Without going into heavy spoilers, Tron: Legacy left multiple directions for the franchise to continue, with little moments, like a blink-and-you’ll-miss him cameo by Cillian Murphy as the son of one of the original movie’s antagonist, Ed Dillnger (played by David Warner). The end of the movie also leaves enough directions for the franchise to easily continue, and there is no doubt that Disney and the filmmakers would love to see Tron continue as a blockbuster franchise.
But sources have told the website What Is Playing that Disney execs are not thrilled with the lower than expected opening weekend results, which they had predicted would at least top $50 million. Restless executives do not greenlight $200 million sequels.
Tron: Legacy cost around $170 million to make, and Disney is said to have spent close to $120 million on the promotion alone. This weekend the filmed opened well, with $43.6 million and $66 million global, but it was nowhere near the blockbuster opening that studios typically like to see when the budget is over the $150 million mark. So the true test with Tron: Legacy will be to see if it has staying power and legs to carry it through the holiday season.
Tron: Legacy will need to convince audiences to go see the movie more than once, and to bring new friends with them—not an easy task with the majority of the reviews being decidedly so-so (including our own review). At its current pace, analysts are suggesting that Tron: Legacy will manage to recoup its budget with around $50 million gross. While that might sound like a solid return, and for most films it would be, but Disney had hoped that Tron: Legacy would be a giant blockbuster, and could potentially have been the top grossing film of the year.
So for now a Tron sequel will be dependent on what happens next. If the film does manage to turn out big numbers over the next few weeks, things will look good for a sequel. If not, then we will have to wait and see how the movies DVD and blu-ray sales are before a decision is made.
But the movie is still on track to make money, and so the people behind Tron have begun to work under the assumption that a sequel will be greenlit. And if it is, here is what we might see in a third Tron film.
BEWARE MINOR SPOILERS.
The What is Playing source also said that there are at least five or six different potential storylines floating around, and the writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz are currently gearing up to begin scripting the sequel if Disney decides to go ahead with the another Tron. So everything could change, but here are a few theories.
Tron: Legacy ended in such a way that suggests Jeff Bridges might not return to the franchise. There is every chance that he still might appear in either a starring role, or perhaps just a cameo, but with Bridges’ demand in Hollywood and the character’s fate, it seems unlikely. So the franchise would then shift onto the shoulders of Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde as the primary stars. If that is the case, the producers would likely attempt to make a connection to the original movie through the remaining cast members.
That could mean a bigger part for Alan Bradley/Tron (Bruce Boxleitner), who was featured in a cameo in Tron: Legacy. The fate of Tron is debatable, but no matter what, it is a sci-fi film, so characters could always find a way to return. Another character that might also return, is Laura/Yori (played by Cindy Morgan). Morgan appeared in a brief promotional clip that showed Alan giving a speech at Encom (about a second of that clip can be seen in the movie, although Morgan is not seen), and the character of Yori might also return. If Laura does return, it appears that she would be Alan’s wife, which would make her something of a surrogate mother to Sam.
As mentioned, Cillian Murphy appeared in a cameo as a programmer working for Encom, that seemed to have a somewhat antagonistic relationship with the board. The character’s father was the creator of the Master Control Program, and was represented in the digital world as the enemy leader Sark, so the son may follow in the father’s footsteps and become an enemy to Sam. According to the source that spoke to What is Playing, Murphy is already on board for the next film (assuming it happens), and he will be playing two characters.
The producers and writers claimed that Tron: Legacy was “Flynn’s story”, and that certain characters were not used so they could be “saved for a later film where they’d potentially have something to do.” So it sounds possible that the next film could feature Morgan and Boxleitner, along with Murphy. With Murphy returning as Dillinger’s son, that could also open the door for a return of David Warner as the elder Dillinger, although that is just guess work.
So for now everything about Tron 3 is wait and see, and the next few weeks will be important. If the film does well, expect a sequel to be greenlit. If not, it will come down to the DVD and blu-ray sales.
[Update: Disney execs appear to be very close to green lighting a third Tron film! So please sound off below on your guesses on what the next installment may contain.]