The Maze Runner began as a young adult book series by author James Dashner that has since become a successful Century Fox movie franchise directed by Wes Ball. The second installment, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, arrives in theaters this month (at the time of writing this), while Ball is already in the planning stages for the final installment, The Death Cure.
Maze Runner introduced a post apocalyptic future where a group of teenagers find themselves part of a deadly experiment engineered by an evil organization of scientists, while Scorch Trials will and Death Cure will explore the aftermath of these events; the teens’ search for the truth about the experiment’s dark purpose, their fight to retrieve their stolen memories, and what happens when they encounter the warring factions dividing the survivors of Earth. If that seems like a lot of narrative ground to cover, then it’s fair to say: Ball agrees.
Speaking exclusively to Collider, Ball revealed that there will be a major time jump between Scorch Trials and Death Cure, as a means of stream-lining the over-arching storyline:
“This next one will be cool because we’re gonna cut maybe a year later. Yeah, so it’ll be cool. Some things have happened off screen, which is gonna make the movie feel even bigger.”
The Maze Runner director has approached the series as separate pieces of the story and used the geographical differences and locations to enhance the themes of each chapter. Ball emphasized that this will continue to be his approach on Death Cure, during his interview with Collider:
“We’re working on the third one right now, working to make it even better and even cooler, and doing the same thing we did on this last one where it’s a different movie. It’s gonna be a different kind of an engine, a different kind of genre almost and a different sort of color palette and terrain. It’s gonna be cool. It’s gonna be very, very cool I think.”
Ball has long maintained that he doesn’t want to split Death Cure into two movies; as such, unlike other young adult sci-fi/dystopia film series (specifically, The Hunger Games and Divergent), the Maze Runner movie franchise will uphold the three installment format of its source novels. Skipping forward a year and possibly cutting action from Dashner’s books (either by having it occur off-screen or via montage) could be a smart move that allows Ball to better adapt the Maze Runner source material for the big screen – while still preserving enough of the original work’s content, at the same time.
On the other hand, whereas something like the two-part Hunger Games movie series finale has been criticized for unnecessarily drawing out its source novel’s narrative, Death Cure does face the danger of over-compressing its source material; meaning, the final Maze Runner movie could feel like it’s rushing to cover too much story all at once. Such is the tricky nature of the adaption process.
Still, after a few YA movie franchise finales that most would agree didn’t need to be split up (see also The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 & 2), filmgoers may be more forgiving if Death Cure plays out as an overly-succinct conclusion, by comparison.
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials will be released in theaters on September 18th, 215, followed by The Death Cure on February 17th, 2017.