Max Landis Reveals Original Plot for ‘Chronicle 2′ That Fox Turned Down

Published 2 years ago by

chronicle 2 screenwriter max landis Max Landis Reveals Original Plot for Chronicle 2 That Fox Turned Down

Those who enjoyed Max Landis and Josh Trank’s low-budget found footage superhero drama Chronicle will probably already know by now that, though Twentieth Century Fox is planning to make Chronicle 2, the director and writer behind the original won’t be involved at all. Since Chronicle grossed ten times its original budget at the box office, there seems little doubt that a sequel is still on the cards, but the studio has vetoed Landis’ “darker” script for it.

This leaves Fox wanting for a new screenwriter and director to bring their “different direction” for the series to life, but luckily it also leaves Landis free from all professional obligation to keep quiet about what he wanted to do in the sequel. Since his version of Chronicle 2 has apparently hit a permanent roadblock, Landis has opened up a little about what we’re missing out on.

Speaking to his fans on Twitter, Landis revealed that he didn’t really want to make Chronicle 2 at all, but instead wanted to make a sequel called Martyr that focused on a new and entirely different character. The screenwriter admitted that, “in retrospect, I’m not even sure if fans of the first film would’ve been ready or eager for my second installment as originally written,” but nonetheless outlined the themes that he’d intended to explore in the next chapter of the Chronicle story:

“Gone was the aspirational ‘what would you do,’ gone were the pranks and the bromance, gone were lovely tragic Andrew and hopeful, bright Steve. In their place was a dark, frustratingly unblinking stare into a complicated world that posed the question is it worth it to be a hero, told from the point of view of a heartbroken and insane woman who would martyr herself to the cause of being the world’s first villain.

“It was, in my estimation, a sequel that elaborated on the ideas and situations from the first to create a different genre of movie. In the best of worlds, in my optimistic but wildly prejudiced eyes, this could make it an Aliens, a Terminator 2… in the worst a Grease 2. So, at the end of the day, maybe it’s better that Martyr never saw the light of day. Sad I didn’t get to do some of my other versions. The multi-movie low [budget] Chronicle-based found footage superhero universe culminating in an Avengers type team up was a real good one.”

A fresh start with the focus on a new character might have been just what Chronicle needed in a sequel, since the original film’s story was wrapped up quite neatly and most of the principal cast (comic book style resurrections notwithstanding) didn’t make it all the way to the end credits. Somewhat predictably, Fox was not happy at the idea of leaving the successful first film behind and starting out on fresh, potentially risky, ground. Landis’ father, famed writer and director John Landis (An American Werewolf in London), said in an interview last year that his son had offered Fox an “evolution” of the story, and the studio’s response had been, “No, we want Chronicle again!

chronicle 2 max landis.jgp  Max Landis Reveals Original Plot for Chronicle 2 That Fox Turned Down

Since the lucky (or unlucky?) teens of Chronicle received their powers through something of a fluke, discovering a mysterious crystal that had apparently fallen to earth, the continuation of the series would likely necessitate an explanation of how other people acquired similar powers. Interestingly, Landis suggested that he’d had gadget-based superpowers along the lines of Iron Man or Pacific Rim in mind:

“Martyr also had two pretty cool robot suits in it. Sorta hyper realistic Iron Man stuff. Magnetic flight, sonic weaponry. Cool, cool stuff.”

The tweets offer a rather fascinating glimpse into what Landis had originally planned for his follow-up(s) to Chronicle: a model similar to the Marvel cinematic universe, but done on a much smaller budget with a realist aesthetic and sticking with found footage as the means of telling stories. Perhaps somewhere along the line Matt could have teamed up with the protagonist of Martyr, or gone up against her with an assembled team of amateur superheroes. It’s a concept that comes with both significant challenges and a lot of potential, but it looks like it may remain nothing more than a pipe dream.

It’s a shame, since if there’s one place where it’s less risky to take risks, it’s in low-budget ventures. After all, this summer’s biggest flop, The Lone Ranger, was considered to be a fairly safe bet before it lost Disney $190 million, but such a loss wouldn’t have been possible on a film with a $12 million production budget. Fox might have benefited from simply handing Trank and Landis their modest financing and trusting the filmmaker’s vision, however dark.

Do you like the sound of Martyr and Landis’ low-budget superhero universe, or are you interested to see Chronicle 2 fall into new hands?


