In the end, PACIFIC RIM 2 is all about the money.
On paper, the first film seemed like a sure-fire bet: an action-packed special-effects extravaganza, featuring giant monsters and robots, slugging it out in Hong Kong. But, despite being directed by our visionary hero, Guillermo del Toro, the film broke even at the box office, thanks mostly to huge oversees support. Critics argued that the film underperformed, especially in the U.S., thanks to a lack of bankable stars, wooden characters and, most significantly, no recognizable property to draw huge interest (“What the heck is PACIFIC RIM? I don’t know – let’s just rent BATTLESHIP at Redbox tonight. I love that game.”).
But the film has its followers, and its popularity in the U.S. has increased (much like the HELLBOY films) from good word-of-mouth and home video rentals. With that, and those impressive global revenue numbers ($411 million worldwide), Legendary’s Thomas Tull saw enough to build towards a new franchise for the studio, and committed to making PACIFIC RIM 2, co-financed through Legendary Pictures and Universal (after Legendary ended their financing deal with Warner Bros., who made the first film happen).
Pre-production started, and Guillermo was already busy designing the new Jaegers and Kaiju for the follow-up film when trouble started to brew. The Hollywood Reporter published a report on a rift between Universal and Legendary, evidenced by a decision by Universal to pull out of the financing for Legendary’s KONG: SKULL ISLAND picture after balking at the hefty price tag.
Later, in the article, THR confirmed that the PACIFIC RIM 2 project was delayed:
Legendary wanted to produce a sequel to del Toro’s Pacific Rim, which was made under the Warners deal and turned into one of those films that grosses a lot ($411 million worldwide) while being so costly that a follow-up isn’t a sure thing. Sources say Legendary liked that the original performed exceptionally well in China, where the company is heavily invested, but for now the project — which had been ramping up to make a release date in August 2017 — has been halted indefinitely and will be pushed back (if it gets made at all).
This means that Universal sees PACIFIC RIM 2 as a risky proposition – an expensive film that is far from a sure thing, and Tull will probably have to seek funding elsewhere to get it made.
But the film isn’t dead. There are two things for GDT/PacRim fans to watch for.
The first is the performance of CRIMSON PEAK at the box office. This will go a long way towards shoring up the faith that Universal has in Legendary and Guillermo del Toro to bring home the bacon. Get your friends, family and social media followers to buy a ticket for opening weekend (October 16). Every ticket purchased is a vote for PACIFIC RIM 2.
Second, we might see Tull seek out funding for PACIFIC RIM 2 elsewhere (probably overseas), but it is going to take time. There is certainly a precedent for Legendary to seek funding in China, where the film put up monster numbers. It had a $9 million dollar opening weekend that was the biggest ever for Warner Bros.. The biggest issue in my mind is the window of opportunity: you can only go so long before people just want to move on to the next “hot” thing (More dinosaurs anyone?)
That’s Hollywood, folks – it ain’t an easy business, but it is easy to criticize when we aren’t the ones forking over millions of dollars. Let’s just hope this works out and we once again see Raleigh and Mako back piloting a Jaeger soon.
So, what next for Guillermo? No commitments at this time – but as you recall, there was the promise of a small black and white film that was going to kick-off and wrap before the shooting of PACIFIC RIM 2. There is also a rumored “Wall-E meets Splash” project that has been trolling around the internet, thanks to Hollywood Insider site The Tracking Board. There is no confirmation from the del Toro camp on this “mystery” project at this time (or if it is the same project as the speculated B&W film).
I would not expect an announcement until after CRIMSON PEAK, however. A lot rides on its success.