In 1982 the movie TRON was released. Inspired by early video games, it told the story of a programmer named Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) who gets downloaded into a computerized world by an artificial intelligence called MCP. Forced to fight and race to survive, like a character in a video game, Flynn eventually defeats MCP. The movie was among the first to use computer graphics, now seen regularly in filmmaking. While the movie was not a financial success, it received several good reviews and is considered a cult classic.
It was not until 2010 that a sequel was made - TRON: Legacy. 20 years after Kevin vanished and 27 years after the events of the first movie, Kevin's son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) gets pulled into a computer program where his father has been for the last two decades. Father and son have to stop the corrupted ruling program from leaving the computerized world. The film did better financially than its predecessor, though reviews were mixed. The highest praise for both films was for the visual effects. Before TRON: Legacy was even released though, a third TRON sequel entered into development.
TRON 3, however, has yet to actually come to fruition. Joseph Kosinski, who directed TRON: Legacy and was supposed to direct TRON 3 , spoke to Collider about what the film - titled TRON: Ascension - would have been and why it has yet to happen:
"I guess I can say that TRON 3 is in cryogenic freeze. So, it’s there. It’s not dead. It’s alive, but it’s sitting there, waiting for the right time to move forward. I mean, you have to remember that when we made TRON: Legacy, Disney did not own Marvel. Disney did not own Lucasfilm…they own everything now. But this was before they owned everything, so from the studio point of view, they have a certain number of slots and a certain amount of money to make movies and if you can make a Star Wars spinoff or another Marvel movie, which are all doing incredibly well, a TRON movie, even though I think it would do very well, the question is: Would it do as well as one of those? That is more the reason we haven’t seen another TRON is that Disney stock is flushed with really successful properties right now. But that doesn’t mean we won’t see one at one point."
TRON: Ascension was meant to be a direct sequel to TRON: Legacy according to Kosinski, bringing back stars Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde. Unlike the first two films - which mostly took place inside of computer programs - it would have largely taken place in the real world:
"The movie was called, “TRON: Ascension”, I think that’s out there. I think we got the script to about 80%. We were in good shape. We were probably eight or nine months out, which is still a good amount of distance from being ready to shoot it, but I think the script was in good shape. What I’m excited about is the concept, which is an invasion movie from inside the machine coming out as opposed to one we’ve usually seen. So we hinted at that at the end of Legacy with Quorra coming out, but the idea for Ascension was a movie that was, the first act was in the real world, the second act was in the world of TRON, or multiple worlds of TRON, and the third act was totally in the real world. And I think that really opens up, blows open the concept of TRON in a way that would be thrilling to see on screen. But there’s also a really interesting character study in Quorra and a 'Stranger in a Strange Land,' trying to figure out where she belongs having lived in the real world for a few years, and where does she fit in."
The good news for fans of the TRON franchise is that things are put in cryogenic freeze when you want to be able to bring them back to life. Or as Kosinski put it, there are options:
"It definitely doesn’t have to be on a movie screen. I don’t know if you saw the TRON ride, which opened in Shanghai and was amazing…I think the TRON franchise is alive in rides and I think there’s still interest in exploring other things like VR, but as far as the TV show, I don’t know, I think that would be tough. As you saw on screen, so much of the world has to be created digitally. You can’t just go and film a TRON movie, or at least the TRON side of it, so I don’t know. I would never say never. There’s possibly a version of that, but that’s up to Disney."
Keep checking in with Screen Rant for any new information about Tron: Ascension.