Chronicle 2 doesn’t yet have a release date. Nor does it have a director, a script, any cast members or even a screenwriter (that we know of), but we’ll keep you updated on any further developments.

Source: Max Landis (via THR)

Follow H. Shaw-Williams on Twitter @HSW3K
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  1. I would not be interested in that movie as a “sequel” but maybe a stand alone movie.

    I want a continuation of the story because there were so many unanswered questions. What gave them there powers, how would the final living member evolve?

    CAN the two that died resurrect? What would the nation do after they found out the boys exist and how would the boys handle it, etc.

    A brand new direction as a sequel holds no interest for me but as a stand alone script I dig it.

    • That was the beauty of it.

      The powers were left unexplained and that’s how it should stay. Leave it as a total mystery instead of explaining it.

      Keep Steve and Andrew dead because it cheapens the story otherwise but the one left over (forget his name) should be left alone. We don’t need to know what he did next.

      • Exactly. That story has to be taken on a conceptual level, like an allegory, not on a down to earth level where everything has to be explained… It dries the meaning.

  2. Once again, great job Fox. You really have your finger on the pulse of the movie going public.

  3. That sounded like a fantastic idea! At first, I sort of wanted the sequel to continue following the story of Andrew but this sounds much better to me. And spawning one or two sequels in order to lead into a probable team up film or superhero clash with that low of a budget and no restrictions of how violent it can get could’ve been amazing.

    I agree with how Fox weren’t really going to lose much, even if it bombs. The budget is tiny and a weird franchise to take that much control over. I mean, did they really reject Landis’ work, who penned the script for the first film, because they wanted the same thing instead of an evolution? I fear this franchise can end up being another Scary Movie, Saw or Paranormal Activity franchise debacle. Same movie stuck on repeat.

    Fox clearly missed out on this, what a shame. A franchise that may have not just been for churning out sequels for money ends up being a franchise churning out sequels for the money. A huge bummer for me.

    • The irony of all of this is that you get the money by not going after the money.

      • Completely agree.

        • Well they ll get punished for their greed hopefully. As for me considering that none of the original team is involved and the reasons behind it Fox can go screw itself. I hope they make a big budget copy of chronicles and they get their asses burned doing it Lone Ranger style ! I can forgive fox for the worst x movie and for ff considering the amount of money involved : they play it corporate because it’s big business . Here however it’s unforgivable : If you can’t trust a creator vision after he made you lot of money and he works on a small budget then you should have no business doing movies.

    • Have you actually watched the Saw sequels? Because putting out the same movie over and over again is exactly what they avoided doing.

    • I completely agree; Upon first reading the idea behind Martyr, I automatically said “ew! no! bring back Steve, leave Andrew dead, and give me answers!” but then thought…well…I think it would’ve been brilliant to have her be like an anthropologist or a birdwatcher…something of that nature and have her go digging around the same spot as Matt, Steve, and Andrew. She falls in, finds the “thing” but this time there’s more as to what it is and how it transfers telekinetic ability but giving her a little something extra. the stronger she becomes, the more she, like Andrew, loses her mind and evolves into a villain and then, possibly, comes into contact with Matt for a climactic fight scene. I would cast someone under 25…I love Chloe Mortez, Saoirse Ronan, or even the olsen twins are creepy looking with the potential to look “girl-next-door” before she goes crazy. and no found footage. let he find Andrews old camera and that’s it!

  4. I would have love to see those ideas play out. There is also the possibility that Landis is blowing a whole lot of smoke in terms of the Avengers like team up. He seems like the type that would do something like that.

    • I assumed that part was a joke.

  5. To be honest I would have like to see Landis and Tranks vision of Chronicle 2. I actually see where Landis was heading with the film, and would have liked to see such a audacious take of film based on a villain. It would have been different and interesting to see how this new character the Martyr, become the big bad villain. Then follow up with having the reluctant hero from chronicle come back and face this threat. I surely say that would have been a cult hit I believe. You know those one in a blue moon films that come out and leave the audience with a new perception of things. Its sad that it won’t come to light. but maybe Fox will realize and ask the two guys to come back and do the film. Here is to hoping.

  6. Hmm, definitely sounds intriguing.

    Goddam Fox.

  7. Does anyone else find it strange that the studio(s) link the success to the film and not the people who created it? if they have some of the same team back then why not let them go with their instincts/desires which is what lead to the success in the first place

    • Yes, never change a winning team. But Fox don’t get that.

    • +1

      It’s really weird.

