Actor Thomas Jane, who's been very popular with fans, sent a letter to Ain't It Cool News announcing that he was dropping out of the sequel to his 2004 Marvel movie.
"What I won't do is spend months of my life sweating over a movie that I just don't believe in," Jane wrote. "I've always loved the Marvel guys, and wish them well. Meanwhile, I'll continue to search for a film that one day might stand with all those films that the fans have asked me to watch."
Jane's departure is a blow for the beleaguered franchise, which maden just a bit more than $33 million at the box office (according to Rotten Tomatoes) and an additional $4.7 million in rentals. Jane and other parties connected with the film have been prevalent in the press talking about more blood and more bullets in the sequel (from our October 12th coverage: "The script comes in a couple of weeks, and it's going to be darker, bloodier and more unfriendly than the first one," Jane said).
In December, director Jonathan Hensleigh hinted that there might be problems with the core storyline, telling Newsarama, "There's a high likelihood that we're going to do it. There are many issues involved in the sequel. One has been the timing between my schedule and Thomas Jane's schedule. The major one has been the content of the script and we've been wrestling with script issues for two years now. In other words, normal Hollywood stuff. Once those script issues are resolved and I think they're going to be resolved very quickly, I think we're going to make another one ... Jigsaw is the villain."
Jane was also critical of the first one later that month when he told IGN that the sequel would be "more of a 'Taxi Driver' kind of a feel which I think we'll go for in the second movie," Jane said. "I think that's where the first one succeeded, where we were doing more realistic type stuff. And if we can, [we should] get away from the lighter aspects of the first film. Because I think that's where the movie failed."
In April he was cautious talking about the sequel, telling Advanced Dark "The problem has always been getting a decent script. We actually have a script that's being turned in this week and we all have our fingers crossed, you know? We'd love to do it. Everybody wants to do it, but we all want to make a good movie. It starts with the script. We've gotta get a good script, and then we'll be ready to rock. The plan is to start the 'Punisher 2' in June; of course, I think I said that last year, too." That script in question was penned by screenwriter Kurt Sutter, and Jane clearly didn't like what he read.
The property has had a checkered history on screen, with 1989 version starring Dolph Lundgren has never been a critical nor fan favorite, and Jane's film being compared negatively to the much more brutal Denzel Washington revenge film "Man On Fire," which was in theatres at almost the same time. Jane's departure is likely to send this film back into development hell, from whence it may never return.