As of this weekend, Michael Bay’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon has made over $645 million worldwide in 12 days, a massive yet not unexpected feat that has already pushed Paramount past the $1 billion mark before any other studio this year. The domestic total alone is $261 million, meaning it is the highest-grossing movie of 2011 and has easily recouped the roughly $195M production budget ponied up for a third CGI-laden explosion-fest, with much more to come.
Ordinarily, those kind of numbers would mean an instant sequel in development. Talent deals would be hashed out, budgets drawn up, familiar stories slapped together, and its off to the races again with high hopes of more millions. Just like what we’re seeing with an inevitable fifth Pirates of the Caribbean at Disney with more of the same starring Pirate Johnny Depp. But what if the players don’t want to return?
Shia LaBeouf says he’s not coming back. Michael Bay insists his next project is the “small” dark comedy Pain & Gain. Megan Fox has been exiled. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, well… her schedule’s wide open. Hopefully John Turturro has better things to do.
However, losing the series’ director and star won’t stop producer Don Murphy, who fielded questions on his own message board(?) about the franchise’s future. I’m not a member of the Murphy Fan Club, but Transformers forum TFW2005 snagged the quote:
“What happens next? Certainly not a reboot. We haven’t lost the Transformers. They didn’t grow up or become expensive like Toby Maguire. I don’t know what happens next. I’m pretty sure there will be a second trilogy. I am pretty sure it will kick ass. And I am pretty sure some of you will hate it because it wasn’t all bots.”
A second trilogy, not a reboot. Meaning a continuation of the largely incoherent trilogy that exists, chaotic character designs and all. That sounds like a terrible idea — though not as bad as the Murphy-produced 1994 movie Double Dragon starring Scott Wolf.
There are a number of existing trilogies I’d rather see get a second run. In fact, here’s six:
Let’s shake it up with the first continuation we would love to see: another Bourne trilogy. And by “it,” I mean the camera. Paul Greengrass, known for the often nauseating aesthetic, passed on a fourth and Matt Damon followed suit, setting up the inevitable continuation.
Luckily, once Greengrass and Damon walked, Universal re-hired series screenwriter Tony Gilroy to pen (and direct) the fourth installment, which he insists is not a reboot of the original trilogy but an expansive continuation of sorts centered on a new mysterious hero. That highly-trained amnesiac will be played by the ubiquitous Jeremy Renner.
After all the comparisons to the James Bond series (now on its 23rd movie), why not replace the lead and move on? Damon was great. The indisputable Sean Connery of the series (without the slushy Scottish brogue). But the “Bourne identity” itself begs to be passed on to new blood, and Renner is a stellar replacement. August 2012.
If Tron and ENCOM can be revived after 28 years, then there’s no reason Hollywood can’t dust off 1987′s RoboCop and Omni Consumer Products. With some 21st century tweaks to the technology and a sleek, shiny new cyborg suit, RoboCop could easily ride again.
MGM has been trying to reboot the series, even attaching Darren Aronofsky at one point before their $4 billion debt shut down pre-production. Aronofsky found better things to do and MGM recently hired Brazilian filmmaker Jose Padilha.
Forget the reboot. Why not just continue the series into the future? Peter Weller bailed by the third installment any way (he was replaced by Robert Burke), and the basic premise of reviving fallen police officers in robot bodies lends itself to casting a new mouth to peek out under the helmet. Then dream up a fresh arc on corporate greed — if you can, we live in a veritable utopia, right Lehman Bros.? I’d buy that for $1.89! (Friggin’ inflation.)
Rumors of a Jurassic Park 4 seem to surface annually and inexplicably, like a new TV show starring Mark-Paul Gosselaar. My personal favorite JP4 story was the possibility of a fourth movie that would focus on strapping automatic weaponry to the sides of T-Rex heads, though that ridiculous plot obviously never came to fruition.
The latest is that Steven Spielberg is reportedly taking meetings to hash out a story for another installment with I Am Legend screenwriter Mark Protosevich. Though Spielberg’s jam-packed schedule and other ambitions may keep him from directing dinosaurs again, a hands-on production with an envelope-pushing auteur would be good enough for me. Just get another team of unsuspecting scientists to poke around in the jungle with dangerous prehistoric experiments.
So the third movie was a bit of a disappointment. It’s still better than Transformers 3.
What we need is a big budget, R-rated reminder of when vampires were bad ass, at a time when bloodsucking is a strange source for teenage angst and forbidden love. Revive our vampiric hero with sharp-edged swords and automatic weaponry. Bring back the blood, betrayal, and stylin’ sunglasses.
Sure, Blade: Trinity was a little dull and rusty, but the series is salvageable enough as long as he’s not saddled with another sexy sidekick or pun-slinging partner.
Unfortunately, Wesley Snipes is 48 now and serving a stint in a Pennsylvania prison for the “willful failure to file federal tax returns,” so he’s not thwarting evil demonic forces any time soon. Well, at least not in a theater… His projected release date is July 2013. Plenty of time for him to set up Blade 4: Bladier and install the latest version of TurboTax.
Star Wars: Episodes 7-9
Technically this would be the third trilogy, but I’m sure most Star Wars fans won’t complain while the rest swear the prequels don’t exist. But I think we can all agree it’s time.
George Lucas is already milking this cash cow until its dry, then dead, then beaten like a horse. He’s already lining up six years worth of 3-D re-re-releases for each of the episodes, exploiting the technology and fans alike. Plus the “Clone Wars” cartoon and a live-action TV series in a constant state of pre-production, neither of which use the main characters Lucas introduced, developed, and abandoned a long, long time ago.
What became of Luke, now a powerful Jedi Master? How did Han and Leia work out? What up with Chewie? These are the burning questions on the back of every Star Wars fan’s mind. Well, those that haven’t read the stellar Thrawn trilogy by Timothy Zahn, a trilogy of novels set five years after Return of the Jedi. Those answers and more, including the introduction of awesome female ass-kicker Mara Jade, smuggler extraordinaire Talon Karrde, and the new villainous leader of the Empire, Grand Admiral Thrawn.
I suppose a third trilogy is a long shot at this point, but keep your fingers crossed Lucas stays greedy enough to return to his intergalactic sandbox once again. (Though hopefully not as the director.)
Care Bears Heir
Hollywood is already reviving ’80s cartoon properties and nostalgic toy lines for maximum box office impact. Why not another? Why not the Care Bears, the walking, talking denizens of the Kingdom of Caring — more specifically Care-a-lot.
1985′s The Care Bears Movie captured our very hearts and minds. 1986′s Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation challenged us to rediscover their origins. And 1987′s The Care Bears Adventure in Wonderland was… well, it was pretty awful. A rapping Cheshire Cat?
There’s never been a series more ripe for a theatrical revival. What became of Grumpy Bear, Dark Heart, and the Great Wishing Star? I think we all want to know. When can we once again stare at the Care Bears doing the Care Bear stare? Let’s get that Caring Meter moving!
(Really, just about anything could go here, because anything is better than three more brain-bashing Transformers films.)
What about you? What existing trilogies would you like to see get a second set of three? Mad Max? Bad News Bears? The Godfather (God forbid)?