While Disney’s acquisitions have them rolling in money, or soon-to-be money — Marvel movies, LucasFilm movies, etc. — when the studio itself tries to mount an original or semi-original blockbuster, they haven’t had a lot of luck these last few years (aside from live-action fairy tale adaptations like “Maleficent”). There’s been a string of big expensive flops: “John Carter” cost at least $250 million and couldn’t even crack the $75 million mark domestically, “The Lone Ranger” cost around the same and failed to surpass $90 million at home, and just recently, Brad Bird’s “Tomorrowland” (reportedly costing $190 million minus the $60 million or so to market), pretty much stalled out at the Memorial Day box-office weekend. Being that “Tomorrowland” wasn’t based on an existing property or known brand, the Disney film might eventually be even in worse dire straits than the aforementioned properties if it doesn’t take off over seas.
So perhaps its not a huge shock that Disney has decided to not move forward with Joseph Kosinski’s “Tron 3.” While news of a “Tron 3” thumbs up, with stars Olivia Wilde and Garrett Hedlund reprising their roles, hit a few months ago, evidently the threequel had not received an official green light. Preparation had started regardless, the studio was eyeing a fall release date, and the filmmakers hoped to bag Jared Leto for a role. But it’s all moot now as “Tron 3” has been canceled by the studio.
A sequel to “Tron: Legacy” was never a sure bet to begin with. The movie landed soft in theaters in 2010, and while it did eventually gross $400 million worldwide, it cost $350 million all told. Factor in the math is not 1:1; theaters take a cut worldwide for exhibiting the film, and there is lots of other little costs that add up. Also factor in that Hedlund hasn’t really become a major star in the ensuing five years — his original casting was investment in his stardom — and then there’s the sobering fact that the domestic boxoffice is dwindling. While ‘Legacy’ was decently received and has its fans, is the general moviegoing public dying for a sequel? That’s very debatable.
So chalk it up to a preemptive conservative move by Disney, which evidently didn’t have huge faith in the sequel’s success. Instead, Walt Disney Pictures future is looking towards sure things like another “Pirates of the Caribbean” installment, another “Alice in Wonderland,” sequel, and more live-action adaptations of their classic animated films like “Jungle Book,” “Pete’s Dragon,” and “Beauty and the Beast.” [THR]