Warner Bros. reportedly began development of The Hangover Part II prior to the release of the first film, in response to stellar test-audience reactions. It’s not so shocking then that the massive box office success of the sequel has convinced studio heads to all but officially greenlight a third Hangover as well.

Director Todd Phillips was already talking about Hangover 3 before Part II even hit theaters, (jokingly?) claiming that a trilogy had been envisioned even before Phil, Stu, and Alan’s first round of drug and booze-fueled hijinks in sin city hit theaters. Regardless of the truth, that is exactly what’s on the menu now.

According to Tracking Board, Hangover 2 co-screenwriter Craig Mazin has been recruited to begin working on the third Hangover flick – one which Phillips previously said would “certainly not [have] the same template you’ve seen [in the first two ‘Hangover’ movies].” That alone is good news for moviegoers who were unimpressed by how much Hangover 2 was an uninspired carbon copy of the original film.

Unfortunately, Mazin doesn’t exactly have a great track record. Prior to his working on Hangover 2, he scripted comedies like Rocketman and lackluster spoofs like Scary Movie 4 and Superhero Movie. While it’s unlikely that Mazin will ultimately be the only writer to work on Hangover 3 (multiple screenwriters contributed to the first two Hangover flicks), his involvement doesn’t exactly read as a plus.

Hangover 2 has already grossed some $200 million worldwide, but the true test of the film’s popularity with the average moviegoer will occur next weekend. Even though mediocre to poor word-of-mouth began circling around the sequel just before its release, most people had already made up their mind about whether or not they would be checking out the Wolfpack’s latest acts of debauchery over the Memorial Day holiday frame. Box office returns for the second Hangover pic will undoubtedly drop off heavily in the future, simply because it’s opening was so front-loaded – the buzz around the movie will either enhance or cushion that blow.

Sequels that bear a strong resemblance to their predecessors are nothing new in Hollywood; that almost seems like an unofficial rule when it concerns the followup to an unexpected smash comedy venture (ex. Back to the Future Part II, Ghostbusters II, etc.). However, enthusiasm for the franchise generally seems to diminish by the time Part III rolls around, as even those who enjoyed the second installment are usually far less pumped by the prospect of possibly seeing (essentially) the same thing once again. Whether or not that will be the case for the Hangover trilogy finale remains to be seen.

One free idea for Phillips and Co.: It would be nice to have at least one film where we actually see the wolpack wolves out-of-their-mind-wasted, instead of just witnessing the after effects. It would also give the actors something new to do.

Expect to hear more official news about The Hangover Part III over the next year – including what famous locale will serve as the setting (Amsterdam?) and what new celebrity cameos will be in the cards.

Source: Tracking Board (via Moviehole)