When it comes to both Christmas-set movies and horror/comedy mash-ups, Joe Dante’s 1984 classic Gremlins is one that tends to assume a high spot on both lists. Starring Zach Galligan (Waxwork) as lead Billy Peltzer – and featuring ’80s mainstays like Phoebe Cates, Judge Reinhold, and Corey Feldman in supporting roles – Gremlins introduced the world to both the adorable little mogwai creatures and the evil titular monsters that they turn into when fed after midnight. A massive hit, Gremlins went on to gross over $150 million theatrically on a budget of only $11 million.
Naturally, this success spawned a sequel, with director Dante returning to helm 1990’s Gremlins II: The New Batch. Now set in New York City, Gremlins II transplanted Galligan, Cates, and cute little mogwai Gizmo to a new setting, but it wouldn’t be too long before they encountered their old problems. While the film has its share of fans today, Gremlins II was received fairly poorly at the time, and underwhelmed at the box office to boot. Part of this was due to the radical change in tone the sequel underwent, almost becoming a parody of the first film at times, and embracing a much more broad sense of humor than the mostly straightforward original.
Talk of another Gremlins entry has come off and on in the decades since Gremlins II, with the floated project sometimes being a sequel, sometimes being a remake, and sometimes being a total franchise reboot. When last discussed publicly by series star Galligan in 2015, it seemed to be almost set in stone that Gremlins 3 would now be a direct follow-up, and not a reboot or remake of any kind. In a new interview with Bleeding Cool, Galligan offered an update on a potential third Gremlins movie, even suggesting that Gremlins 3 might actually ignore the divisive second film completely:
“Gremlins 3” will be a sequel, not a reboot, and creator/director Chris Columbus is looking to undo some of what happened in “Gremlins 2. Chris Columbus didn’t have anything to do with ‘Gremlins 2’ — because by his own admission he didn’t see a franchise. He kind of regrets it I believe, but he was ‘one and done.’ I don’t think he cared for ‘Gremlins 2’ and the direction some of the characters went in, so he’s kind of wrested control back. Everything I’m quoting is stuff he’s publicly said… ‘There will NEVER be a remake, There will NEVER be a reboot there will only be a SEQUEL.”
Chris Columbus’ – who wrote the original film but did not return in any way for Gremlins II – problems with Dante’s Gremlins sequel are pretty well known at this point, so it’s not too surprising that he wants to assume complete control this time out, now being an established director in his own right. That said, the idea of trying to outright undo the events of Gremlins II is likely to raise the eyebrows of fans who love both installments or in some cases prefer the more madcap sequel. If he indeed opts to go that route, he definitely runs the risk of splitting the franchise’s fanbase.
As for where exactly the development of Gremlins 3 stands, Galligan said elsewhere in the same interview that writer Carl Ellsworth (Disturbia) was still working on the script, last he knew. However, he also stressed that he didn’t know for sure if Warner Bros. had officially accepted the script or not, and suggested that if a new name suddenly appears on the film’s IMDb page that things are probably back in flux. Hopefully things enter a more concrete stage sooner rather than later, as nobody involved with the first film is getting any younger.