Sequels and remakes are an important part of the entertainment business today, a way to partially offset the huge investment and risk inherent in making movies that cost tens of millions of dollars. Universal Pictures is no exception; in a recent interview with chairman Adam Fogelson, he revealed at least one new sequel that’s abrewing, and updated plans for a handful of others that we’ve already heard about. Here’s a rundown, along with our unsolicited suggestions.
Identity Thief: The comedy may have been treated unkindly by critics, but the teaming of Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy has grossed more than $74 million. Fogelson says: “We think we created great characters, so we'll discuss how to re-pair Jason and Melissa going forward.” Our suggestion: Resist the temptation to soften the characters; the comic interplay between the two is best when Bateman and McCarthy are a nasty, battling Odd Couple on the road.
Mama: A possible sequel was not mentioned by Fogelson, but Universal Pictures’ President of International David Kosse recently said: “We think there’s potential for a Mama franchise. We’d like to do another one. But those conversations are in the early stages.” Our suggestion: Don’t worry about Jessica Chastain returning; keep the parental theme going, but consider another family entirely and approach it from a different relationhip angle.
The Bourne Legacy: The point of the latest installment, according to Fogelson, was “to create a universe, a world and characters that give us a lot of freedom and flexibility in how we go forward.“ The studio is receptive to the idea of Matt Damon returning to the series, but wants to keep their options open. Our suggestion: Absolutely move forward with the idea of Damon’s character returning, but only in a supporting role. That keeps the emphasis on Jeremy Renner; he stands a better chance of taking the series in a fresh direction.
Snow White and the Huntsman: Plans for a sequel have been on again and off again, due in part to the publicity about the offscreen relationship between Kristen Stewart and director Rupert Sanders. With that issue resolved and Sanders moving on to other projects, the sequel is moving forward. Our suggestion: Keep the two lead characters somewhat adversarial, rather than lovey-dovey. And a menacing villain is essential, someone who could measure up to the deliciously evil Charlize Theron in the original.
Van Helsing: Last year, producer Alex Kurtman said he and his writing partner Robert Orci wanted to ground the project in reality and “really cool things.” Tom Cruise was attached to star and produce. Now, there’s no mention of Cruise; Fogelson says, “We are looking at rebooting Van Helsing, because I think the idea for the Van Helsing story was a great way of solving the question of, ‘How do you make a blockbuster out of monsters?’” Our suggestion: Get this thing moving forward! Bringing back a more grounded, very adult Van Helsing to slay vampires and other monsters in something resembling reality would be a welcome antidote to the recent spate of supernatural movies with teen heroes.