dates. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  13. ^ The Scorpion King Blu-ray, retrieved 13 May 2022
  14. ^ "The Scorpion King 4K Blu-ray". Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  15. ^ "'Scorpion King' dominates US box office". United Press International. 21 April 2002. Archived from the original on 6 March 2022. Retrieved 6 March 2022.
  16. ^ Gray, Brandon (14 April 2003). "'Anger' Manages April Record: $42.2 Million". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on 14 May 2023. Retrieved 14 May 2023.
  17. ^ "The Scorpion King". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media.
  18. ^ "The Scorpion King". Metacritic. Red Ventures. Retrieved 7 June 2010.
  19. ^ "SCORPION KING, THE (2002) B". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 20 December 2018.
  20. ^ Ebert, Roger (19 April 2002). "The Scorpion King". Chicago Sun-Times.
  21. ^ Review by James Berardinelli, ReelViews
  22. ^ Dennis Harvey (18 April 2002). "The Scorpion King". Variety. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  23. ^ Nathan Rabin (29 April 2002). "The Scorpion King". The A.V. Club. The Onion.
  24. ^ Review by Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly Archived 6 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ Review by Jonathan Foreman Archived 9 May 2006 at the Wayback Machine, The New York Post
  26. ^ a b "The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power (2015) (V)". IMDb. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  27. ^ "Exclusive interview: Eve Torres on life after WWE". WWE. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  28. ^ Kroll, Justin (10 November 2020). "'Scorpion King' Reboot In Works From Dwayne Johnson And Dany Garcia's Seven Bucks Productions And Universal; 'Straight Outta Compton' Scribe Jonathan Herman Penning Script". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 10 November 2020.

External links[edit]