It’s been over six long years since TRON: Legacy hit theaters (see this author’s two-part set visit report HERE and HERE), and the last time we heard anything about a follow-up, it was Walt Disney Pictures pulling the plug on it in May of 2015, shortly after the failure of Tomorrowland. However, Collider just hosted a special IMAX screening of Legacy with director Joseph Kosinski in attendance, and the filmmaker gave away some TRON 3 story ideas he had before the studio took it off the grid.
“The movie was called, ‘TRON: Ascension,’ I think that’s out there,” Kosinski confirmed. “I think we got the script to about 80%. We were in good shape. We were probably eight or nine months out, which is still a good amount of distance from being ready to shoot it, but I think the script was in good shape. What I’m excited about is the concept, which is an invasion movie from inside the machine coming out as opposed to one we’ve usually seen. So we hinted at that at the end of Legacy with Quorra coming out, but the idea for Ascension was a movie that was, the first act was in the real world, the second act was in the world of TRON, or multiple worlds of TRON, and the third act was totally in the real world. And I think that really opens up, blows open the concept of TRON in a way that would be thrilling to see on screen. But there’s also a really interesting character study in Quorra and a ‘Stranger in a Strange Land,’ trying to figure out where she belongs having lived in the real world for a few years, and where does she fit in.”
Kosinski also confirmed the logistical and financial considerations Disney made when it pulled the plug, while still leaving the door open to revive the project.
“I guess I can say that ‘TRON 3’ is in cryogenic freeze,” explained Kosinski. “So, it’s there. It’s not dead. It’s alive, but it’s sitting there, waiting for the right time to move forward. I mean, you have to remember that when we made ‘TRON: Legacy,’ Disney did not own Marvel. Disney did not own Lucasfilm…they own everything now. But this was before they owned everything, so from the studio point of view, they have a certain number of slots and a certain amount of money to make movies and if you can make a Star Wars spinoff or another Marvel movie, which are all doing incredibly well, a TRON movie, even though I think it would do very well, the question is: Would it do as well as one of those? That is more the reason we haven’t seen another TRON is that Disney stock is flushed with really successful properties right now. But that doesn’t mean we won’t see one at one point.”
Both Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde were set to reprise their respective roles as Sam Flynn and Quorra in TRON: Ascension, with TRON: Legacy helmer Joseph Kosinski back at the helm. Original cast member Bruce Boxleitner was also set to come back in his dual role as Alan Bradley/Tron, although he has since soured on the idea. Cillian Murphy was rumored to return in a larger role from his cameo as Edward Dillinger, Jr., while trade reports suggested that Kosinski was keen on casting Academy Award winner Jared Leto in a key role. Jesse Wigutow (It Runs in the Family) was hired to rewrite the initial screenplay by David DiGilio (Eight Below) before the film was halted.
Released in 1982, the original TRON underperformed at the box office, but it nonetheless managed to find an important place in pop culture over the next few decades. The sequel was scripted by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz from a story they developed with Brian Klugman and Lee Sternhal, based in turn on characters created by Bonnie MacBird and original TRON helmer Steven Lisberger. That film’s worldwide box office exceeded $400 million.