With a summer blockbuster as big as Guillermo del Toro's robots vs. monsters movie Pacific Rim, it's understandable that Legendary Pictures would begin planning for a sequel, and had already commissioned a sequel script from Travis Beacham by December 2012. Based on this fact, and the fact that del Toro has been dropping hints about the sequel's development for some time now, you'd expected Pacific Rim 2 to be a done deal already.
There are, of course, some film franchises that jump right into multi-sequel planning without waiting to see how the first film performs; Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy is an example of this, as is Disney's new set of Star Wars films. A brand new intellectual property like Pacific Rim, however, is too much of a box office risk for Legendary Pictures to sign off on a sequel before the numbers for the first film come in.
CEO Thomas Tull has told Deadline that the studio is intending to play this one cautiously: “We’d like to do it but it’s up to the audience — ultimately we’ll have to see how it does."
Del Toro, at least, is ploughing ahead with the plans for Pacific Rim 2 unreservedly. The movie already has an accompanying graphic novel with a prequel story in the works, as well as a video game tie-in, and the director seems intent on turning Pacific Rim into a major commercially viable franchise. Joking that the sequel will have "a Mexican Jaeger," Del Toro outlined the stage that the sequel is currently at:
"We’ve been talking about the idea for it and working on a pitch... Having had two to three years pass from the first Pacific Rim to the second movie, we can also prepare a good video game, continue the graphic novel and continue the mythology."
Since Pacific Rim isn't out yet, it's difficult to ascertain the implications of a sequel picking up after an interval of a few years. The most obvious plot would be having the humans forced to fight off a second wave of Kaiju, but based on del Toro's previous assurances that he doesn't intend to repeat a single beat from the first movie in the sequel, it seems more likely that Pacific Rim 2 will go in quite a different direction. Beacham recently revealed that the first film has at least one scene that does not take place on Earth, so perhaps future installments will find the story stretching into the Kaiju's own dimension.
Although Pacific Rim doesn't have the kind of nostalgic force behind it that made the Transformers franchise consistently profitable throughout all three movies, it does have the benefit of being extremely well-positioned within the summer release schedule. It's arriving in theaters on the same day as Adam Sandler comedy sequel Grown-Ups 2, but won't see any direct genre competition until RED 2 and R.I.P.D. come out a week later.
Do you agree that Tull is right to be cautious about Pacific Rim's prospects, or do you think that the film is a guaranteed summer hit?
Pacific Rim is out in theaters on July 12, 2013.