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The Scorpion King
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
CountriesUnited States
Budget$60 million[2]
Box office$180.6 million[2]

The Scorpion King is a 2002 action adventure film directed by Chuck Russell. The film stars Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson as the lead, with 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 $180.6 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 almost the entirety of the local tribes. No tribe is willing to fight Memnon, as his sorceress Cassandra can foresee any attack. Mathayus, along with 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 sorceress for 20 blood rubies.

The Akkadians sneak into Memnon's camp but are ambushed by guards who were warned by Pheron's son, Takmet, who pledged allegiance to Memnon and killed his father as proof of his betrayal. Rama is killed, while Jesup is captured. Mathayus finds Cassandra but spares her life before he is captured. After witnessing his brother's execution, Mathayus is buried up to his neck in the desert to be devoured by fire ants at dawn. He escapes with help from a fellow prisoner, the 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 the help of a street urchin. Memnon's sympathetic court magician, Philos, helps direct Mathayus to the courtyard where Memnon is training. Mathayus tries shooting Memnon from the watchtower, but instead saves the street urchin from having his hand cut off by Takmet under suspicion of theft. He barely escapes Gomorrah, abducting Cassandra along the way.

Memnon sends his warrior, Thorak, and a group of his men to kill Mathayus and retrieve Cassandra. He provides Thorak with an arrow tipped with scorpion venom to kill Mathayus. Mathayus detects the following group and leads them into a nearby cave under cover of a sandstorm. Mathayus kills Thorak and his men, but he is pierced with a poisoned arrow from a dying Thorak.

Cassandra heals Mathayus with her magical powers, believing that he is the world's best chance to kill Memnon and bring about peace. Although unsaid, Cassandra has secretly fallen in love with Mathayus since he had spared and rescued her from Memnon, having been his prisoner since she was a child.

Mathayus, Arpid, and Cassandra run into Philos, who has perfected an explosive powder since his escape. However, they are ambushed by the rebels, now under the rule of the Nubian King Balthazar. Mathayus defeats Balthazar in a fight and earns his reluctant respect and sanctuary, but Cassandra informs Mathayus of two visions: one where Memnon and his army slaughter the entire rebel camp, and another where Mathayus dies facing Memnon. Mathayus reassures her that he will make his own destiny and then the two make love.

The next morning, Cassandra returns to Memnon to kill him and prevent her visions. 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 Memnon's forces alone and kills Takmet during the battle, thus avenging Pheron. The battle continues until a guard shoots Mathayus, as predicted by Cassandra. As Memnon is about to claim victory, Cassandra kills the guard, while Mathayus retrieves his bow and pulls the arrow from his back. He fires the arrow at the exhausted Memnon, sending him off the roof to his death. Philos and Arpid use the explosive powder to destroy the palace's foundation, 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 peaceful farewell as the latter returns to his kingdom. Cassandra foretells Mathayus of a temporary period of peace and prosperity. An undeterred Mathayus decides that he will make his 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 March 26, 2002, just before the film was released on April 19. It contains tracks from various bands performing either previously 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

Weekly chart performance for The Scorpion King
Chart (2002) Position
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[5] 18
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[6] 12
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[7] 38
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[8] 25

Year-end charts

Year-end chart performance for The Scorpion King
Chart (2002) Position
Canadian Albums (Nielsen SoundScan)[9] 160
Canadian Alternative Albums (Nielsen SoundScan)[10] 52
Canadian Metal Albums (Nielsen SoundScan)[11] 26


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[12] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


Home media

The Scorpion King was released on DVD and VHS on October 1, 2002.[13] It was released on Blu-ray on July 22, 2008, and was one of the first Universal titles released on the format.[14] The Scorpion King was released on 4K on June 18, 2019.[15]

Video games

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 to defeat Menthu and Isis and rescue Cassandra.