      • I also find it very odd that Fox leaves a good amount of creative freedom for the writers working on the huge X-Men franchise instead of this. It’s also odd that they don’t want change for Chronicle but Marvel encourages it. Whedon is doing something drastically different with Avengers 2 compared to the first, a risky move, especially for a franchise worth one billion dollars but they still follow through.

        • Avengers 2 is just going to be a retread of the first film. A bad guy is going to show up and all the Avengers will have to assemble to save the day. Iron Man isn’t going to die. Captain America isn’t going to turn evil and kill dozens of people. Thor isn’t going to declare war on the US government. An example of a “drastically different” Avengers story on a level with what Landis is proposing with his Chronicle sequel would be the comic series “Dark Avengers.” It’s actually about a group of psychopathic villains who usurp the “Avengers” identity from the classic Marvel heroes. Of course, fans nearly rioted claiming that the book was a disgrace to the “real” Avengers.

  8. Actually… it would be good for the second to focus on a villain.

    It should be the opposite of the first, where the kids decide from the beginning to use their powers for nefarious purposes (rather than give in to it because of accidents or loss of self esteem).

    Detail that spiral downward and the ultimate “bad” ends up killing/breaking from her buddies because of her lust for power. She would wreak havoc and authorities would be unable to stop her until the end of the movie where Matt from the first one shows up and defeats her with the help of her former reformed friend(s) (but not killing her).

    The 3rd (of a trilogy), would have her escape and knowing she needs others to beat Matt, gathers like-powered villains with Matt assembling his own team of good guys and then one big battle royale.

    Titles: Chronicle 2: The Bad, Chronicle 3: The Ugly… hehe.

    • Exactly. The Anime “From the new World” has a world hundreds of years later. You should look into that.

    • ooooh I like that idea!

  9. I would have loved to see that! It is interesting that he seems more interested in making supervillain movies instead of superhero movies. Chronicle’s main character was a supervillain and he wanted the follow up to be a supervillain origin story. It’s a bummer this didn’t happen. I don’t really like the idea of an Avengers style team up though.

  10. The more I think about it, the more I wonder where I’ve seen this “hero becomes the villain” before, other than Chronicle of course.

    I mean, Andrew was bullied his whole life by d-bags at school as well as his own father and he ended up taking his anger and frustration out in a violent way, like the kids who go on massacres across the US.

    The lead character in Martyr sounds like she’d have been a female retread except with her heart broken instead of being bullied.

    • Wrong. Max flat out, clearly said that it would be about the struggle of wondering if being a hero is worth it. He said she would martyr herself to the cause. This means she would become a villian (even though she wants to be a hero) just so that heroes will arise. Thats why itd be called Martyr. It has nothing in common with being bullied and taking her anger out. Learn to read and comprehend before being dumb, please. Thank you.

      • Can a SR staff member do something about this troll and his personal attacks please?

        Especially because I DID read and comprehend it and said it was similar to what we’ve seen before, including Chronicle. Except that time, the villain didn’t mean to become a villain, nor did he do it so that his cousin could become a hero.

        This character would’ve consciously done that of her own accord rather than being bullied and the heartbreak she’d go through over the course of the movie.

        Learn to act like an intelligent, mature adult before you post next time. Unless you’re the 13 year old I assume you to be.

        • Here we go again. Lmao.

        • calm down man were all adults here.. &youre initial assessment WAS a little onm the obtuse side..
          either way no need to go snitching to the uppers just because someone criticised you a lil harshly.. just let it roll off your back or drop a witty retaliation or sumthin

  11. So now mostly like Chronicle 2 will be a group of three girls, Andrea, Mattie, and Stevie find this strange crystal and gain superpowers.

    • They were also at the party and found the hole latter on.

      Then the third will be three aliens that gain human powers after touching one of our rocks!

      • Brilliant

    • And they’ll need AT LEAST a $150 million budget.

  12. Good move, Fox. Now what? Hiring M. Night Shyamalan to direct? And then a crossover with Unbreakable?

    • Actually sounds brilliant.

    • God, I hope not, Shyamalan makes horrible movies with only occasional gems! the Village was excellent, didn’t like lady in the water, and signs?! you’re allergic to water but want to become hostile on a planet that’s mostly water…

  13. Irregardless of any other elements (script, acting, special effects, etc.), in my opinion, “found footage” just does not work in any flick I have seen using this method.

    • Irregardless? Really?

