There are few movies that demand sequels. There are even fewer bad movies that demand them. The sequel is such a precious and fragile concept; it’s the continuation of characters that we love going on new adventures. That’s dangerous ground no matter what. A delicate balance to strike between keeping the characters exactly the same and giving the audience something new.
More than most movies this year, Tron: Legacy emerges maybe not as the most obvious candidate for a next installment, but as the film that most deserves to see the sequel light of day. The film, despite it’s many, many flaws has all the ingredients to make an electric blue stew of sequel-y goodness, and the world would be a better place if Tron: Legacier were slated for 2012.
So why does a film that’s struggling to meet box office expectations against a sea of critical (and popular) apathy deserve a sequel? It’s simple.
The two biggest reasons to make a sequel come directly from the response of the audience. For fans, the movie seems to have worked like gangbusters. Mentions of the flat story are brushed away with comments about stirring imagery and a chance to return to The Grid. Sometimes spectacle is all that’s needed for success, and the response on the audience level has been healthy.
For those, like me, who found the movie almost unwatchable – there’s still an urgently compelling reason to head back into the universe: the chance to get it right. Somewhere in the venn diagram of those that care too much and those that don’t care at all are fans who enjoyed the original without launching it onto a glowing pedestal. Going back to that world had some promise, and it’s a shame that promise was wasted on an empty story on a beautiful canvas. The key is that the promise has been dragged into the modern and still exists. There is still the grand potential for an exhilarating Tron movie that will deliver the connectivity for fans and the broad action for the rest of the ticket-buying world.
Simply put, TRON deserves better.
A sequel would be a chance for redemption. Tron: Legacy plays more like a prequel than anything else anyway. From the scene on the bridge, to the inexplicable Deus Ex Machina Ex Machina, it seems clear that the film was built as a stepping stone to future films. Plus, Disney has invested heavily in the video game tie-in which happens to offer much of the back story for ISOs and Clu 2.0.
In fact, it’s the video game that might help against the biggest reason not to make the sequel.
The box office numbers are enough to make a producer catatonic. They didn’t bust any blocks, but $45 million is nothing to sneeze at. If other films with similar openings are any indication, Legacy has a 50/50 chance of getting its production budget back from domestic ticket sales. It might end up looking similar to Mission Impossible (which opened at $45 million and cleared the $180 million mark) or to Ghost Rider (which opened at $45 million and only cleared $115 million). Chances are that it will more closely resemble Terminator: Salvation (which opened at $45 million and cleared $150 million). The two films are sci-fi properties from the 80s given the modern treatment, critical disappointments, and they share the oh-so-important two-words-separated-by-a-colon title that matters so much in judging box office potential.
At the end of the day, any and all box office speculation is pure conjecture, but the outlook isn’t an overwhelming cause to break out the streamers and champagne. That much is for sure. No matter what, it seems like Disney would be taking a gamble to dig back into the well.
The video game can help that by immersing a potential audience in the world of the movie in a way the movie can’t. It’s a fun game with an online component (where days can be lost racing light cycles), and stands to be around long after the film has left theaters. It could effectively do more to grow a core audience than the nostalgia of the original film did for its Legacy.
That might not be enough, especially if the monstrous budget can’t be brought down to a manageable amount. Besides cutting the budget, Disney would most likely have to cut Joe Kosinski as director. He’s expressed interest in going back to the world, and he was a major reason the film got made in the first place, but the buck has to stop somewhere. Kosinski is an impeccably dressed, highly organized, very stoic man – and too much of that personality made its way into the film. Giving a different director the chance to head to The Grid might be a win creatively and financially. There are plenty of great directors who were influenced by (or just geek out over) TRON, and getting a bigger named behind the wheel could help hedge bets against the monetary risk.
This is all probably a digital pipe dream, but The Grid is a spectacular universe that demands to be explored further and with more skill. It offers the chance to revel in a relevant new take on a prescient vision from the 1980s that has all but come true today. It’s incredible subject matter that has immense potential. Those were the same arguments for making Legacy and hopefully its legacy won’t taint those arguments from supporting the need for a sequel.
Plus, if there’s a Sex in the City 2, there’s got to be hope for Tr3n, right?
What do you think?