When Disney’s long-in-the-making franchise revival Tron Legacy hit back in 2010, the reception was mixed and the box-office business was, at best, respectable. However, with the recent news that a third film will begin shooting soon, it does seem clear that the company is not quite done with trying to once again make the Tron franchise "a thing." Now, it is being reported that the two primary stars of that last effort in Olivia Wilde and Garrett Hedlund will be returning for the deadly digital domain for this third film.
According to a scoop by The Hollywood Reporter, the code-crossed would-be lovers of Tron Legacy, Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde, will indeed return for another grinding go in the infamous "Grid." The film, rumored to carry the title, Tron: Ascension, is furthering the spirit of "getting the band back together" by also featuring the directorial return of Tron Legacy’ Joseph Kosinski.
Hedlund will reprise his role as Sam Flynn, arguably the titular "legacy" of the last film as the son of the first movie’s protagonist, Jeff Bridges’ Kevin Flynn. Wilde will once again play Quorra, a program character from the virtual world of the Grid who was a disciple of Sam’s father and eventually escapes the Grid with Sam, becoming a real flesh and blood person. (A concept that takes the Weird Science premise and almost makes it respectable.) With Tron Legacy ending with the setting a clear agenda for Sam to take over his father’s company, serving as a mindful caretaker of his father’s digitally microcosmic research, and for Quorra adjusting to life outside the Grid, there certainly seemed to be intent to continue the storyline, as they would tackle a new, or possibly old threat.
Certainly, this third film has been floating around over a Disney for a few years, delayed for one reason after another. In fact, Garrett Hedlund confirmed his involvement with this film way back at the end of 2012, fulfilling what was likely a multi-film contract signed when he jumped on board Legacy. However, that was a long time ago and circumstances seemed to leave the project in limbo. Now, the report of Olivia Wilde’s return is definitely new to the narrative. With the previous film’s primary duo seemingly locked in, all signals point to the delays that have riddled this project for five years finally abating.
Yet, there are certainly legitimate questions regarding the bankability of the franchise after the heavily-hyped and uber-merchandised 2010 run of Tron Legacy would fall short of its surely-monumental expectations. Domestically, it was lackluster, having made only $172 million on the film’s $170 million budget investment. However, foreign tallies added another $228 to the pot, leaving the film with a $400 million total. Not bad, but certainly not impressive; especially considering the build-up. Seeing as Tron 3 is starting to take shape as a direct follow-up to that film, it begs that question of what Disney expects from this film.
If I had to guess, I’d probably say that Disney will approach this chapter with a significantly reduced budget. Technology has only grown since 2010, likely reducing the costs of these big-budget blue-screen bonanzas. Also, seeing as Jeff Bridges’ Kevin Flynn was presumed to have been killed in the Grid in Legacy, that’s one less substantial celebrity salary that needs to be paid, since the protagonist torch has essentially been passed from Kevin to Sam. (Assuming Disney doesn’t go back to Bridges, hat in hand, asking him to return again.)
Tron 3, possibly titled Tron: Ascension, will reportedly begin filming this fall. No release date has been set.