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Exclusive: Focus Features Pull The Plug On David Cronenberg's 'Eastern Promises 2'

by Oliver Lyttelton
August 14, 2012 2:31 PM
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For a director as fearsomely original as David Cronenberg, he's hasn't necessarily shied away from sequels, they just haven't come to fruition. He penned a remake/reboot of "The Fly" for 20th Century Foxalthough the studio scrapped it, and more recently, it looked like he was actually going to make the long-talked about "Eastern Promises 2," a sequel to his 2006 gangster picture, with original writer Steven Knight again penning a script, and Viggo Mortensen and Vincent Cassel both set to return.

But the emphasis should be put on the past tense here, because we just spoke to Cronenberg (and his star Robert Pattinson) in New York as they did the press rounds for "Cosmopolis," and despite news of the follow-up looking promising, it seems that the sequel is no longer going to happen. When we asked Cronenberg what he had coming up next, the filmmaker said bluntly, "It was supposed to be 'Eastern Promises 2.' But that's dead."

And it looks like it's not come from the director or casts' end, but instead a studio reluctant to give the greenlight. "We were supposed to start shooting 'Eastern Promises 2' in October," Croneberg said, still sounding frustrated and in disbelief. "[But] It's done... If you don't like it talk to James Schamus at Focus. It was his decision."

The original wasn't exactly a blockbuster, taking $17 million domestically and a little over $50 million internationally, but presumably Focus at one point thought that the numbers would have worked, so the about face is a little curious, especially as it sounds like the decision was pretty last minute considering the fall shoot. As such, the director doesn't yet have anything lined up, and is instead focusing on finishing a novel that he's writing that is, according to him, "two years late." Stay tuned for more from our interview with Cronenberg and Pattinson in the next few days, and you'll be able to see their collaboration in theaters this Friday, August 17th. - Reporting by Drew Taylor

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  • Tyler | September 11, 2012 2:30 AMReply

    I think this sequel would have made more than original. think about it. Before not many people saw this, it came out on dvd. Now that its know- it fits a small are of filmaking- rather uknown crime dramas- a good spot to have no matter who you are

  • JD | August 15, 2012 7:47 AMReply

    Unfortunatley in recent years Universal has become notoriously cheap in their casting and franchise decisions (see Jason Statham Fast & Furious debacle) and it now appears that this tightening of the belts mentality has spread to their art house division Focus Features. The truth is they didn't want to finance Mortensen's increasing salary demands on top of a production budget with the lingering thought that there's not much the original film didn't cover. A sequel would have certainly been interesting to see what Cronenberg and Knight would have built on but it would seem that once again finances triumph.

  • Alan | August 15, 2012 4:08 AMReply

    James Schamus is a jerk for not greenlighting a sequel to a film that wasn't one of Cronenberg's better efforts and didn't make that much bank, either. What is his problem? Does he want to give other filmmakers opportunities to tell original stories or something? Tool ...

  • Alan | August 16, 2012 7:33 AM

    How about THIS YEAR, in which there is only TWO Focus Features films that is adapted from previous source material? One was based on a highly personal memoir (even if it was made by a Weitz brother) whilst the other is 'Anna Karenina', in which Joe Wright and Tom Stoppard attempt to reinvigorate a much-adapted (but, curiously, never well) classic novel. These are personal, ambitious films - not a sequel to a film that had ONE great performance that almost made up for the silly structural issues: remember Naomi Watts was in 'Eastern Promises'? And she was the lead for the first act? I wouldn't begrudge you if you forgot, because the filmmakers seemingly forgot halfway through.

  • The Fanciful Norwegian | August 15, 2012 5:33 AM

    "Does he want to give other filmmakers opportunities to tell original stories or something?"

    Recent Focus titles include "The Eagle," "Jane Eyre," "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," "Being Flynn," "Anna Karenina," "One Day" (based on novels, some with multiple adaptations already), "The Debt" (remake of a foreign film), and "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" (braindead plagiarism of "Last Night"). So no, he probably doesn't.

  • TC | August 14, 2012 5:51 PMReply

    Well, that sucks BIG time ! Ireally liked the first one and was looking forward to a sequel.

  • Karyn | August 14, 2012 3:31 PMReply

    I don't think something is "exclusive" if you heard it at a roundtable.

  • Harley Quinn | August 14, 2012 3:19 PMReply

    This sucks! Although a sequel wasn't really necessary to begin with.

  • AS | August 14, 2012 2:42 PMReply

    Correction: Eastern Promises came out in 2007, not 2006.

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