Why the Hell is 'TRON 3' Shooting this Fall?

Wednesday, 11 March 2015 08:32 Written by  Jordan DeSaulnier
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Why the Hell is 'TRON 3' Shooting this Fall?

Years after fans gave up hope, TRON 3 is actually happening.

Production on the digi-sequel is set to kick off in Vancouver this summer, with Joseph Kosinski returning as director and Garrett Hedlund, at least, reprising his starring role as Sam Flynn.

So the follow-up Disney was clearly planning when it hyped the heck out out TRON: Legacy five years ago is making the jump from the Grid to the real world.  But we cannot figure out why.

1982's TRON was a huge technical achievement, but a narrative and commercial whiff.  2010's TRON: Legacy boasted an impressive visual presentation but a limp story that largely consisted of finding conveyance from one neon location to the next.  Kosinski's first movie, Legacy holds the record for the highest-grossing feature directorial debut thanks to its $400 million global total.  That record is less impressive, however, considering that the sequel's reported production budget was $170 million, probably a lowball figure.  A movie that costly has to make a whole lot of money to be profitable.

Even with a budget that big, TRON: Legacy appeared to eke out a profit, but Disney was clearly hoping to create a bona-fide phenomenon and invigorate a vital franchise.  The studio went all-out promoting the movie (the cost of which isn't included in the budget) with a huge, long term marketing campaign, a Disneyland attraction, pop-up stores, and merch, merch, merch.

Watching TRON: Legacy, it's obviously meant to be the first in a new series.  To its detriment, in fact, as it establishes ideas that never pay off and leaves characters dangling.  Outside of hardcore fans, however, audiences haven't exactly been demanding a return to the grid.  Disney signaled a chill in its enthusiasm when it opted against making Kosinski's followup, Oblivion, after developing it for months.  That movie ended up at Universal.

About four years ago, scuttlebutt suggested that the reception of the Disney XD series TRON: Uprising (a prequel to Legacy) could lead to another TRON, but one season of the show came and went in 2012.

Yet here we are, with VanCityBuzz reporting the studio has given TRON 3 a green light and principal photography begins this October 5th.  Badass Digest confirms it, adding that Kosinski is indeed on board to direct.

Hedlund, who skewed away from blockbusters and towards indie fare like On the Road and Inside Llewyn Davis in the wake of TRON: Legacy, is the only actor so far verified to return.  The conclusion of the sequel made it pretty clear that Jeff Bridges was unlikely to be back for another ride as the original Flynn, but Olivia Wilde's Quorra seemed indispensable in continuing the story.  Bruce Boxleitner's TRON was also established for a more conventional return.

Casting mysteries remain secondary, though, to the vexing question of just why Disney is returning to this particular well.  After all, since Legacy, the studio bought Lucasfilm, gaining Star Wars, which is already the scifi-fantasy uber-franchise Disney so wanted TRON to become.  And the Marvel movies have blossomed into the biggest thing in the blockbuster game.  By the end of the year when Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits, Mickey Mouse will be rolling around in piles of oh-so important Star Wars and Avengers merchandising money.

So what's the thinking behind TRON 3, a sequel to a so-so blockbuster that never moved as much merch as intended?

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