Threequels are cursed.
Or at least, they seem to be.
Paramount and Bad Robot’s third Star Trek film is the latest movie to suffer from Threequel-itis. Production recently stopped just as it was gearing up to start, when Star Trek 2009 co-writer Roberto Orci left the director’s chair, along with his team of screenwriters. Now, Fast Six director Justin Lin and Scotty himself, writer Simon Pegg, have the unenviable task of getting the film rewritten and shot in time for a Summer 2016 release.
RELATED: Simon Pegg to Co-Write ‘Star Trek 3’
In light of Star Trek 3: The Search for More Time’s production woes, let’s take a took back at some other notable sequels that also had a hell of time getting to a theater near you.
Following mixed reviews for 1992’s Batman Returns and below-expectations box office, Warner Bros. wanted to “lighten up” Batman’s world for his third outing. Burton and Keaton bailed, and director Joel Schumacher and Val Kilmer stepped in to deliver a considerably less dark take.
Casting issues soon followed, with Robin Williams the favorite for playing the Riddler until Jim Carrey’s then-rising star earned him the role instead. It took three years to lock down talent above and below the line. Once the film arrived in June 1995, audiences found the Dark Knight’s world teeming with over-the-top villains and a worrisome abundance of neon and black light.
It was one of 1995’s biggest hits, which justified the protracted development process and, shudder, the birth of Batman & Robin. In retrospect, this is one threequel that may have been better off left to burn in Development Hell.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III
In 2004, over $35 million dollars was spent developing a take from The Grey director Joe Carnahan before he left the high-profile sequel. Before him, even more money was spent when David Fincher was attached in 2002, with his scenario rumored to involve illegal organ trafficking — marking a significant tonal shift for the escapist-fare franchise.
Casting rumors about Carrie Anne-Moss and Scarlett Johansson being attached made headlines as the film took a back seat until star/producer Tom Cruise could find a filmmaker able to accept this mission.
Enter J.J. Abrams, who co-wrote and directed this underrated but entertaining installment. Despite M:I:III‘s inventive set pieces and exciting action, it performed below expectations at the box office. (And given the costs held against it from the previous directors’ scenarios, the film was already set up to fail in recouping those dollars.) Disappointing financial returns, along with Cruise’s “couch jumping” antics, led to a very public divorce between Cruise and Paramount, where the former had a long-standing production deal.
The good news? Abrams was picked to bring new life to another Paramount franchise — Star Trek.
It’s ironic that the man who stepped in to save this threequel arguably hurt another — Trek 3 — by leaving it.
Mission Impossible: III wasn’t David Fincher’s first troubled experience with a sequel.
After years spent working on several undercooked drafts of the story — the most infamous involving a wooden planet home to a sect of space monks — Ripley’s further adventures battling the xenomorph eventually got the greenlight with then first-time director Fincher, having made his name on music videos, became attached to the project.
A flawed script and a meddling studio’s lack of confidence in their director led to the film’s well-publicized troubles, with Fincher later putting significant distance between him and the costly misfire over the years. A “Producer’s Cut” of the film, one honoring most of Fincher’s intended vision for the project, was released on DVD more than a decade ago, along with a very candid documentary chronicling the infamous production.
While plans for a third Ghostbusters movie have been discussed since the 1989 release of the underwhelming Ghostbusters II, production rumors hit all-time high levels over the last few years — culminating with the recent announcement of Paul Feig’s all-female cast reboot.
Before then, there was no soundbite Dan Aykroyd made that the internet didn’t blog about in regards to the threequel’s potential greenlight.
Various scripts were commissioned, most notably from The Office scribes Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, that reportedly centered on both the original Ghostbusters and a new generation set to wear unlicensed, nuclear accelerators on their backs. (Before them, a 1999 draft of the film by Aykroyd — titled Ghostbusters: Hellbent — took place in a hellish version of Manhattan plagued by terrible spooks, specters and ghosts.)
At one point, Ben Stiller was rumored to be the favorite to lead the new film, when it was believed that Bill Murray would not be returning to the franchise. (In a 2010 interview with GQ, Murray would call his rumored return to the franchise “crazy talk.”)
Everyone from Seth Rogen to Jonah Hill were considered for roles in the film at one time, and in March 2014, following the death of co-writer and star Harold Ramis, original Ghostbusters helmer Ivan Reitman formally stepped down as director. In January 2015, Feig re-assembled his Bridesmaids team of Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy to help usher in the next chapter, slated to hit theaters July 22, 2016.
X-MEN: THE LAST STAND
No list of troubled threequels is complete without discussion of a movie so problematic, an entire other movie was made (Days of Future Past) to pay for and retcon its sins. Ouch.
The success of X2 came at a time when Warner Bros. was eager to get their long-gestating Superman reboot off the ground. Bryan Singer took his X2 writing team with him to make Superman Returns, and Matthew Vaughn stepped into the troubled production.
With 20th Century Fox pushing for the mutant cure storyline to be mixed with the Dark Phoenix one, coupled with the stressors of getting a production of this size off the ground mid-stream, Vaughn seemed to have found himself in an untenable position. He soon left the film, and Brett Ratner stepped in.
You know the rest.
Which of the above Part 3’s is your favorite? Do you have one to add? Sound off in the comments below.
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