A belated sequel to one of Kurt Russell's most popular films in the 90s could be on the cards, as there are rumors that Universal has tapped a director for an official follow-up to Backdraft. The film may also be shooting as early as next month, and have a leading actor from the original film. According to reports the production is currently called Backdraft II and location work has already been locked in.
Backdraft was directed by Ron Howard (Solo: A Star Wars Story) and written by Gregory Widen (the original Highlander). Released in 1991, it told the story of two brothers, Lt. Stephen "Bull" McCaffrey (Russell) and Brian McCaffrey (William Baldwin). Both are committed and foolhardy firefighters, but they have fierce differences that need to be put aside when they try to find the identity of a serial arsonist. The film had a stellar cast that also included Robert De Niro, Donald Sutherland, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Mostly an action/disaster movie with added character details, it was praised for its effects (winning three Oscars), but got mixed reviews due to the quality of the drama. It was a popular film at the box office, though, garnering an impressive-for-the-90s $152M worldwide. It has since gone on to become a benchmark for fictional fire-fighting, and it directly inspired NBC's Chicago Fire, with which it shared the same producer John L. Roman.
Now Moviehole has reported that a direct sequel to Backdraft is currently being pulled together. The rumor is that Universal are keen on producing a follow-up that will have strong links to the 1991 original. Production is said to begin in Romania and Toronto next month, and Baldwin may be returning to reprise his role as the surviving McCaffrey brother. The plot will apparently focus on the son of Russell’s character, who still has a grudge about his uncle's actions in the first film. Now an investigator with the Chicago F.D., he has to confront arms dealers who use deadly fires as a distraction. Universal are said to have tapped Spanish director Gonzalo López-Gallego as the man to helm the production.
Both Universal and Baldwin are yet to confirm or deny the existence of Backdraft II, and as a revived property it comes as something of a surprise with no previous buzz alluding to it. Information regarding further cast members and the release or distribution of the film have also yet to appear. However it remains one of Baldwin's biggest hits, and a fondly remembered role for Russell, so it could be a canny move by Universal. The recent Only the Brave also managed to revive some interest in the genuine bravery of firefighters.
Director López-Gallego is probably best known for the horror movies Apollo 18 and Open Grave. It remains to be seen how the filmmaker will deal with extensive fire-effects and family drama if the reports are accurate. Nonetheless if the rumors are true and Baldwin is returning as Brian McCaffrey, it will at least draw in fans of the original despite the many years separating the two films. We'll bring you more news about Backdraft II when it's made available.