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An Update on the Sequels to 9 “Bubble” Films – The Not Flops, Not Quite Megahits

Posted on the 25 October 2016 by Weminoredinfilm.com @WeMinoredInFilm

An Update on the Sequels to 9 “Bubble” Films – The Not Flops, Not Quite Megahits

"Sometimes you are left scratching your head," says Rentrak box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian. "If a movie doesn't kill at the box office, why move ahead? Studios will build franchises sometimes without the blessing of the audience."

That's what Dergarabedian told The Hollywood Reporter last summer in response to what the publication dubbed "The Terminator Dilemma," i.e., the relatively recent phenomenon of multiple intended franchise (re-)starters not making quite enough to guarantee a sequel but definitely not tanking hard enough to rule one out. If you're the studio, producers and financiers behind films like Terminator: Genisys, Godzilla, Snow White and the Huntsman, Prometheus, Jack Reacher, Edge of Tomorrow, World War Z and Warcraft how do you know it's time to cut your losses and run when you don't actually have any losses thanks to the continued robust business from international audiences? Maybe you can win back the North American audiences with a sequel after they'd had time to sample the first film on home video, and you just know the international audiences will still be there a second time around. Don't give up. If you stick at it you might end up with your own Mission Impossible or Fast & Furious, i.e., a money-printing machine which only hit its stride when producers refused to give up when the numbers seemed to suggest they should.

Or you could end up with The Huntsman: Winter's War.

Awkward cough. I think a tumbleweed just went by.

Yeah, some movies don't deserve sequels, and while that may seem obvious to all of us it's not nearly as clear to those with an invested interest, not in this day and age where "franchise" is the running currency.

So, here's where we currently stand on sequels to 9 recent "bubble" films:

Alien: Covenant (aka Prometheus 2)

Current Status of the Sequel: Wrapped filming two months ago, giving it just about a year to finalize post-production work in advance of a August 7, 2017 release date, at which point the world will be 5 years removed from Prometheus' debut. Will we even care that Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace are back in Covenant, or that Rapace's character was probably brought back just to be killed off? She was only on set for one week and Katherine Waterston is being touted as the new female lead of the character.

Prometheus writers Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindel, the latter of whom received the bulk of the blame for the film's creative failures, aren't involved this time around, replaced by a trio of new writers. Ridley Scott is still directing, though. In fact, he is practically going full-on Cameron/ Avatar on us, promising Covenant will be but the first of three new Alien films bridging the gap between Prometheus and the original 1979 Alien. Easy there, tiger. Let's just focus on Covenant, and after that maybe we can talk about sequels.

Current Status of the Sequel: Doug Liman is currently attached to direct, replacing Christopher McQuarrie, who is a bit busy prepping the next Mission Impossible movie. Screenwriting partners Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse, best known for Race, are currently writing the script.

Curren Status of the Sequel: What those fairly respectable box office numbers don't show is the 67% plunge Godzilla took in its second weekend in the States, en route to becoming one of the most front-loaded blockbusters in recent memory (that is until Batman v Superman came along). As such, it's fair to wonder if there are enough people out there who actually liked Godzilla and want a Godzilla 2 (for the record, I liked Godzilla more than most, even with the serious mismanagement of Bryan Cranston's character).

That's not the reason we still don't have a sequel, though. Chalk that more up to an inordinate amount of behind the scenes maneuvering. First, there was the little obstacle of having to wait for director Gareth Edwards to finish his work on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Then, there was the ugly divorce between Godzilla's distributor (Warner Bros.) and financier (Legendary Pictures), which led to Legendary jumping to a new deal with Universa where it went to work on a new King Kong movie. Godzilla was caught in the middle since WB still held the distribution rights. Then came Universal's surprising decision to allow Legendary to move its King Kong movie to Warner Bros. thus paving the way for an modern day Kong Vs. Godzilla somewhere down the line.

Oh, also, at some point along the way Legendary was bought by Wanda Cinema, the Chinese company which will own all of Hollywood before we know it.

