Found-footage release Chronicle was very much a success story no matter how you look at it, having earned more than 10 times its $12 million budget worldwide, in addition to the kudos from critics for its Akira-meets-Carrie teen existential drama. It also catapulted several members of its creative team onto bigger (and – possibly – better) things, as now director Josh Trank and costar Michael B. Jordan are working on the Fantastic Four reboot, lead actor Dane DeHaan is playing a key role in The Amazing Spider-Man franchise, and screenwriter Max Landis has his thumb in several different pies (including the Frankenstein retelling that he wrote, which arrives in 2015).
Landis had begun work on a screenplay for Chronicle 2 even before the first movie opened in theaters, though his script – revolving around a traumatized woman who utilizes Iron Man-esque gadgetry to become the world’s first super-villain – wasn’t exactly what the studio heads over at 20th Century Fox had in mind. Director John Landis, Max Landis’ father, was the first to break the news about his son’s “evolved” Chronicle 2 story not gaining traction; the younger Landis was quick to dismiss such concerns, though it was only a few months later when the news emerged that he and Fox had parted ways on the sequel.
So, what next? Well, according to Deadline, Fox has finally restarted forward movement on the Chronicle followup, having brought in screenwriter Jack Stanley to put together a new script draft. Stanley is a newcomer in Hollywood, though he’s written two original screenplays that are getting attention from studios; the first is Sweetheart, an action/comedy about a female assassin whose retirement plans are complicated by her 10 year high-school reunion, while the other is a werewolf thriller known as Silver.
No doubt, some fans of the first Chronicle will always be disappointed that Max Landis’ original (and ambitious) vision for the sequel is never going to see the light of day, as a movie featuring a super-villain protagonist could make for a worthwhile variation on the superhero genre. Sony now looks to be the first major studio to attempt that “experiment” with the genre’s format, when it releases the Amazing Spider-Man spinoff Sinister Six (revolving around multiple super-powered baddies) down the line.
On the other hand, Landis’ approach might’ve not been the best way to go about building a Chronicle franchise in particular – something that was even debated by our editors, on the Screen Rant Underground Podcast. After all, it sounds as though Landis wasn’t so interested in examining the first movie’s mythology more closely (an obvious route would be to reveal more about the mysterious crystal that gave the film’s characters their powers) as he was in exploring ideas that interested him, through a Chronicle “sequel.” That might’ve only frustrated moviegoers and, at worst, given rise to a second chapter that felt as disconnected to its predecessor as Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 does to The Blair Witch Project.
Stanley, by the sound of, may have a knack for finding clever variations on standard genre concepts, which is encouraging news for Chronicle 2. It appears as though Fox heads want the sequel to be “like the first one, only different,” so the project will probably need all the fresh creative input it can get, to avoid feeling like a carbon copy of the original installment (and/or a convoluted spin on the mythology, like the worst of the Paranormal Activity sequels).
The Chronicle sequel is also going to be hard-pressed to find an innovative new spin on the found-footage aesthetic, as we’ve already seen other films (such as the upcoming Project Almanac) that are clearly imitating Josh Trank’s approach on the original movie. However, it’ll almost certainly be for another director than Trank to figure that out, seeing how the latter will be preoccupied with his Fantastic Four reboot over the next year – and may be working on that comic book-based property beyond then, if Fox approves of his work and strives to bring him back for Fantastic Four 2 (which is already scheduled to hit theaters in 2017).
More on Chronicle 2 as additional information is made available.