WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for A Wrinkle In Time, in theaters now.
Fifteen years after its last attempt, Disney has released a live-action adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, only this time in theaters. That 2003 version was a made-for-TV movie that experienced multiple delays and a poor reception, leaving little room for a sequel. But this time, with acclaimed director Ava DuVernay (Selma), a big budget and a noteworthy cast, the entertainment giant clearly has an eye toward transforming the children's classic by Madeleine L’Engle into a Harry Potter-style film franchise.
Although early reviews have been decidedly mixed -- A Wrinkle in Time holds a rating of 42 percent on Rotten Tomatoes -- the film is projected to open this weekend with between $30 million and 38 million at the domestic box office. So, depending on how it performs over the next few weeks will dictate if a sequel is in the cards.
After the 1962 release of A Wrinkle in Time, L’Engle wrote four more novels about this generation of the Murry family: A Wind in the Door (1973), A Swiftly Tilting Planet (1978), Many Waters (1986) and An Acceptable Time (1989); all five books are collected as the Time Quintet. That sounds perfect for a series of annual tentpole films, right? However, there’s a little problem: The books weren’t necessarily written as sequels to each other. In fact, they don’t even always occur in a linear timeline. For example, the third novel, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, takes place a couple of years after the fourth, Many Waters. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the books couldn’t be adapted in a more integrated way by a deft hand. Because, although they might not line up end to end, the adventures commonly involve Meg, Calvin and Charles Wallace in some form or fashion.
The second book in the Time Quintet, A Wind in the Door, takes place shortly after Wrinkle and focuses largely on Charles Wallace. It introduces a new evil called the Echthroi, dark beings obsessed with extinguishing or “unnaming” all creation. The major adventure in this story involves Meg, Calvin and their high school principal Mr. Jenkins traveling inside one of Charles Wallace’s cells to stop the Echthroi from making him sick. Think Innerspace or Osmosis Jones.
One of the biggest differences between the new film and the book is the absence of Meg and Charles Wallace’s twin brothers Sandy and Dennys. Although that doesn’t effect the plot of A Wrinkle in Time too much, Sandy and Dennys Murry are the main characters of Many Waters. So, if Disney were to make it to a fourth film, it will be difficult to adapt the story properly.
DuVernay doesn’t seem to plant too many seeds for a sequel in her film. Instead she focuses on the wonder and message of the source material. However, at the end the most elder of the immortal Mrs. Ws, Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), tells Meg, Charles Wallace and Calvin that they are now soldiers of the light and that they continue a proud lineage that has included Albert Einstein, Madame Curie, Ghandi and others. In the novels, they go on to fight the evil Echthroi, and various other forms of darkness throughout time and space. So, the story checks out.
At this point it’s all down to the money. If audiences flock to A Wrinkle in Time in droves, Disney will surely make a sequel that is at least loosely based on A Wind in the Door.
Directed by Ava DuVernay from a script by Jennifer Lee, A Wrinkle in Time stars Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Zach Galifianakis, Levi Miller, Deric McCabe, Chris Pine, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Michael Peña. It’s in theaters now.