Now That It’s 2017, What Are the Chances of Legend of Tarzan Sequel?
As 2016 comes to an end, it’s time to do some ruminating on where Legend of Tarzan has landed in the pantheon of 2016 movies, and what this means for the prospect of a sequel. From a pure box office point of view — it ended up with $356M worldwide, just a little bit south of the “2X budget” formula which would have been $360M, and which is arguably the entry point for films to be considered successful. In performing as well as it did, it clearly beat expectations. But is it enough to fuel serious studio consideration of a sequel? My take is that from a Box Office Gross perspective, it’s very much “on the bubble.”
LOT makes the IMDB Top 10 List
Legend of Tarzan surprised a lot of people by making it to the IMDB Top 10 most popular movies of 2016 list, coming in at number 10. What does this mean? First of all, the IMDB list is based on the number of page views on IMDB, so it’s like a Box Office Gross list, only the “currency” is page views.
Legend of Tarzan is number 21 in terms of Box Office Gross for the year, so the difference between its rank there, and its rank on the IMDB list, is interesting. Following is a list of the 10 movie on the IMDB list, with their Domestic Box Office Rank and Global Box Office Rank.
1. Suicide Squad (9,8)
2. Captain America: Civil War (1,1)
3. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (8,6)
4. Deadpool (6,7)
5. X-Men: Apocalypse (15,13)
6. The Jungle Book (5,4)
7. The Magnificent Seven (28,48)
8. Ghostbusters (19,30)
9. Warcraft (63,15)
10. The Legend of Tarzan (21,20)
It would seem that LOT, like Warcraft and Ghostbusters got a boost in page views from strong international interest. This is consistent with what WB was looking for when they made the film — although the actual foreign box office performance was a bit soft.
But it can’t be a bad thing that in a list that is based entirely on clicks from movie fans around the world, LOT came in at a level that warrants respect. I call this a win.
Legend of Tarzan’s Absence From “Biggest Bomb” Lists
Going into the summer, LOT made it almost every “movies that will bomb this summer” list that was published. We all remember that.
So now here we are at the end of the year, and the “Biggest Bombs of 2016” lists are out. I have googled and googled and am pleased to report that Legend of Tarzan does not appear on any that I have found. (If somebody finds it somewhere, let me know.) Here are the lists where it does not appear:
Could This Mean That A Positive Narrative Is Emerging?
I think a case can be made for a narrative emerging that is a) a lot more positive than the pre-release narrative, and b) growing gradually stronger as the film works its way through all the secondary release windows. Nothing in the Blu-ray, Cable, etc is going to materially change the financial performance (all of that is “baked in” to the “2x budget=success” formulation) . . . but respect is growing. As the respect grows, and with the movie on the cusp of having been profitable, it’s not that hard to make a credible financial case for a sequel, especially if cost can be contained just a little bit. A Legend of Tarzan sequel at $150M budget makes good sense — can it be done for that?
Realistically, one thing that could hold back a sequel is that David Yates is on to other successful stuff. He is not getting clobbered by critics for his other work; only for Tarzan. He has said he would support a LOT sequel as a producer, not director, so that’s okay — but the reality is, he’s not likely to be the kind of powerful prime mover proponent for a sequel that is needed if one is to happen. Someone else will have to emerge in that role and if they do, I’m confident Yates will do his part as a producer. But I don’t see him as a prime mover for the sequel. (And I would love for David to prove me wrong about this — I’m just offering what I believe to be realistic assessment.)
Another factor is that Skarsgard is 40, and he has made it clear he’s not in love with having to undergo the physical training that the role demands. He would be at least 42 when filming of a sequel would start. Not a disqualifier, but it works against it
But let’s end on a positive note. Legend of Tarzan wasn’t a bomb and made almost enough at the box office to be considered a solid success ; it made the IMDB Top 10 showing real global appeal, and it’s got loyal fans who aren’t going to give up on it.
So, bottom line, there’s genuine hope and reason for optimism going into 2017.
Yes. This is a great assessment and am really hopi g in a sequel and maybe even a series of films. Of course I’m just being a fanboy !!!!!
