Universal took in more box office revenue globally during 2012 than any other year in its 100-year history, between movies exceeding expectations (Ted), proving to be moderate successes (Snow White and the Huntsman, Bourne Legacy) and even a few stumbling domestically, but turning out more popular with the foreign crowd (Battleship). Hence, studio heads are prioritizing sequels to those films - save for the Hasbro board game adaptation.
Mark Wahlberg is saying that Ted 2 should begin production before the year is out, but Bourne 5 and the Snow White sequel have been running in place for more than eight months. Universal chairman Adam Fogelson recently spoke about those blockbusters in the making, in addition to shedding light on plans for what could be the start of a lucrative trilogy: the Fifty Shades of Grey movie.
Here's what Fogelson offered THR on Bourne 5:
"The point of the last movie was to create a universe, a world and characters that give us a lot of freedom and flexibility in how we go forward. Yeah, the movie didn't perform the way the last one did. It also didn't cost what the last one did. It performed more along the lines of how the first one did. I absolutely see us doing more Bourne, 100 percent yes."
Of course, the big question on (most) everyone's mind about Bourne 5 is whether Matt Damon will be coming back to join Bourne Legacy stars Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz. Damon has spoken time and time again about the importance of re-incorporating the Jason Bourne character without it being forced, but Fogelson isn't making that issue a deal-breaker (for obvious reasons):
"Matt has talked about the possibility of coming back, and we totally respect that and are excited if and when he wants to have conversations. But I think the last movie gave us a big bunch of options to pursue a next chapter."
The Snow White and the Huntsman followup is a project where there's been a lot of back-and-forth, with regard to where it's going. Even before the first movie made its way into theaters, we were hearing about plans for the sequel to center more on the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth). However, that tune changed, after the highly-publicized affair between actress Kristen Stewart and director Rupert Sanders.
Fogelson offered a carefully-worded update as follows:
"We're actively developing the [sequel] right now with Kristen's character central, as well as the Huntsman role. We think that for a first movie out of the gate to do basically $400 million worldwide, there is a lot of opportunity. I don't think Rupert is pursuing the next Snow White as a directing opportunity."
Last year, Sanders was in consideration to direct the Van Helsing reboot which Universal is developing for Tom Cruise to headline. Meanwhile, Steven Spielberg's decision to postpone filming Robopocalypse has left an opening in Hemsworth's schedule, which he was quick to fill with Michael Man's new thriller. However, if Universal gets the ball rolling faster on the Snow White sequel, it could be ready to go when Hemsworth is free again - that is, before he sets to working on a higher-priority blockbuster, in the shape of Marvel's The Avengers 2.
Lastly, Fogelson was questioned about concerns that the studio is moving too fast on a Fifty Shades of Grey movie, emulating Summit's approach to churning out Twilight installments as quickly as possible (a fitting comparison, given the novel's origins):
"I certainly understand why some people might take that point of view. But I don't believe that [author E.L. James] had any interest in going to a studio where rushing it into production was the vision. I don't believe that the second or third film would have benefited from that strategy. And I think that there are totally legitimate questions about what this book is as a movie."
The way screenwriter Kelly Marcel (Saving Mr. Banks) talks about the project, it sounds as though it might be impossible to avoid getting an NC-17 Rating, but Universal seems more likely to insist on an R-Rated theatrical cut (and save all the really naughty stuff for DVD and Blu-ray). For now though, the search is on to find a director, with Fogelson saying there are "talented, serious filmmakers" in talks; though, heavily-rumored candidate Angelina Jolie is not among them.
He also said:
"I will tell you that it is an absolute priority for us. It's conceivable that we could be ready to release it as early as next summer."
How about it - which of these Universal projects are you most/least interested in? Let us know in the comments section.