It's not easy being an original property in Hollywood, where the box office tends to be dominated by reboots, remakes, sequels and adaptations, but last year Guillermo del Toro's large scale mechs-vs-monsters movie Pacific Rim managed to hold its own in the mid-summer release schedule with an eventual box office gross of over $411 million worldwide.
Del Toro has already confirmed that he's the process of writing a sequel with screenwriter Travis Beachman and there have been some potential hints about the plot from the cast numbers, such as Robert Kazinsky's speculation that it could be a prequel and Charlie Day's reveal that, at one point, his kaiju-loving character Newt was going to become a villain.
All the ideas in the world will amount to very little without a green light from Legendary Pictures, however, and when del Toro last spoke on the subject he made it clear that the studio had not yet guaranteed a sequel. Speaking in an interview with Collider, Legendary CEO and Pacific Rim producer Thomas Tull sounded positive about the idea of Pacific Rim 2 and the possibility of building a franchise from the first movie's modest success.
"We love being in business with Guillermo and frankly that movie, if you look it up, did I think more business than the first X-Men, did more than Batman Begins, our first movie, did more than Superman Returns, The Fast and the Furious, Star Trek- so for a movie that was an original property that we made up it’s done really well. It did north of 400 million dollars globally and both the home video sales and the merchandise have way over-indexed, so it seems like fans really loved the world. So we’re going to sit down with Guillermo and as long as we think it’s authentic and there’s something to say, we’re certainly open to it."
Legendary is releasing another big (both figuratively and literally) kaiju movie this summer with Gareth Edwards' reboot of Godzilla, and the success of that will likely also be a significant factor in whether in not Pacific Rim 2 gets a green light, since it will further test the mainstream appeal of the kaiju genre. As Tull mentions, the first installment did better overall than the opening chapters of major franchises like X-Men and Star Trek, but with a budget of nearly $200 million Pacific Rim was also more expensive than those movies.
At this point Tull's thoughts on that matter are about as promising as they could be without actually making any promises. If Legendary considers Pacific Rim to be a financial success for the studio then it bodes well for Beacham and del Toro's planned sequel, but we shouldn't count our kaiju before they've slipped through the underwater trans-dimensional portal. So to speak.
Back when the sequel talk first began, we argued that Pacific Rim doesn't necessarily even need a sequel. One of the major appeals of the first movie was that it was an original story rather than a reboot or a remake, and it might be more gratifying to see del Toro expend his energies on other original projects and just let Pacific Rim remain as a fun and memorable standalone movie, rather than the start of yet another franchise.
We'll let you know if Pacific Rim 2 gets any closer to getting off the ground.