C. Robert Cargill June 27, 2010
Guess who won’t die? After its opening weekend grossed $52 million back in February 2007, Ghost Rider — Sony’s anemic experiment in destroying a Marvel superhero by casting Nicolas Cage in the role — sputtered out after negative reviews and bad word of mouth led to a near 60% drop-off the following weekend and an eventual domestic cume of $115 million. Now, after three and a half years of talking about making a sequel, it turns out they weren’t just joking; the 27th highest-grossing superhero film of all time will return to the big screen.
Our question here at Film.com is simply, Why? Because there were so many unanswered questions? Because the license will lapse if they don’t make it fast enough? Did somebody lose a bet? Well, we don’t think these excuses are implausible enough to warrant explaining hiring the brain trust behind Gamer to rewrite and direct a script by the writer of The Unborn and Blade: Trinity. So we came up with some possible excuses of our own.
Nicolas “Not the bees!” Cage hasn’t succeeded in career suicide yet. After a slow, deliberate slide into awfulness, Cage had a hard time getting anything worth a damn. Subsisting off the big Bruckheimer paychecks from the National Treasure films, Cage made low-budget crapfest after low-budget crapfest, including a handful of unnecessary remakes, and climaxed in a jaw-dropping angels-turned-aliens film; it looked like he was over with. And then from out of nowhere — career resurrection! Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant and Cage’s turn as a superhero in Kick-Ass reignited his heat. Now he’s free to stink it up a couple more times before returning to the well to wow us again. This heat might have jumpstarted the process again, hoping to trade on his newfound likability.
A four-color Leaving Las Vegas. In recent interviews with the geek press about why he didn’t do the beloved Iron Man storyline Demon in a Bottle, Jon Favreau famously remarked, “I don’t think we’ll ever do the Leaving Las Vegas version.” Geeks weren’t satisfied. Many asked for a Leaving Las Vegas superhero movie. Guess what? In 2007 Nicolas Cage said of the sequel, “He’s not eating jelly beans anymore; he’s getting drunk.” And who was it that won an Academy Award for playing a drunk in Leaving Las Vegas? Oh yeah. Nicolas Cage.
Ghost Crank 2! Bringing Neveldine and Taylor to the project could bring some high-grade, meth-addled insanity to the film — much like their gritty, fun cult actioners Crank and Crank 2. This might be the direction they’re hoping for now, but it’s probably unlikely as they were not the first directors approached for this project. But as lifeless as the last film was, even if this goes the route of their last film, Gamer, it might at least be interesting this time around.
Get in before the license expires. Marvel is patiently waiting for a number of their licenses to lapse so they can get the rights back and maintain control of their characters. As a result, a number of flagging franchises are seeing reboots, sequels, and prequels to keep the rights in perpetuity. There’s a chance that there might be a ticking clock on this one, and if the producers want to stay in the comic book racket, they need to get this one done.
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