Hey, remember Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro’s awesome robots vs. monsters action spectacular? Yeah, it’s amazing, but it was also an incredibly expensive movie, reportedly costing nearly $200 million to produce, and since it only picked up $411 million worldwide during its theatrical run (less than a quarter of that in the U.S.), the chances of a sequel seemed a little slim. When studios put money into spectacles like this, they want spectacular returns.
Last summer, though, Del Toro brought us great news: Pacific Rim 2 would indeed happen, and would hit theaters in the spring of 2017. Until the last couple of weeks, there was no reason to doubt that. The film performed very well overseas – particularly in China, where so many action films are making bank now – so why wouldn’t studio executives want a sequel? Well…it turns out things are a little more complicated now.
See, Pacific Rim is a co-production of Legendary Pictures, the company founded by Thomas Tull that’s had its hands in everything from Batman Begins to Godzilla over the last decade. Last year, the company left distributor Warner Bros. to begin a new distribution agreement with Universal, a company that’s having a banner year thanks to hits like Furious 7 and Jurassic World. That’s where Pacific Rim 2’s future gets especially murky.
One of the projects Legendary’s been developing at Universal is Kong: Skull Island, a prequel to King Kong that will star Tom Hiddleston. Last week, it was reported that Legendary was working to move the film from Universal to Warner Bros., where the Godzilla rights currently rest, so that an eventual King Kong vs. Godzilla reboot could be created.
So, what does this have to do with Pacific Rim? Well, two of the earliest Legendary/Universal partnerships – Blackhat and Seventh Son – didn’t do very well at the box office, and two other films – Jurassic World and Straight Outta Compton – did very well for Universal, while Legendary only invested in the films without actually producing them. According to this fascinating piece from The Hollywood Reporter, Tull has a reputation for taking credit for the success of films he only co-financed, and that’s rankled Universal, particularly since the studio’s early partnerships with Legendary turned into failures. When it comes to Pacific Rim, Legendary apparently wants to move ahead with the sequel because of the original’s international success, but Universal is less sure because of how expensive the original film was, so a deadlock seems to have formed.
What happens next? Well, it’s hard to tell, as all of this is technically unofficial for the moment, but THR notes that Pacific Rim 2 “will be pushed back (if it gets made at all).” That’s rough news, but there may be a light at the end of this tunnel. Legendary already has Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island set up at Warners, the studio where Pacific Rim was originally made. Why not just go all in and mash all three movies together into one massive monsterfest? I’d watch that.