Box office

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, ranking at #1 at the box office. The film had the largest April opening weekend at that time, beating The Matrix.[16] This record would only last for a year before being surpassed by Anger Management in 2003.[17] It then dropped 50 percent in its second weekend, but remained at #1, earning another $18,038,270. The film closed on June 27, 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

The Scorpion King holds an 41% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 137 reviews, with an average rating of 4.9/10. The site’s critical consensus states, "Action adventure doesn't get much cheesier than The Scorpion King."[18] Metacritic gave the film a weighted average score of 45 out of 100, based on 30 reviews.[19] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of B, on a scale of A+ to F.[20]

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."[21]

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."[22] Dennis Harvey of Variety gave a positive review, saying the film "rouses excitement mostly from stuntwork and their agility rather than CGI excess."[23] 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."[24] 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."[25] 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."[26]


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


Main article: The Scorpion King (film series)

Prequel and sequels

Following the film's release, there were 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. Webster reprised his role, while Michael Biehn, Rutger Hauer, Lou Ferrigno, and former WWE wrestler Eve Torres joined the cast.[27] Will Kemp portrayed the villain, Drazen.

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


In November 2020, a reboot of The Scorpion King film series was announced to be in development. Jonathan Herman will serve as screenwriter, with the plot taking place in the modern-day, involving a contemporary adaptation of the Mathayus of Akkad / Scorpion King character. 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. Archived from the original on 5 February 2021. Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "The Scorpion King". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on 16 December 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  3. ^ "The Scorpion King [Soundtrack]". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 9 December 2011. Retrieved 26 December 2021.
  4. ^ "Gold & Platinum". Recording Industry Association of America. Archived from the original on 2 December 2020. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  5. ^ " – Soundtrack – The Scorpion King" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved March 24, 2022.
  6. ^ "Top 100 Albums: April 18, 2002". Jam!. Archived from the original on 2 September 2004. Retrieved 20 November 2023.
  7. ^ " – Soundtrack – The Scorpion King" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved March 24, 2022.
  8. ^ " – Soundtrack – The Scorpion King". Hung Medien. Retrieved March 24, 2022.
  9. ^ "Top 200 Albums of 2002 (based on sales)". Jam!. Archived from the original on 6 September 2004. Retrieved 23 March 2022.
  10. ^ "Canada's Top 200 Alternative albums of 2002". Jam!. Archived from the original on 4 December 2003. Retrieved 26 March 2022.
  11. ^ "Top 100 Metal Albums of 2002". Jam!. Archived from the original on 12 August 2004. Retrieved 23 March 2022.
  12. ^ "American album certifications – Soundtrack – The Scorpion King". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  13. ^ "The Scorpion King DVD Release Date June 1, 2003". DVDs Release Dates. Archived from the original on 26 January 2022. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  14. ^ The Scorpion King Blu-ray, archived from the original on 13 May 2022, retrieved 13 May 2022
  15. ^ "The Scorpion King 4K Blu-ray". Archived from the original on 8 June 2022. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  16. ^ "'Scorpion King' dominates US box office". United Press International. 21 April 2002. Archived from the original on 6 March 2022. Retrieved 6 March 2022.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ "The Scorpion King". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Archived from the original on 21 September 2020. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  19. ^ "The Scorpion King". Metacritic. Red Ventures. Archived from the original on 2 February 2022. Retrieved 7 June 2010.
  20. ^ "SCORPION KING, THE (2002) B". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 20 December 2018.
  21. ^ Ebert, Roger (19 April 2002). "The Scorpion King". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 20 July 2023. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  22. ^ Review by James Berardinelli Archived 5 January 2020 at the Wayback Machine, ReelViews
  23. ^ Dennis Harvey (18 April 2002). "The Scorpion King". Variety. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  24. ^ Nathan Rabin (29 April 2002). "The Scorpion King". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Archived from the original on 6 October 2012. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  25. ^ Review by Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly Archived 6 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ Review by Jonathan Foreman Archived 9 May 2006 at the Wayback Machine, The New York Post
  27. ^ "Exclusive interview: Eve Torres on life after WWE". WWE. Archived from the original on 18 June 2018. 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. Archived from the original on 18 November 2020. Retrieved 10 November 2020.