It may've taken 28 years, but the Ender's Game movie adaptation finally opened in U.S. theaters this past weekend. However, between the lukewarm critical response - our own Kofi Outlaw's review wryly notes that the adaptation defies expectations (good and bad) by falling "squarely in the middle of the pool" - and a respectable box office opening around $28 million (but against a $110 million budget), there's no guarantee yet of a sequel; much less, that the film will birth a new franchise that goes beyond movie #2.
Fans of author Orson Scott Card's source material will be aware that the Ender's Game sequel novel, Speaker for the Dead, is a far cry from its predecessor. Indeed, the sequel installment in Card's Ender Saga takes it cues from the Alien franchise and jumps ahead far in time, some 3,000 years after the events that transpire in Ender's Game. Question is, if the Ender's Game movie franchise lives to see another day, will it follow down that same path? There's a reasonable chance that the answer is "no," in part because Card is currently writing a novel that could be the basis for a more traditional Hollywood sequel.
WARNING: ENDER'S GAME SPOILERS AHEAD
Speaker for the Dead catches up with an older Andrew Wiggin - who has long abandoned the name Ender because of its association with his genocide against the Formics - after he's spent thousands of years searching for a plant where the Formic Hive Queen may rebirth her species. Thanks to the benefits of relativistic space travel, Mr. Wiggin is only around 35 years old when he sets out to another planet colonized by humans - called Lusitania - which is also home to a different sentient extraterrestrial species, known as the Pequeninos (a.k.a. "piggies").
Ender's Game writer/director Gavin Hood told Hero Complex that a movie sequel - in the event that it does get a greenlight - might not go that route:
"[Would I make a sequel is] a great question, but I think it’s such a difficult one to answer, because the sequel 'Speaker for the Dead' takes place 30 years after, so we’re in an interesting place. I think we have to hope that audiences respond to the film… And Orson is apparently writing something that’s more of a direct follow called ["Fleet School"]. Obviously, from the studio’s point of view, they’d almost certainly want to move the characters from this film into the next journey. So it may be that 'Speaker for the Dead' is not the sequel now..."
Indeed, Speaker for the Dead is such a far cry from the storyline featured in the first Ender book, one could argue that it essentially forms a separate trilogy with the third and fourth installments, Xenocide and Children of the Mind. With that in mind, it's easier to understand why Hood is doubtful about Speaker's prospects of getting a film adaptation, even though it would be saddled with fewer of the artistic compromises that come with creating an easy-to-follow continuity (for a related discussion, see our pros/cons list for original cast members returning in Star Wars: Episode VII).
Moreover, in the case of the Ender series, the producers might be all the more hesitant about straying too far from the young adult narrative template, given its lucrative nature (see: Twilight, The Hunger Games). That wouldn't be a concern if the Ender's Game movie sequel were to be based on Card's upcoming "Fleet School" book, which the controversial author - and Southern Virginia University professor - discussed in a video recently posted to the SVU official Youtube account.
Here is how Card summarized the beginning of the "Fleet School" saga:
"[The new book is] for a YA audience, but it’s about what happens to Battle School after the International Fleet loses its purpose of war. It becomes what is called Fleet School and it prepares kids to be commanders [and] explorers in the colonies that are forming. [We] get to see as the school administrators repurpose the school. The Battle Room is still there, but it’s a whole different kind of education..."
Thing is, though, Card has spent a lot of time playing in this sandbox already, having published the Ender's Game book quartet, additional novels set in the universe and the spinoff book series, The Shadow Saga (which revolves around Ender's Battle School peer, Bean) - but, arguably, with depleted quality, despite healthy book sales. Between creative burnout and the indication that Card is writing these new books with a potential film adaptation in mind (because that approach worked great for Mark Millar on Kick-Ass 2), there's reason to be cautious about these novels serving as inspiration for the movies iteration hereon out.
Then again, said Ender's Game movie sequel is far from a sure thing right now, so we'll have to wait and see how all this pans out. In the meantime, feel free to share with us your own thoughts about the first movie (and whether or not you're even interested in seeing this franchise live on).
Ender's Game is now playing in theaters.
Source: LA Times