It’s been slightly more than six years since Tron: Legacy added a second installment to the sci-fi universe Disney established with the 1982 film Tron. The underwhelming performance of that sequel prompted Disney to pull the plug on a third installment of the franchise, but now Legacy director Joseph Kosinski has suggested Disney might indeed go back to the grid someday.
Discussing the future of the franchise after a special IMAX screening of Legacy, Kosinski indicated that a third film isn’t entirely out of the question for Disney, and revealed the original plans for the now-stalled sequel.
“The movie was called Tron: Ascension,” confirmed Kosinski in a post-screening interview with Collider, adding that the script was “about 80 percent” finished when Disney made the decision to halt development on the film.
Describing it as “an invasion movie from inside the machine coming out,” Kosinski also offered up some details about how the end of Legacy would inform the story behind Ascension.
“So we hinted at that at the end of Legacy with Quorra coming out, but the idea for Ascension was a movie [in which] 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,” he explained. “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,” he continued, “trying to figure out where she belongs having lived in the real world for a few years, and where does she fit in.”
According to Kosinski, the reason the project was canceled had more to do with the wealth of high-profile properties Disney had accumulated at that point than any negative assessment of the Tron franchise.
“You have to remember that when we made Tron: Legacy, Disney did not own Marvel,” said Kosinski. “Disney did not own Lucasfilm … [but] they own everything now.
“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 … Would [a Tron movie] 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.”
Released in 2010, Tron: Legacy earned $172 million in U.S. theaters and $400 million worldwide, which would be more impressive if the film wasn’t saddled with a $170 million budget. The film starred Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde, who were both attached to star in the third film initially, with Kosinski also returning to the director’s chair. Plans for the third film were officially scrapped in May 2015.