TRON: Legacy falls somewhere between the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie and John Carter, as far as successful Disney live-action tentpoles go. The TRON sequel earned mixed reviews for having an impressive 3D CGI surface that covers (compensates?) for a muddled sci-fi story and subtext, but it earned just north of its $170 million budget stateside (and more than doubled that tally at the global box office), so the Mouse House has slowly, but steadily, been gathering together the ingredients necessary to cook a proper followup.

The studio has allowed the TRON 3 (a.k.a. the TRON: Legacy sequel) screenplay to be passed around and exchanged between a few different writers over the years since Legacy released, in addition to letting director Joseph Kosinski step out and make another futuristic sci-fi blockbuster altogether, in the form of the Tom Cruise vehicle Oblivion. However, according to Bruce Boxleitner (the actor who plays the Tron character), a third film installment has been waiting to receive an official greenlight this whole time.

Kosinski wants a version of TRON 3 that “blows the doors off this franchise,” but indicates that can only happen if the latest script draft by up-and-comer Jesse Wigutow (who’s also writing The Crow reboot) delivers the goods he’s looking for.

The filmmaker appeared at WonderCon 2013 to promote Oblivion (which opens in theaters later this month), but had some encouraging things to say about where the script development process is at – and what he expects TRON 3 to have, which Legacy did not:

“… I think I’m two weeks away from getting the draft. This is a story we’ve been working on since 2009, so that’s four years now. I’m really excited about the idea that we have for it. I think it delivers on the promise that both TRON movies have made. It opens the movie up, in a way that I think is going to give it a much broader appeal. Whereas [the previous film] really, ultimately, in the end, catered most to TRON fans, this idea broadens it some more, in really exciting ways.”

Legacy focuses heavily on the creator/creation theme implied by its title, but fails to plumb the depths of either the ramifications of The Grid or how the technological world engineered by Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) compares to the gadgets and digital harware used in the present-day. Kosinski’s right, when he indicates the movie was more successful in giving steadfast TRON fans what they want – in terms of light-cycles, disc battles and the Grid setting realized through modern effects – but that it falls short, as far as appealing to moviegoers who don’t care so much about the (admittedly, quite dazzling) bells and whistles go:

“But, it’s all about the script and making sure that that story is compelling enough to get all of us back together.  Those movies are hard to make.  It’s a two-and-a-half to three-year journey.  So, to go back in there and go back to the Grid, it’s going to have to be a pretty spectacular script.  We’ve got a great writer on it, so we’ll see.”

That 2-3 year production timeline puts TRON 3 on course to arrive by either 2015 or 2016, in keeping with longtime reports about filming getting underway by 2014. A late 2015 release date seems feasible, possibly setting the threequel on course to arrive almost exactly five years after Legacy opened in December 2010. It could also move to a Summer launch date, in which case the Mouse House will wait until 2016 (since it already has Pirates of the Caribbean 5 and possibly Star Wars: Episode VII opening in Summer 2015).

Lastly, here’s what Kosniski said about the official title:

It has a working title, yeah.  TR3N will be our code name.  We have an idea, but nothing is set in stone yet.  We have some exciting ideas.

TR3N seems unlikely to serve as the official title, if only because many non-TRON fans seem unaware that Legacy is, in fact, a sequel to the 1982 movie (starring Jeff Bridges as the younger Kevin Flynn). Similarly, there’s a strong possibility that the new installment will revolve largely around Quorra (Olivia Wilde) and her experience, so the title should reflect that in the same way Legacy references Sam Flynn’s (Garret Hedlund) journey in that film.

We’ll keep you posted on TRON 3 development as more information is released.

Source: Joseph Kosinski (via Collider)