About those '300' sequel/prequel rumors

by Paul William Tenny

300Just randomly stumbled across a bunch of rumors about a possible sequel to Frank Miller's 300 this morning. I'm calling them rumors because the entire situation is so tenuous that it's almost laughable how far some bloggers will stretch the truth in order to get people's hopes up or score some incoming links..kind of like the ones I just handed out. IESB's lead-in for their story asks (rhetorically) "when does the second 300 film take place?" The honest answer is that nobody knows, regardless of what director Zack Snyder or Frank Miller are telling bloggers, there is no deal in place for a sequel or a prequel, and despite faux "confirmations" to the contrary.

No deal is in place, and the reality is you don't set out on your own to write a comic before you write a movie script based on it.

If the studio wants the movie, they are going to want the script first, last, and end of story.
A story published at firstshowing.net at the tail end of June -- naturally based on a story from yet another blog; these "stories" tend to grow every time a new blurb is written about the "big news" but amount to little more than a chain-letter of blog posts based on nothing but idle chatter amongst producers who are always going to be quick to tell you how they've got such and such blockbuster sequel "in development" -- has Gianni Nunnari saying that "they" are working with Snyder and Miller and that it would "involve a new story of some kind."

I don't know about you, but I'm really excited that their work together involves a new story.

Of some kind.

Without the studio involved.

"If you don't believe it, Collider says they spoke with Zack Snyder separately and confirmed that it is indeed true and is indeed in the works."

It's one thing to be suckered by studio PR, but in what reality has the word of a producer or director talking up their next greatest gig ever been evidence of something meaningful in Hollywood? How long did Chris Carter and company have the next X-Files movie "in the works" upon promises that production would start "any day now", only to leave us with a decade of disappointing false starts? Another Jurassic Park franchise sequel was supposedly months if not weeks from launching at several points this year and last, so this is pretty much status quo for Hollywood.

"I'm working with Bob and it's going to be great" is what passes for confirmation these days. Not signed contracts or studio meetings, just the word of one or two people is all it takes for bloggers to start foaming at the mouth with their exclusive breaks.

Proof enough comes from this new chain-letter rumor mill purge. Although it may very well be true that Zack Miller is working on another graphic novel of the same era, that's evidence of nothing. Miller presumably owns the rights to his comics and doesn't need studio approval to move forward, nor is it evidence of studio interest since there's no guarantee that Warner Brothers will even want to make it. To the contrary, if Warner Brothers wanted another movie it's unlikely that they'd wait until a new graphic novel were completed before work on the script began.

It's far more likely that WB would commission Miller to write the script cold, given the huge turnaround time for feature film production as well as scheduling with other projects in development.

This is to say nothing of how abnormal it is for a studio to wait for a foreign property to be completed knowing their script would be based on it without wanting to have a say in the story. While it does happen on occasion, it's exceedingly rare especially in a successful franchise for the original writer to be included in any subsequent projects at all, much less for the studio to wait months if not years for the writer to become available only to lock in material with them having virtually no say.

Obviously I think the more freedom a writer has to craft the story absent studio interference, the better, but wishing it were so doesn't make it so, and reality has a tendency to change the narrative on you.

If anything, if Miller has gone off to work on a new graphic novel by himself with no involvement from WB, I find that far more telling about the studio's lack of interest in a sequel or prequel. I think it screams "not right now", more than anything.

Additionally, it's not even clear if a sequel or prequel is worth the gamble. The story of 300 while not terribly well known to the public was a pretty easy sell and actually was an instance of us being overly familiar with fictional depictions of real life events and the themes that drive them. A small group of soldiers fighting off an army of hundreds of thousands -- ignoring for the moment that the 300 soldiers from Sparta were not alone in that battle and that they ultimately lost -- is a classic underdog story that everyone can understand.

Not every battle and war of the that era can be so easily fit in a Hollywood box, and we should consider whether or not the appeal of 300 had more to do with the easily approachable theme than it did with Frank Miller and Zack Snyder's film making skills. Not to take anything away from those guys or what they accomplished, but a movie's success is not so easily attributed to pure creative genius and execution. Other factors can make a big difference and really can take a doable project from one year and make it completely pointless in the next.

Consequently, we don't really know if there's an audience out there for a sequel or prequel. Warner Brothers undoubtedly understands this which is probably why a sequel wasn't greenlit a week after 300 had opened, which tends to happen with big hits.

Frank Miller's own Sin City is a wonderful example of what I'm talking about here. The movie didn't do anywhere near as well as 300 did, but there's been constant talk of a sequel pretty much ever since the original came out three years ago. Not only has nothing substantive happened on the sequel despite ample rumors of progress, things have actually moved backwards to the point where nobody knows if a sequel will ever be made.

Maybe a 300 sequel or prequel will happen and maybe it won't. I guarantee you that there's nothing worth betting on until somebody signs a contract.

You don't start with the comic first, then write the script, then shoot the movie.

It doesn't work that way.
in Film


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