For a long time we hadn't heard anything noteworthy about Inferno, the upcoming third installment in the Robert Langdon film series after The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons (based on the fourth Langdon novel authored by Dan Brown). Then, less than two months ago, the (unexpected) news broke that the project is gearing up for a Spring 2015 production start... and today, Sony has officially delayed the movie from its previously-set December 2015 release date.
The delay for Inferno was anticipated, seeing how its original launch date wouldn't have allowed enough time for both production and post-production to be satisfactorily completed on the project. Not to mention, Sony had claimed a December 18th, 2015 release date for Inferno before Disney and Lucasfilm also settled on that day to launch Star Wars: Episode VII. In the battle between professors of religious iconography and Jedi, well, our money would've been on the ones with lightsabers.
Inferno is now set to reach theaters on October 14th, 2016, which should provide director Ron Howard the time necessary to make the film as he sees fit. Right now, the only other movie scheduled to hit theaters that same weekend is the children's fantasy novel adaptation A Monster Calls, featuring Liam Neeson as the titular "monster" (via motion-capture performance) and directed by Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage). However, the period crime drama Live by Night - starring and directed by Ben Affleck - is due to open a week earlier, and will provide some direct competition for Inferno's adult moviegoer target audience.
Inferno takes place after the previous Langdon films and picks up with the symbology guru, when he wakes up one morning in a hospital in Florence. Langdon (again played by Tom Hanks), having no memory of the past few days, must once again put his mystery-solving abilities to the task, in order to determine how a brilliant, but terrible, criminal plot is connected to Dante's "Inferno". David Koepp, who co-penned Angels & Demons, is also handling scripting duties on Inferno.
More than seven years will have passed between Langdon movie adventures, by the time Inferno arrives in theaters in 2016, and a decade will have passed since Da Vinci Code, by the time Hanks reprises the Langdon character for a third time. There was a significant drop-off at the box office between the first two Langdon films ($758 million vs. $486 million worldwide), and that downward trend may very well only get worse with Inferno, now that demand for Brown's literature has cooled even more.
That said, there's certainly still a market for this movie, and it's always possible that third time will prove to be the charm for Hanks and Howard, as far as them delivering a Langdon film that's better critically-received than their previous ones. We've got a ways to go before Inferno arrives on the scene, so best to wait and see if that outlook gets better (or worse) over the next two years.
Inferno opens in U.S. theaters on October 14th, 2016.