It’s incredibly easy to forget that Tron is owned by Disney, and always has been. The original Tron and its 2010 sequel Tron: Legacy never took off in the way Disney probably would have liked, and its future has been uncertain for a while. But, after spending over a decade in development hell, a third movie may finally be happening.
According to Deadline the movie is currently called "Tron: Ares" and director Joachim Rønning (Pirates of the Caribbean 5) is reportedly in talks to helm the movie. The film has also apparently tapped Jared Leto to star with the current script coming from writer Jesse Wigutow. Deadline says that deals haven’t been finalized, but filming could start as early as this August in Vancouver.
My only major question right now is whether Disney will be able to reunite Daft Punk to compose the soundtrack. Tron Legacy’s soundtrack was, without a doubt, the best part of the movie, to the point where it might as well be an expanded Daft Punk music video. Tron: Ares will only suffer as a result of the duo not being involved.
We don’t know much about Tron: Ares’ plot, though the second movie did end with the revelation that digital people can escape the virtual world into ours. That obviously has huge ramifications, and was something that was intended to be explored in a sequel. And now that sequel seems to be happening at long last.
The history of the Tron franchise is turbulent, to say the least. The original 1982 movie was designed to be Disney’s foray into blockbuster science fiction. While well received, it only made $50 million at the global box office. That wasn't not terrible, but it was below Disney’s expectations at the time.
A cult following later saw Disney greenlight a sequel, which was released in 2010 and cost $170 million to develop. Sadly the movie was received with mixed reviews and only took $400 million at the box office. Not a poor showing, but not really enough to warrant a sequel. Certainly not since Disney had started bringing in MCU-tier money by that point, and would go on to purchase Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise just two years later.
In fact, just last year, Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski confirmed Disney ended up prioritising investments in known properties rather than Tron’s “weird art student with black fingernails in the corner.”
Why have things changed? It’s not entirely clear, though it can’t be a coincidence that the long-awaited Tron Lightcycle Run is set to open at Walt Disney World this April. The hype around the rollercoaster might have convinced Disney that it’s worth giving Tron another shot. Especially if it means the company can sell more merchandise in and out of its theme parks.
Expect to hear more about Tron: Ares over the coming weeks and months. I know I'll certainly be keeping my ears open.