Director Timur Bekmambetov broke onto the scene in the United States with his 2008 action thriller “Wanted,” starring Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy as members of a secret society of assassins. The film was adapted from the Mark Millar comic book series of the same name and was a box office hit, opening to an impressive $50 million in the U.S. and finishing with $341 million worldwide. Millar announced before the film’s opening that Bekmambetov was already planning a sequel, but a follow-up film has yet to happen over a decade later.
In a new interview with Deadline, Bekmambetov teases the long-awaited “Wanted” sequel could be taking on a new form as a Screenlife movie. The filmmaker has signed a five-movie deal with Universal Pictures to produce films using Screenlife tech, which describes the storytelling format used in Bekmambetov-produced films such as “Unfriended” and “Searching” in which the films are only told on various screen formats like web pages, video chat cameras, cellphones, and more.
“[We’ll] maybe do the sequel in Screenlife,” Bekmambetov said about the “Wanted” follow-up. “I cannot imagine an assassin in today’s world would run with a gun. Why? He will use drones, he will use computer technology, probably. You don’t need to bend bullets anymore. You need to bend ideas.”
Bekmambetov has had tremendous success with his Screenlife projects so far. Universal distributed “Unfriended” in 2015 and the $1 million horror movie grossed $64 million worldwide. The John Cho-starring thriller “Searching” was released through Sony and was an even bigger success, grossing $75.5 million worldwide on a $880,000 budget.
Despite the successes, Bekmambetov told Deadline it wasn’t easy landing a multi-picture deal with a top Hollywood studio. The deal with Universal brings Bekmambetov back to the studio after their success with “Wanted” and opens the door to the long-discussed sequel. McAvoy has expressed interest in the past in regards to returning to the “Wanted” franchise. At this point a “Wanted” sequel made through Screenlife is just an idea Bekmambetov is floating around. The only thing Bekmambetov is certain about with his Universal deal is that each Screenlife film will be a different genre movie.
“We agreed it will be five Screenlife movies in different genres, and of course I will discuss with them the cast and the directors, but they trust me,” Bekmambetov said. “Because every Screenlife movie we’ve made was successful in different ways, some creatively and some commercially, and because it’s a new language. We know there will be romantic comedies, sci-fi, horror, fantasy and detective stories like ‘Searching.’ These will be very relatable to audiences that absolutely understand this language, because it’s how we live.”
For more on Screenlife, read Bekmambetov’s IndieWire interview on the format here.