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This December marks the 10th anniversary of Tron: Legacy, which allowed audiences to finally experience the wonders of The Grid again nearly three decades after the original Tron came out. Like its predecessor, Legacy was technically dazzling, and needless to say that the sequel had a lot more advanced moviemaking technology to work with than what Tron had in the early 1980s.
Joseph Kosinski was tapped to helm Tron: Legacy, with the sequel serving as his directorial debut. Looking back on that experience, while it was understandably a challenging endeavor, Kosinski is glad that Disney was so accommodating with everything he wanted to do with making the sequel, including using a process that was integral to bringing the original Tron to life. Kosinski explained:
What they did is insane on the first movie with the hand-traced rotoscoping of every frame. It's crazy, but it's what makes Tron look like Tron and all those choices on Legacy were what make Legacy look and feel like it does. I'm glad we did it and I was obviously very lucky to have it. I feel very lucky for it to be my first film. Even though the experience was really challenging and hard, and we shot the whole thing, I think, in like 65 days. Looking back, I just have good memories of the experience and the support of the studio was pretty astonishing for a first-timer. I really got to do everything I wanted to do on that movie. I don't ever take that for granted. That was quite a leap of faith they took and it was great. Those are really good memories of the whole process.
For those who don’t know about rotoscoping, it’s a technique where animators trace over film footage frame by frame to produce realistic action. In the old days of filmmaking, animators used glass panels for tracing, and as one would imagine, this was incredibly time-intensive. Such was the case for Tron, and while computers have made rotoscoping significantly easier over the last several decades, Joseph Kosinski felt it was important that Tron: Legacy make use of the process too.
This was just one of the many things about Tron: Legacy that Joseph Kosinski recollected on while chatting with Comicbook.com. The filmmaker also noted how Legacy was shot using first-generation 3D cameras and the actors wore costumes illuminated with LED strips charged by batteries that would lose power after 8-10 minutes. These elements, and many more, resulted in Legacy being more difficult than your average production, but Kosinski was insistent that the sequel be “ambitious” just like the original was.
Following the disappearance of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), the main Tron: Legacy narrative picked up 20 years later and followed Kevin’s son, Sam (Garrett Hedlund), discovering a message believed to have been sent by his father. Sam is soon after transported into The Grid,where he not only reunited with Kevin and met an algorithm named Quorra, but also clashed with the program Clu, who was trying to make his way into the real world.
While Tron: Legacy earned mixed critical reception, it ended up making over $400 million worldwide off a $170 million budget. The movie also walked away with various accolades, including an Oscar nomination for Best Sound Editing.
Although there were plans to make a Tron: Legacy sequel that would have served as a Quorra character study, Disney chose not to move forward with the project months before it was expected to begin production. Garrett Hedlund attributed Tron 3 being scrapped to Disney’s troubles with Tomorrowland, but Legacy producer Justin Springer said last year that he’s hopeful Tron 3 can still be made, and Joseph Kosinski believes that the franchise will eventually deliver a new cinematic chapter. There was also talk about making a Tron reboot starring Jared Leto, but there hasn’t been any movement on that project either.