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Universal Wants 'Mama' Franchise, But Director Andrés Muschietti Isn't Interested

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist February 20, 2013 at 11:26AM

The success of horror movies in the early part of the year can be deceiving. For example, last year "The Devil Inside" shocked everyone by taking over $30 million on its opening weekend (even though it quickly tapered off, with audiences giving it a rare F CinemaScore thanks to its "go-to-the-website" ending). And this year, we're seeing the same similar unlikely stories play out. "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" has quietly inched its way to over $50 million domestic, and over $100 million worldwide (seriously), while the Guillermo Del Toro produced, Jessica Chastain starring "Mama" is approaching $70 million at home with more to come from overseas. And wouldn't you know it, Universal is smelling franchise.
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Mama Jessica Chastain

The success of horror movies in the early part of the year can be deceiving. For example, last year "The Devil Inside" shocked everyone by taking over $30 million on its opening weekend (even though it quickly tapered off, with audiences giving it a rare F CinemaScore thanks to its "go-to-the-website" ending). And this year, we're seeing the same similar unlikely stories play out. "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" has quietly inched its way to over $50 million domestic, and over $100 million worldwide (seriously), while the Guillermo Del Toro produced, Jessica Chastain starring "Mama" is approaching $70 million at home with more to come from overseas. And wouldn't you know it, Universal is smelling franchise.

International Universal Pictures’ president David Kosse has told Screen Daily quite simply, “We think there’s potential for a 'Mama' franchise.” Touted as a shining example of an affordable, international co-production (it was once kicked around as a Spanish language movie), Kosse hopes to use the film's template as a blueprint for future success, and also, for more "Mama" movies. “We’d like to do another one. But those conversations are in the early stages. 'Mama' is the first of this type of model that we’ve had enormous success with so there are more opportunities for this kind of film.”

Considering he was pretty much plucked from obscurity by Del Toro, you might think helmer Andrés Muschietti -- whose short formed the basis of the feature length movie -- might be keen to keep the momentum going. But instead, he thinks the concept is tapped out. "We sort of wore out the subject matter…I never thought this could continue. Sequels are always tricky. I know how studios think but I don’t see ‘Mama’ as something you can exploit because you’re screwing with the original," he told ScreenCrush. "I’m really hoping to jump into some other movies right now."

So does that mean there's no hope for more "Mama"? Hardly. Whether or not Muschietti, Del Toro or even Chastain are on board, we're sure Universal will press ahead without them if need be. Breakout horror hits don't walk up and shake your hand everyday, so one way or another we'd wager they'll find a way to keep it going.

This article is related to: Mama, Universal Pictures


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