Lights Out recently joined the ranks of smaller-scale genre films that have done quite well this summer. With solid reviews, the horror film focused on a supernatural entity that only comes out in the dark gave audiences what they came for. Compared to the larger studio tentpole films that have under-performed, a $5 million budgeted film that opens to $20+ million in its first weekend certainly signifies success.
It must all be great news for director David F. Sandberg, the Swedish filmmaker who was given the chance to adapt his three-minute short film into a full-length feature, produced by James Wan. Sandberg is currently busy filming Annabelle 2, but that doesn't mean he's flipped the switch for good on his recent hit film.
Deadline was first to report news of a Lights Out sequel being developed by New Line Cinemas, with Sandberg signed on to direct. Wan will be back to produce with screenwriter Eric Heisserer coming back to pen the follow-up as well. It is too early to have any clues involving the story or any returning cast members, but it is encouraging to hear the whole filmmaking team seems to be back on board.
The original short film was made by Sandberg and his wife, Lotta Losten, who also has a small role in the theatrical adaptation. It was made with almost no money, but still won Sandberg a directing award from a British online short films collective, Bloody Cuts. That short ended up being successful enough to start getting Sandberg calls from agents, producers and studios. It worked out well, as New Line was among those who gave Sandberg a call and now they've made a movie together, which has grossed its budget back many times over.
In addition to Lights Out, Sandberg and Losten have made other short films together. They have hopes to turn some of those into theatrical features as well. New Line is currently in talks to acquire at least one of them, which may go over well depending on how decent his Annabelle sequel turns out.
While it is understandable to learn news of a sequel being in development for a horror film that goes over well financially (having good reviews is just the cherry on top for this genre), it would be better to hear of Sandberg working on more original projects. Lights Out was better than expected and part of the joy came from watching a horror film that actually concluded without a sequel-teasing ending. Given how thin the premise is, it doesn't exactly spell out an easy path for making a worthy sequel. There's also the matter of all the shorts Sandberg and his wife have made, which could be a better use of their time.
Still, if everyone behind the making of the film is on board to return, perhaps they actually broke ground on a few ideas to make a sequel really work. The same characters don't necessarily need to return, but ideally the gimmick of turning the lights on and off, with a monster appearing in between, allows for solid tension and scares in another film as well. Given that the first film worked well enough for audiences, it will just be a matter of waiting and seeing if it was worth turning the lights back on to develop this follow-up film.
Lights Out is in theaters now. We'll keep you updated on Lights Out 2 as more information becomes available.