For only one night a year, all crime is legal within the United States, including the most heinous acts imaginable. Chaos and anarchy reign in the streets, and bloodshed is the order of the day. That simple, yet refreshingly original premise provides the foundation for The Purge series of films, a horror/thriller franchise brought to the world by genre kingpins Blumhouse Productions (Sinister, Insidious).
It's been known for some time that a third installment in The Purge oeuvre was officially in the offing, and initial speculation had the release date being as soon as summer 2015. This would fall right in line with the summer 2013 and summer 2014 releases of the first two films. However, it would now appear that Blumhouse and returning writer/director James DeMonaco have instead decided to take their time with The Purge 3, as multiple outlets are reporting that the film has been pushed to a release date of July 1, 2016.
While the original Purge film failed to impress critics, audiences flocked to it in droves, earning Blumhouse and distributor Universal Pictures a hefty $90 million return on only a $3 million production budget. The second Purge film, subtitled Anarchy, gave audiences what they seemed to want, opening up what was once a fairly simple home invasion story into a tale of survivors fighting for their lives throughout a whole city. As you might expect, it jumped up over the $100 million mark at the box office, on a budget of only $9 million.
Needless to say, a third movie was all but set in stone from the moment Anarchy ruled theaters. The question now becomes, what will The Purge 3 have in store for audiences? Instead of opening up the story's scope even further, early scuttlebutt instead purported that The Purge 3 would take things back to where it all started. The potential plot is said to focus on the very first Purge, and the circumstances that led to such a horrific, unfathomably brutal concept becoming as American as apple pie and Old Glory.
That said, the idea that The Purge 3 would be a prequel was last discussed publicly by producer Jason Blum around the time of Anarchy's theatrical release. For all we know, the year-long delay for Purge 3 may be due to Blum and DeMonaco deciding to take things in a different creative direction, or at least give the existing script a serious overhaul.
While all the major behind the scenes personnel is returning for round three of The Purge, just who will bring the story's characters to life remains unclear, as no casting announcements have been made up to this point. If the creators go with the prequel scenario, it's hard to see a believable avenue for the return of characters from the first two films, outside of maybe cameos showing their lives before the change took place.
Then again, The Purge is a franchise built entirely on its inventive hook, not on any particular actors. Universal and Blumhouse clearly know this already, as illustrated by the fact that Anarchy featured a cast of almost entirely unknowns. That film proved that whether it be Ethan Hawke or Frank Grillo fronting a Purge film, if you screen it, audiences will come. Now the challenge becomes making a threequel worthy of the millions of dollars it will doubtlessly rake in.
The Purge 3 hits theaters on July 1st, 2016.