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Disney Throws ‘Tron 3’ Movie Project Into The Junk Pile

Disney Throws 'Tron 3' Movie Project Into The Junk Pile

It looks like Tron 3, the sequel to 2010’s Tron: Legacy, is dead at Disney. It wasn’t long ago that fans of the Tron franchise had hope that the movie was going to be shooting this fall in Vancouver, British Columbia with returning director Joseph Kosinski and stars Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde. Apparently, Disney had been investigating adding Jared Leto (currently in Canada shooting Suicide Squad as that film’s Joker) to the cast of their third Tron outing. All that buzz appears to have been for not as The Hollywood Report claims Dinsey is no longer moving forward with Tron 3.

According to the report, the movie was never officially green lit as much as it was simply assumed to be happening. Legacy ended up grossing a little over $400 million worldwide on a rumored $170 million dollar budget, so the possibility of a sequel had always been on the periphery of Disney’s mind. However, it appears that the soft Memorial Day Weekend box office reception of Tomorrowland has Disney backing off any future science fiction films that require a second act exposition dump.

There’s some evidence that during the 1980s, after the original Tron,Disneyland was going to have Tron-themed attractions taking over a good quarter of the Tomorrowland real estate, but when the movie didn’t meet box office expectations and the plans were scrapped. Disney’s treatment of the franchise is an interesting case of a large organization trying to best exploit an existing intellectual property and incorrectly executing what should have been a massive, megafranchise-launching ad campaign for Tron: Legacy.
Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) goes to The Grid in Walt Disney’s ‘Tron Legacy’

Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) goes to The Grid in Walt Disney’s ‘Tron Legacy’

In the late 1990s there were many false rumors that the fan following behind the Disney video game movie Tron was strong enough to warrant a sequel more than a decade after the original. Although the timing of the rumors were off, the fanbase was the motivation behind the sequel’s production green light. In 2005, Disney hired two writers to take a pass at a Tron sequel, but it wasn’t until San Diego Comic-Con 2008 that the company realized that the market for a new Tron movie existed. During Disney’s panel at Comic-Con, they showed a short teaser by a director most known for making commercials for video games that featured a light cycle chase and two versions of Jeff Bridges (one aged representation of his Tron character Kevin Flynn and one digital recreation of his Tron character Clu). The title at the end of the teaser read: “TR2N.”

At the time, the teaser was made to show what an updated Tron movie would look like, as well as to judge audience reaction to the idea of a sequel. The teaser killed at Comic-Con in July and by September it was being shown to Disney shareholders and touted as a green-lit project. By the following year’s Comic-Con, the title had been upgraded to Tron: Legacy and Disney had committed to an earnest attempt to revive the franchise.

The company kicked off a massive ad campaign for the film, leading up to its December 2010 release. Outside of the now expected video game and toy tie-ins, they devoted a corner of their California Adventure park to a nightly neon-themed party area called “ElecTRONica.” That corner of the park would end up being the longest lasting piece of Disney’s new Tron push, opening nightly from October 2010 to April 2012. Legacy also had a tie-in clothing line, a facet of adventure movie marketing Dinsey thought Tron was well suited for.

In what now reads as a precursor to the strategy for Star Wars: Rebels, Disney XD aired 19 episodes of an animated series called Tron: Uprising that followed a character, voiced by Elijah Wood, in the time period between Tron and Tron: Legacy.

Where as Disney is currently using Marvel Comics to fill in more narrative gaps in the Star Wars universe, 2010 was still a time in film marking where Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) were viable, so Tron: Legacy’s ARG ended up giving us our first peek at the now-doomed Tron 3.

The Blu-Ray release of Tron: Legacy included several Easter Egg scenes that covered the ARG campaigns real-life events leading up to the film and even some scenes that took place after the film concluded. The short Tron: The Next Day compiled most of these scenes, including a scene where Roy Kleinberg (Dan Shor), the user of Ram from the original Tron, is confronted by Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) and a scene where Sam Flynn (Garrett Hudlund) shows up at the Encom building wearing a “Flynn Lives” t-shirt. The latter scene was original going to feature Olvia Wilde’s character Quora in the real world telling reporters how she had spoken to Kevin Flynn yesterday, but it was re-edited with the Hedlund footage before release. A third scene hidden on the Blu-Ray is just a text chat with Edward Dillinger Jr (an uncredited cameo by Cillian Murphy in Legacy) and the Master Control program about how Sam Flynn must be controlled, which was setting up the character to be a villain in Tron 3.

Outside of vague hints from director Joseph Kosinski about Tron 3 during the press tours for Tron: Legacy and his follow up film Oblivion, not a lot more was known about the project. Supposedly the concept of what life and death meant on The Grid (Tron’s digital world) would be explored in the sequel, meaning Jeff Bridges could have returned to the franchise. Kosinski also said he wouldn’t be reusing the designs of Tron: Legacy for his new idea, hinting that a third Tron would finally see the digital world in the world of the users.

Tron: Legacy finally lived up to its name by mirroring the fate of the original 1982 film: everyone seemed to like it okay but not love it, it didn’t make as much money as Dinsey expected and it might take almost 20 years to get a sequel. However, Tron fans need not despair because if there’s one company that is least likely to let a viable franchise die, it’s Disney. Just like with Indiana Jones, we need to be in for the long haul.



by David Gonzales

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