[See Update Below]
An international gross of $89 million isn't much of a take for widely-distributed movies these days. However, if that movie was made on a $15 million budget and still has many territories left to open in, the picture changes. Such is the situation with Mama, the Guillermo Del Toro-backed, Spanish-American co-production that has done surprisingly well since its late-January opening.
Apparently, Mama's success has greatly impressed distributor Universal Pictures International. Not only has the company decided to move forward into further ventures with foreign production companies, they have begun talks to help finance and distribute a sequel (or sequels) to Mama itself.
In an interview with Screen Daily, Universal Pictures President of International, David Kosse, has said that the success of Mama has set a sequel into the earliest stages of development. Kosse states:
"We think there’s potential for a Mama franchise... We’d like to do another one. But those conversations are in the early stages. Mama is the first of this type of model that we’ve had enormous success with so there are more opportunities for this kind of film.”
Mama – adapted from the infamously unsettling short film of the same name – concerns a couple that adopt nieces who have spent the last five years in the wilderness. Though wild themselves, the kids insist that they survived in the woods due to the aid of an otherworldly entity named "Mama." As Annabel (Jessica Chastain) and Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) struggle to raise two children who are essentially feral, increasingly disturbing events indicate that Mama may not just be an imaginary friend.
The revelation of talks for a Mama sequel will no doubt come as good news to the film's growing fanbase. That said, Mama is not the sort of horror movie to demand a sequel – after all, its bittersweet ending almost completely negates the need for one. Perhaps – if the movie's creators do indeed want to make this a franchise – further Mama installments could take up with new sets of characters within a setting where spirits and other supernatural entities act as protectors (and avengers) of the living.
If anything, Kosse has confirmed that Universal Pictures International will be much more willing to take risks on foreign co-productions as it moves into the future. Though we may not see a direct Mama sequel (and if we do, it may not make much of a splash), its success could open the gates for interesting, ambitious horror properties from the rest of the world.
UPDATE: Mama writer Barbara Muschietti has told Bleeding Cool that the news of a sequel is actually rather premature. Muschietti says that she has not been involved in any talks, stating:
"We were as surprised as you. There has not been any talk at all about it. I read the initial article… I think the journalist asked if that was a possibility and David Kosse didn’t shut it down but he didn’t go into it."
If anything, it appears that Muschietti and her brother, director Andres Muschietti, are looking to strike off in a new direction for their next project. As noted above, this makes sense given the finality of Mama's ending.
Does Muschietti's confusion imply that Universal has plans move forward with a Mama-based franchise with or without its creators? David Kosse does indeed intimate the desire for a sequel in the original interview, though in somewhat nebulous terms. Was he simply waffling to make his point about Universal Pictures International's desire for new co-productions with foreign companies? Stay tuned to Screen Rant as this story develops.
As Mama is still in theaters worldwide, it will obviously be some time until we see its (tentatively possible) sequel.