Cut to the present: Gareth Edwards is out, Krampus' Dan Dougherty is possibly in, reportedly set to co-write and currently negotiating to also direct. There's a due date, not just for Godzilla 2 (March 22, 2019) but also for King Kong Vs. Godzilla (May 29, 2020). Godzilla 2 will be one of the inaugural Hollywood productions to be filmed at Wanda Cinema's Qingdao Movie Metropolis facility, which now offers arguably the single most generous tax incentive/rebate program in all of the world.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

An Update on the Sequels to 9 “Bubble” Films – The Not Flops, Not Quite Megahits
What the First Film Made:

Current Status of the Sequel: Um, it just came out in theaters. I wrote a review yesterday morning. It opened to $54m at the worldwide market this weekend, 28% higher than Jack Reacher 's 2012 debut. The sequel might end up being a bigger hit than its predecessor, a best case scenario for "bubble" franchises. It's still a little too early to say that for sure, though.

Current Status of the Sequel: Steven DeKnight will direct. Guillermo Del Toro will produce. It will be filmed in China at Wanda's Qingdao Movie Metropolis facility, and released on February 23, 2018. Or so they say. There have already been so many canceled release dates for this ill-fated project, which will feature an entirely new cast led by John Boyega, playing the son of Idris Elba's character.

The Huntsman: Winter's War

Current Status of the Sequel: Out, bombed, already forgotten, although, honestly, it's not that bad, at least depending on your tolerance for blatant Frozen mimicry and stilted Chris Hemsworth acting. You could argue Winter's War is the clear cautionary tale on this list, the sequel no one wanted which was made anyway and bombed accordingly. However, Winter's War is also unqiue on this list in that it's really more of a spin-off/prequel than direct sequel. Kristen Stewart literally screwed the director of the first film, and the resulting media circus overshadowed the studio's carefully planned publicity strategy. Of course, any press is good press and all that, but that's the kind of thing which leads a studio to drop Snow White almost completely from its Snow White franchise and instead focus on its version of Thor and a couple of vengeful witches.

It might also be a natural attempt at course-correction, taking note of what people responded to in the first film (the Huntsman, Charlize Theron as the villain), what they criticized (Stewart's performance), etc. Either way, pretty epic fail, considering Huntsman 's anemic box office: $48m domestic/$164m worldwide compared to a $115m production budget. Well, at least they slashed the budget for the sequel, but the smarter move would have been not making a sequel at all.

Surprisingly, the big winner of this whole ordeal has been Kristen Stewart, who has retreated into indie films in recent years and surprisingly re-emerged as a respected actress.

Current Status of the Sequel: Paramount and Skydance bet big on Genisys, dating two sequels and tentatively planning a tie-in TV series. As such, they wouldn't let a little thing like domestic failure stop them. Instead, they set a goal to make $150m in China, referring to that as their automatic greenlight level. They came up around $40m short. Well, I guess [wait for obligatory Arnold pun] the Terminator won't be back after all.

An Update on the Sequels to 9 “Bubble” Films – The Not Flops, Not Quite Megahits

Not so fast. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dana Goldberg, the COO of the production company ( Skydance) behind Genisys, keep insisting there will be another Terminator movie, and that they are simply re-adjusting their franchise plans right now. Yeah, screw that noise. Emilia Clarke's out, telling ComingSoon when asked if she'd be reprising her role as Sarah Connor, "No. Can I say that? It's okay. No. Uh-uh. But I have some very different roles coming up." It's time to [wait for yet another obligatory Arnold pun] terminator this franchise.

What the First Film Made:

Current Status of the Sequel: Up in the air. Director Duncan Jones would like a second crack at it, but it's noteworthy when Wanda recently announced Godzilla 2 and Pacific Rim 2 as the inaugural Hollywood productions to be filmed at Wanda Cinema's Qingdao Movie Metropolis facility there was no mention of Warcraft 2 even though all three films share the same financier. However, Warcraft made $220m in China. The company behind it, Legendary Pictures, is now a subsidiary of a Chinese conglomerate. That same conglomerate just opened a world class movie production facility which it is desperate to fill up with Hollywood productions. All of those don't necessarily add up to a Warcraft 2, but, gosh, it sure seems like they do.

Current Status of the Sequel: There's a release date (June 9, 2017), but they only just started negotiating with a potential director, David Fincher, two months ago and no pre-production work has been completed.

Sources: BoxOfficeMojo (All Box Office Figures), The-Numbers.com (All Home Video Figures)

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