Matthew Vaughn's action-filled spy movie Kingsman: The Secret Service was one of the biggest surprise hits of this year. It had a lot of potential roadblocks to success: being based on a fairly unknown comic book series; a similarly little-known lead actor in Taron Egerton; a family-unfriendly R rating; a theatrical release in February, which is traditionally one of the worst months of the year in terms of box office results. Yet Kingsman ended up defying the odds and grossing over $412 million, as well as harvesting a crop of generally positive reviews.
Naturally a sequel is already on the cards, with Vaughn writing the script and potentially returning to direct as well. Unfortunately for 20th Century Fox, Egerton hasn't gone unnoticed and last month we heard that he was in talks to play the lead in Robin Hood: Origins, Lionsgate's upcoming retelling of one of England's most popular folk legends. Egerton has since firmly signed on the the project, and the resulting schedule issues mean that we now have a better idea of just how quickly Fox wants to get Kingsman 2 off the ground.
According to THR, Lionsgate and Fox are currently involved in a "tug-of-war" over Egerton, since Fox apparently has plans to start filming the Kingsman sequel in April 2016, while Lionsgate is eyeing up a February 2016 production start date for Robin Hood: Origins. While some movies may be able to wrap up principal photography in two months or less, a historical adventure like Robin Hood: Origins is clearly not going to have that kind of quick, easy shoot, which means that the two studios are currently facing a Hollywood custody battle over Egerton's time.
What this means for Kingsman fans is that, if Fox gets its own way, the sequel will begin filming in spring 2016 for a potential spring/summer 2017 release. Egerton's contract for the Kingsman movies predates his commitment to Robin Hood: Origins, which gives Fox an edge in that regard, but THR notes that pre-production on Robin Hood: Origins is more advanced, with the search for the actors who will play Robin's Merry Men already underway. As a sequel rather than the first entry in a potential franchise, Kingsman 2 may well have a smoother ride into production, but according to this report the script isn't even completed yet.
Egerton is definitely an actor on the rise. In addition to playing thug-turned-spy Gary "Eggsy" Unwin in Kingsman: The Secret Service and his new role as a young Robin Hood, he was also on the shortlist of actors to play Cyclops in X-Men: Apocalypse, though ultimately that role went to Tye Sheridan. Still, being on a shortlist for a significant character in a major franchise like that is indicative of the buzz surrounding Egerton.
Kingsman wasn't all about Egerton, however. The film was a two-hander with the talented but unrefined young agent being mentored by master spy Harry Hart, who was played by Colin Firth, and the success of the sequel may be tied into whether or not Firth returns. Robin Hood: Origins will be the first real test of whether Egerton can stand on his own as the titular lead of a new franchise, rather than simply a co-lead.
Kingsman: The Secret Service 2 doesn't yet have a release date, but can probably be expected some time in 2017.