Universal confirms plans for Bourne and Identity Thief sequels; talks the development of Fifty Shades of Grey and much more

Adam Fogelson, chairman of Universal Pictures, sat down with THR and discussed the studio's various properties and the general direction they're headed. Universal had a banner year for 2012 with THE LORAX ($348 million), TED ($535 million), and LES MISERABLES ($378 million), which certainly pulled attention away from the sinking BATTLESHIP.  Fogelson discussed plans for moving ahead with sequels to various films, including the BOURNE series, SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN, and IDENTITY THIEF, as well as plans for the MUMMY and VAN HELSING reboot and the adaptation of EL James' FIFTY SHADES OF GREY.

Here's the highlights:

On the current state of their franchises as well as how to make "monsters" work:


As a studio, because we have not had a Marvel library, a DC library, a Bond franchise, we've had to home-grow virtually all of it. Universal monsters are probably the thing people most equate with our library. But monsters are not superheroes. Virtually every monster story is by definition a tragic story. We are developing another Mummy. We are looking at rebooting Van Helsing because I think the idea for the Van Helsing story was a great way of solving the question of, "How do you make a blockbuster out of monsters?" I think of what we have done with Fast & Furious [the sixth installment opens in May], of what we did with American Pie this past year -- we had our best year box office-wise and our biggest movie [Battleship] was a whiff, so we did it without a single traditional franchise tentpole movie. Not one.


On the adaptation of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY seeming to be rushed into production:


I certainly understand why some people might take that point of view. But I don't believe that [author EL James] had any interest in going to a studio where rushing it into production was the vision. I don't believe that the second or third film would have benefited from that strategy. And I think that there are totally legitimate questions about what this book is as a movie. I will tell you that it is an absolute priority for us. It's conceivable that we could be ready to release it as early as next summer.




We're actively developing the movie right now with Kristen's character central, as well as the Huntsman role. We think that for a first movie out of the gate to do basically $400 million worldwide, there is a lot of opportunity. I don't think Rupert is pursuing the next Snow White as a directing opportunity.


On Tom Cruise's box-office performance of JACK REACHER vs. the upcoming OBLIVION:


There's virtually no star out there right now in the modern age who doesn't have some movies that perform better and some that perform less well. We think this kind of movie is in Tom's wheelhouse. We made it for an incredibly responsible price [$120 million]. We love the way it's looking. And Tom will do everything that we collectively feel is in the best interest of selling the movie.


On the continuation of the BOURNE franchise:


The point of the last movie was to create a universe, a world and characters that give us a lot of freedom and flexibility in how we go forward. Yeah, the movie didn't perform the way the last one did. It also didn't cost what the last one did. It performed more along the lines of how the first one did. I absolutely see us doing more Bourne, 100 percent yes. Matt has talked about the possibility of coming back, and we totally respect that and are excited if and when he wants to have conversations. But I think the last movie gave us a big bunch of options to pursue a next chapter.



On the troubled production 47 RONIN, starring Keanu Reeves:


Keanu Reeves has been very selective over the years in the sort of big action franchises he has chosen to involve himself in. And when he's done it, he has been, on a global level, incredibly successful. We're excited that this is the one he's chosen for this part of his career and think that every time he comes back to any version of this genre, it has been remarkably consistent.


On an IDENTITY THIEF sequel:


Absolutely a conversation that we're having. We think we created great characters, so we'll discuss how to re-pair Jason [Bateman] and Melissa going forward.


Whew.  That's a lot of info, but certainly interesting.  We hear a lot from filmmakers and actors, but it's rare that you hear what's going on from the "big boss."  Many of his comments were right in line with what we suspected or had heard rumors about, but now we have confirmation on a number of things.  I'm most interested in seeing the VAN HELSING reboot develop (which has Tom Cruise attached)and seeing a BOURNE film with both Renner and Damon.  I'm less enthusiastic about an IDENTITY THIEF and SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN sequel. 

What do you guys think?  Which project/franchise are you most looking forward to seeing from Universal?

Extra Tidbit: 47 Ronin: Instant flop or is there potential for success? What's your guess?



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