Industry analysts were surprised when Olympus Has Fallen director Antoine Fuqua walked away from the franchise right as it appeared to be blossoming. The sequel, London Has Fallen, was under way, with Fuqua’s cast – notably leading man Gerard Butler – returning to continue the story. So when London Has Fallen lost its replacement director, we wondered if Fuqua’s telephone has been ringing.
As it turns out, no one has called. We were speaking with Antoine Fuqua about his hit action thriller The Equalizer, which cleaned up at the box office over the weekend. But when I asked him if he’d been approached to swing to the rescue of London Has Fallen now that it is without a director, he told me:
No, man. I turned it down early, early on when I read the first draft of the script. And no, I haven’t spoken to anybody since then at all."
Which is a little wrong-headed, because one of the main reasons why Olympus Has Fallen succeeded was because of the red-blooded, double-fisted approach Antoine Fuqua brought to the violent action scenes. For those who don’t recall, Olympus cast Gerard Butler as a defamed ex-Secret Service agent who let the President (Aaron Eckhart) down one evening. Though he’s out of the line of duty, Butler’s character becomes the only man able to rescue the President when terrorists infiltrate the White House.
With Fuqua at the helm, the action looked like this:
In the year that brought us two "White House in Peril" films, Olympus succeeded in being more memorable that White House Down, and is triggering a sequel… something Roland Emmerich and Channing Tatum’s film can’t claim. Olympus Has Fallen banked $161 million in global receipts, though producers likely assume that the shift in location to the UK for London Has Fallen will help push the sequel to a worldwide market.
The current rumor is that Swedish director Babak Najafi is "in negotiations" to take over the gig of London Has Fallen, replacing Fredrik Bond, who left over reported creative differences. If Najafi takes the gig, it indicates that Millennium wanted a relative newcomer who would work cheap, keeping costs down to maximize profit. It’s a missed opportunity not to at least try to lure Antoine Fuqua back into the fold for a sequel. Given the success of The Equalizer, though, we likely can count on The Equalizer 2 happening, instead.