Recently, Deadline Hollywood posted a story about how Joesph Kosinski has become the most successful first-time director of all time with Tron Legacy, narrowly beating J.J. Abrams’ Mission: Impossible: III, and nearly making $400 Million wordwide. This story, and the recent round of publicity for the film has got the rumor mill going yet again. Disney stirred up the pot by saying they’re working on a script, which Kosinski told us in his recent interview. What is the state of a Tron Sequel?
Bottom line: Disney is still trying to sell this movie. Nothing was more telling than Kosinski saying that
Joesph Kosisnki: A lot of people who didn’t catch it in theaters are going to discover it, and I think they’re going to be pleasantly surprised.
Why would Disney ramp up the speculation for a third film? To drive sales on this release, which may attract the curious to pick this up sight unseen. But from Kosinski’s words the film did not have the saturation that was hoped for. Kosinski also said:
JK: We’ll see after the TV’s out, and the Blu-ray’s out for a while if we’ve built a bigger fanbase.
Scripts are the single easiest aspect of pre-production. In the scheme of a $200 Million dollar film, they tend to cost the least and are easily discarded.
So why drum the film’s box office success? It’s due to box office reports at the time not painting the film in a flattering light. They want the world to think of the film as a success. If a film is a blockbuster and some haven’t seen it, they might want to give it a try because everyone else has. Warner Brothers did something similar with Superman Returns, and if there is a parallel film it’s to that man of steel reboot, which made $200 Million domestic and also made nearly $400 million worldwide. And that film also had sequel rumors after release.
The difference between Superman and the universe of Tron is that Superman has decades of awareness. Everyone knows Superman, most people know Lex Luthor. That said, Disney has already committed to a Tron TV show. As Kosisnki said, nothing is going to go forward until the DVD and Blu-ray sales come in and if people respond to the universe enough to get people to watch the show. Disney would surely love to see their franchise move forward, but they’re still in “wait and see” mode. If they weren’t they wouldn’t have let Kosinski’s Oblivion go out to other studios. This is the very definition of bet-hedging.
What we haven’t seen yet is damage control, which usually comes with a film that has mixed to bad word of mouth and was something of a disappointment. If the tides turn we’ll see the film’s stars or director or writers eventually talk about “the mistakes.” Right now Disney is trying to build or create a narrative that the film was successful. But even if the film has made money, in the court of public opinion they’re hoping the case isn’t closed.
Of course, none of this means they can’t reboot the franchise in a couple of years – but, unlike comic book films, the awareness they would be building on is the awareness of something an audience didn’t go for in the past. Then again, the relative failure of Mission: Impossible: III seemed to suggest that series had run its course, and they’re making a fourth film now. This is partly because studios want tent-pole releases, and a brand is a brand.