None of the prequel/sequel concepts for I Am Legend got director Francis Lawrence excited, the filmmaker has revealed. The Will Smith version of I Am Legend was actually the third adaptation of the 1954 novella by Richard Matheson. Vincent Price played the title role in 1964’s The Last Man On Earth – a film was a direct inspiration on Night Of The Living Dead – and The Omega Man with Charlton Heston.
Smith’s I Am Legend proved to be a huge hit back in 2007, so naturally, Warner Bros. wanted a followup of some kind – the trouble is, the movie ended with Smith’s character dying pretty thoroughly. A prequel idea was pitched that would have revolved around Smith trying to lead some survivors to Washington as the world ends, and even encountering a vampire elephant along the way. There was also a sequel idea where Smith’s character Robert Neville was brought back via cloning before the idea of a followup was scrapped.
Now I Am Legend director Francis Lawrence has been reflecting on the movie on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, and why none of the sequel pitches worked. The filmmaker revealed if he had a chance to do the movie again, he’d keep the first hour and redo the rest. He also admits to the less than stellar CGI on the Darkseeker creatures
Warners was really, really, REALLY into coming up with something, and I just didn’t know how to do it… I saw very quickly after the movie came out, and I went ‘People came to see the last man on earth. We’ve done the last man on earth, he died at the end of the movie, we can’t do it again.’ But people weren’t in love with him as a character. It’s not Indiana Jones, like this kind of iconic character that you just want to see again and again and again.
And it just felt forced to do a prequel, and that was basically, we would have been doing Contagion. And to do something that’s a follow-up either doesn’t have him in it, or you have to do something really dumb, which is, you know, ‘Scientists have taken his DNA and reanimated him somehow!’ And that would have been really dumb, and so I just kind of bowed out.
The original ending to Smith’s I Am Legend revealed the creatures stalking Smith’s scientist are actually sentient, and he’s been the one hunting and killing them. Neville survived in this version but test audiences hated the ending, so it was re-shot so that the character dies during a moment of self-sacrifice. Given the success of the movie its no surprise Warners wanted a sequel, but like Lawrence says above, all the concepts they came up were too forced.
Smith has since ruled out returning for a sequel, so the odds of I Am Legend 2 happening now are very slim. There was talk in 2014 of the studio taking an original spec script called A Garden At The End Of The World and retooling it to be an I Am Legend reboot. Talk of that project has since gone quiet, though given the success of the previous movie and the evergreen concept of I Am Legend, it seems likely a reboot will happen at some point in the future.
Source: Happy Sad Confused