More and more, film studios are pulling a Babe Ruth: pointing at the upper deck and signaling where their would-be home run is going to fly once the bat connects (always assume the bat will connect of course). While it’s bold flag-staking, this approach is in many ways anti-development and horse before the cart. And of course, it’s all business driven. Instead of the old days: “lets develop a sequel and when it’s ready, plan a release around it,” the new game plan is: “ok, we’ve given ourselves two years, the clock is ticking go.”
One could argue this does combat the over-development by committee that happens in Hollywood and yes, all release dates can move, but one has to wonder what the negative affects are when you’ve planted a date in the crowd are and your would be blockbuster isn’t quite ready. This of course wouldn’t be the first time this has happened of course, and goes back more than 30 years. For example, the book “The 50 Greatest Movies Never Made,” documents the process of a “Star Trek” movies that was never made (by director Phil Kaufman) and how the dry and uneven “Star Trek: The Motion Pictures” was released at Christmas in 1979 even though then Paramount head Michael Eisner knew it was a “disaster” of a movie. It simply wasn’t ready to go, but by then shooting had been well-underway and the studio really had no choice.
One has to also worry about “Star Wars: Episode VII,” a movie that the director himself J.J. Abrams knew wasn’t ready, asked for a year extension into 2016 and was denied by Disney because their shareholders were told they would star seeing profits from the $4 billion dollar purchase of LucasFilm in 2015 (Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy have to now suck it up and be ready for December 2015 by hook or by crook).
This brings up to Fox’s upcoming gameplan. They’ve set a rash of 2016, 2017 and 2018 dates which include a new “Wolverine” movie, the would-be proper sequel to James Mangold’s “The Wolverine” (I guess everyone’s going to pretend “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” never happened which is probably for the best).
Dated for March 3, 2017, no script has been written and it’s unclear if Hugh Jackman – who has been hinting that he’s getting a little old for the role now – is even properly signed on for anymore sequels, but the project is moving forward regardless. They’ll cross those bridges, like a story, when they get there.
But while Fox has unveiled a half a dozen new future release dates, it appears they’re thinking seriously about “The Wolverine 2” as they’ve quickly hired a writer on the heels of their announcement (i.e., “date is set, get cracking kid.”) Deadline reports that David James Kelly has been hired to write the film. And you might know his name from “The Daredevil” film that never was (you can add it to the list of 20 Superhero Movies That Couldn't Fly All The Way To The Big Screen). No, don’t panic, not the Ben Affleck “Daredevil” from the early aughts, but the unproduced version that almost went forward with Joe Carnahan in the directors chair (it would likely be shooting or in post-production now had it gotten the green lit; instead, rights lapsed back to Marvel as Fox wasn’t happy with the planned movie as is).
And so, what should we expect? Well, if “The Wolverine” drew from the classic Chris Claremont mini-series where Logan went to Japan (and it must be said, in the end that movie is nothing like that terrific mini-series which has almost nothing to do with super heroes and everything to do with a man fighting ninjas, yakuzas and samurais all in the name of honor), then it’s currently unknown which classic comic they’ll rape and pillage (and hopefully not miss the mark this time). James Mangold says he’d like to return, but he’s currently not signed on for the film either (though apparently he and Jackman are in negotiations, despite the fact that the actor likes to say he's not coming back in every other interview). Right now it’s all in the “development stage” with exactly 24 months to go. Should be sufficient time, that is unless you hit a screenplay snag like “Star Trek” or “Star Wars” but have to plow through regardless.