The film was directed by Rob Cohen, written by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, and produced by Stephen Sommers (director of the previous two installments), Bob Ducsay, Sean Daniel, and James Jacks.
This film departed from the previous Egyptian setting.
The story has Rick O'Connell's son Alex, now an adult, discovering the tomb of The First Emperor of China, Emperor Han. This leads Rick and his wife Evelyn to travel to China, where an evil Chinese general causes the resurrection of the Emperor.
The Emperor then tries to break an ancient curse set on him by the witch Zi Yuan so he can use his magical powers to bring his army back to life to conquer the world.
The emperor, "Emperor Han" in the film, is based on Qin Shi Huangdi of the Qin Dynasty, and the first emperor of China, not the first Emperor of the Han Dynasty, Emperor Gaozu of Han.
Box office performance
The film premiered in Moscow on July 24, 2008. With it, the first official trailer of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released. The film had a wide release of 3,760 theatres in North America on August 1, 2008.
The film was the top-grossing film the day it opened, earning $15.2 million (The Dark Knight was in second place with $12 million) on Friday. However, the film did not become number one overall in the box office on opening weekend, claiming only $40.4 million, which allowed The Dark Knight to claim the top spot for the third week in a row with $42.6 million.
The film however scored a bigger success at the international box office where it opened at the first position in 26 of the 28 released markets over the weekend and grossed over $59.5 million in the three-day period.
It substantially outpaced comparable openings for 1999's The Mummy ($16.7 million) and 2001's The Mummy Returns ($21.5 million) in the same markets. The film also set opening records for the distributor in Korea (drawing $13.3 million), Russia ($12.7 million), Spain ($6.7 million), and Thailand. As of October 10, 2008, the film's domestic total stands at $102,491,776, with a much stronger international intake of $298,636,863. This brings its worldwide total to $401,128,639.