      • +1

    • It worked for Chronicle, it worked for Cloverfield, it also worked for Safe Haven on V/H/S 2 and Cannibal Holocaust back in the 70s.

      • lol, no it didn’t work for Cloverfield, that was the worst movie I had ever seen! I hate those types of movies BUT chronicle was successful with it because I didn’t always feel like a cheap camcorder with unsteady hands throughout.

  14. Im tired of people needing explanations for everything. The crystal wasnt what was important in the movie. The people were. Max has said he prefers character-driven story. Telling a seperate story, or evolving it, then later combining sounds excellent. Im tired of studios stifiling creativity and excellence to just keep putting out all the same stuff. Its ridiculous. Im horribly disappointed that i wont see Max’s universe unfold.

    • Well, he could always kickstarter it. I’d be down for that:)

    • Learn to read and comprehend before commenting, nick.

      *done with this childish troll now, walking away calmly to surround myself with intelligent commentators like Cave-ish Man, Dr Mindbender, Guardian Outlaw and others too numerous to name while the kiddies like nick continue to talk about this movie’s premise, which is a shame because I love Chronicle and would love to talk more about this but hey, I’d rather not read more of his IQ-lowering posts*

  15. Fox, Y U so stupid???

  16. The first one sucked

    • Idea was good, movie wasn’t. Kinda sad, I always wanted to see a movie like this but they screwed it up so bad.

  17. I wanted a direct sequel to Chronicle, but that idea sounds amazing.

    It sounds kind of like the stories would be set up to tell interesting stories about what chaos different types of people would have caused if they were the ones exposed to what gave them powers. Then maybe the third would be another, completely different story. Keep throwing the audience off time after time.

    Sounds amazing. But yeah, studio execs win again.

  18. Fox, what are you doing? Just when I am pleased that you are getting X-Men together you do this. As the studio why not say, ” you can make this film, but you must also make Chronicle 2 – a direct sequel to Chronicle”. This to me seems like a stand alone film not linked to the Chronicle continuity and would have been interesting. Oh well, your loss Fox for throwing away what could have potentially been a hit and very profitable cult franchise.

  19. Yeah, bad Fox. Why won’t you take a chance? Why can’t you be like the film studio which did the first film?

  20. dammit fox. i would have loved to this this vision pan out!

  21. This is why as a writer you never want to be in a financial situation where you need the money, so studio does not end up with sequels rights with approval
    of writer of chronicle. Fox has history of destroying franchises.

  22. As usual they fox it up big time.

  23. I don’t think Terminator 2 or Aliens replaced the lead characters for the sequel so his comparisons are laughable.

    I enjoyed Chronicle. It didn’t need a sequel.

  24. Bad call, Fox. This would have been an interesting film but instead, we had to go the safe generic route. Bummer…

  25. We need more villain/ anti-hero protagonist films. i’d love to see something like Taxi Driver meets Superhero origin tale.

  26. typical cynical negative pessimistic borderline racist P.O.S. company.. i honestly dont know how theyre still in business….

    the first idea struck gold.. because it kind of took the expected &did something fresh with it.. now Landis (whom i admit can be abit much to take at times) comes with an even more interesting take on superhero genres but sequels.. &instead of bankrolling it they want to MILK the cow in the same method the creators had to break out of to make that suiccess in the first place..

    companies and idealogies like theres are what i hate most about the movie business.. take the heart &soul out before a rolls even been shot.

    hopefully Legendary Studios are reading this &give him a call.. idunno what his contractuals are but hopefully them vetoeing his idea gives him room to maneuver with a more reticent studio

  27. This reminds me of an interview I read with Mark Millar about his trying to set a film adaptation of “Nemisis”,of course the studios are scared to make a comic book film with a strong villain, after all The Dark Knight, Silence of the Lambs, A Clockwork Orange (to name a few) all lost money, and are hardly remembered at all, right? :)

  28. I LOVED this movie! I’d want to know more about how they got their powers and if there’s more people like them in the world! If they have kids, would the kids have powers? Since only Matt lived, would he become stronger from the other two dyeing? I want to see something like a secret group of people kidnap Matt and figure out a way to make other people like him. He ended up going the monks that were said to fly right? What if some of them actually can fly! XD

  29. what would also be fascinating is if they were to bring casey back into the sequel to document it. I would think she would want answers as to why her boyfriend could fly and sense she has a habit of documenting everything she would be natural as a point of view in the sequel.