It's been reported that the co-director of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Joachim Rønning is in talks to helm Maleficent 2, and that a filming schedule is in place. Rønning will slot into the existing creative group already working on the project, which is fully expected to include returning lead Angelina Jolie. The sequel to one of Disney's most-profitable live-action reboots has taken some significant steps nearer to production.
Rønning's work on Dead Men Tell No Tales resulted in a film that had mixed reviews, but still grossed over $794 million worldwide and made a big impact during the Memorial Day weekend earlier this year. While future entries in that particular franchise are still being weighed, he may well be assigned directing duties for more sequels if and when they are announced. The Norwegian filmmaker already has a busy schedule ahead of him, with commitments to directing an adaptation of the last Michael Crichton novel (Micro) for Amblin Entertainment and Universal. Not only that but he is also looking to film a project called Origins with Jerry Bruckheimer, from an original story that he co-wrote.
However according to Deadline, Rønning is now being tapped to direct the much-anticipated sequel to 2014's Maleficent. It's also reported that the project is due to go before the cameras in the first quarter of 2018, as long as there are no complications. The original was one of Disney's most financially successful attempts at reimagining its animated classics as live-action epics - before Beauty and the Beast that is - when it made in excess of $758 million globally. It told an alternative version of Sleeping Beauty, with the supposedly 'evil' sorceress shown as a wronged woman, and greatly benefited from a spirited performance by Jolie in the title role. A follow-up has long been in development but details regarding a director or filming schedule have been lacking until now.
Jolie's involvement in the sequel has always been a point of conjecture, given her own filmmaking work and personal commitments. However, she did confirm that she would indeed return to the role during a promotional tour last month. That will presumably remain the case with the stated shooting schedule and with Rønning behind the camera. It does seem to squash an existing rumor that suggested Jolie would be involved with the filming of the next Dark Universe film Bride of Frankenstein, something which director Bill Condon hinted at. This would now be impossible due to scheduling clashes. Obviously, things could still feasibly change at some point in the future.
After Dead Men Tell No Tales, Rønning is certainly comfortable with big-screen fantasy effects and larger-than-life characters, so it would seem to be a good fit. The script has been fine-tuned by James Bond screenwriter Jez Butterworth , along with the writer of the original movie Linda Woolverton. So the ingredients for a superior sequel are all there, and it remains to be seen how they all work together. We'll bring you further news on Maleficent 2 as we get it.