Shawn Levy has spent much of his career earning scorn from critics for his output, essentially all of which is director-for-hire studio material. However, a fair amount of good buzz has been going around for his next movie, Real Steel; because of this sudden change in reaction, it only makes sense that he would want to continue working in a new world that he’s helped to build. Details on a sequel were already slipping out in April — mainly that screenwriter John Gatins had been hired to begin work on the follow-up.
The basic plans were confirmed to ThePlaylist by Levy himself, as he told them that “the studio’s faith is very strong,” so he’ll return to “produce and direct again.” His explanation of where things might go can be read below:
“[…] Dakota [Goyo], Evangeline [Lilly] and Hugh [Jackman] are all a big part of the sequel. It is the same characters, the next chapter. It delves into the fallout of the new fame and money that the Kentons are going to have as a result of Zeus-Atom fight. It also delves into something I thought was a cool aspect of the movie that I didn’t have time to get into, which is the class warfare between the underground unsanctioned world of robot boxing and the monetized corporately funded league. The truth is, it’s not unlike the way boxing saw its popularity contested with the rise of a more violent, less rule-bound MMA.”
Doesn’t sound too bad, although there is at least one concern on my part: Levy can be a very heavy-handed director, which means that the more allegorical aspects of this story could really hit us over the head. Everyone knows that a movie about robots who box in a ring isn’t exactly The Virgin Spring, but it doesn’t excuse clunky handling, either. Just something they should keep in mind. No matter what, we can expect robots that are “a little more trippy”; that should excuse any potential issues.
An actual release window isn’t clear, though, and for two main reasons. The first is how it will actually perform; even though the studio sees it as a hit, the director himself feels that although it “will open strong,” the weeks following a release are the most important. Basically, an announcement could be expected in November, should things go well. The second reason is more practical and at least more manageable, that being Hugh Jackman‘s schedule. With Les Miserables shooting in November and The Wolverine eyeing a start of summer, there will be a bit of a longer wait than some might expect.
Also emerging was the subject of Fantastic Voyage and Frankenstein — but he doesn’t seem to know which he’ll direct next, only that one will be shooting next spring. The first to go in front of cameras depends on “the right actors being available in the right moment.” Voyage was said to have run into trouble when Will Smith wasn’t available, although that didn’t make sense to me; how much should they struggle to get a big actor on board? The way he talked about it indicates, at least to me, that things are still happening behind the scenes with that project.
Then there’s Night at the Museum, the Ben Stiller series that’s earned just under $1 billion at the box office with two installments. Needless to say, a third is something that Fox probably wouldn’t mind having in their schedule. Neither would Levy, since an interview with Collider revealed that he would be returning to direct, along with Stiller coming back as the lead, so long as a screenplay can come together.
He said the following on it:
“That won’t get made if I’m not directing it. Ben and I, that’s our thing… The script is being written now. It’s a new version. We’ve tried a few versions. We won’t make it, ever, if we don’t get a script that feels really legit and credibly terrific. But, that being said, we’re both interested.”
So, it could happen, but only if things work out. I’m no fan of the series; it never getting made wouldn’t bother me in the slightest. But, financially speaking — as I indicated above — Fox will probably push for it to get going sooner rather than later, and I imagine that a good paycheck could pull in the required parties.
Real Steel opens on October 7th.
Are you interested in Real Steel? Does a sequel seem like a reasonable project? Would a third Night at the Museum be appealing?