This is all good to hear! Thanks for posting this, Michael! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a sequel (hopefully one that’ll happen before the end of the decade?), though I would very much prefer one in which Alexander & Margot return to play Tarzan & Jane. And Happy 2017! 🙂
The primary motivating force for LOT getting made was the late Jerry Weintraub, so it would help to get another high-profile sponsor on board. Alexander Skarsgard was terrific as Tarzan, as was Margot Robbie and you don’t want to play musical chairs with the role like they did with Batman under Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher. Alexander’s age is a factor but recasting must be done carefully. Maybe they can take a page from how they James Bond film-makers recast the role after Roger Moore. Finally, Scott Mendelson at Forbes magazine admitted he had been wrong about LOT and that is a significant step for industry recognition. In any case, Happy New Year!
Yes,it’s true that Alex didn’t like the grueling dietary regime that was necessary to produce that Tarzan body. But he loves something else too and that’ is “a challenge”. So I think he will do a sequel for no other reason than the challenge of it. Besides,he’s contracted to do 2 more Tarzan films if WB decides to do it. I can’t see him backing down from the challenge because of his age. Hugh Kakman is 48 had to work out extensively for his wolfman role in the X- Men movies. He is only now saying he is too old for it. If they offer him enough money he may change his mind.
Interestingly, Variety included The Legend of Tarzan in their list of “The 13 Most Disappointing Movies of 2016”. The film hit the #7 spot. The list is an odd fusion of what the author, Ramin Setoodeh, perceives were box office/creative failures of some kind.
He writes “The loincloth curse continues. Director David Yates couldn’t replicate his “Harry Potter” success with Tarzan, a joyless action movie starring Alexander Skarsgard.”
This is an absolutely ridiculous statement in my opinion. The Legend of Tarzan brought me so much joy as I watched it! 2016 was a terrific year at the movies (at least for me) – and The Legend of Tarzan ended up being my favorite film of the year! It’s a movie that critics should have loved. 2016 proved to me that professional critics, more than ever before, can go take a hike.
I also think critics majorly messed up on Gods of Egypt, London Has Fallen, Jason Bourne, Mechanic Resurrection, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Passengers, and Assassin’s Creed as other examples.
I’m really hoping that we hear something from the trades this year about a Legend of Tarzan sequel moving forward. If Warner Brothers can get the production cost of a sequel down to $125-$150 million, which should be highly possible, they’ll have a new franchise. A sequel should be able to make more money at the box office than 2016’s The Legend of Tarzan because of the positive audience word-of-mouth that was generated! And more people are discovering the film on home video!
For all us Tarzan fans, even if we don’t get a sequel to WB’s The Legend of Tarzan, I believe we can look forward to an epic live-action Tarzan movie from Disney based on their classic animated feature. I think it would have talking CGI animals in the way that Disney’s 2016 version of The Jungle Book does (to spectacular effect). That would be years away, but don’t be surprised if we maybe hear about that in the trades this year! Disney already is moving forward with a Peter Pan movie, despite the 2015 bomb Warner had with “Pan” at the box office. The Legend of Tarzan was no bomb! It’ll be interesting to see if Disney potentially moves more or less quickly on a Tarzan movie based on when/if WB does a sequel to Legend of Tarzan.
Any thoughts on a Disney Tarzan movie Michael?
I would love for there to be a sequel but Alexander Skarsgård would have to be Tarzan. I would not have adored the movie LOT as much as I did without him. The Legend of Tarzan actually made me a huge fan of Skarsgård, I hardly noticed him before that.
Something of interest on Tarzan from a article on Kong Skull Islands opening weekend performance.
“It wasn’t too long ago that Warner Bros. over-indexed on another dusty, expensive Hollywood property during its opening weekend run: the July 4th weekend opener The Legend of Tarzan. It too arrived in theaters with a huge $180M production cost (just $5M shy of Kong: Skull Island‘s). The Village Roadshow co-production was expected to post a low $30M four-day take, but WB pushed it to $46.6M. Critics didn’t love Tarzan as much as Kong: Skull Island, 36% Rotten to 78% Certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Both Kong and Tarzan earned very good CinemaScores (Tarzan an A-, Kong with various demos awarding it A or A-). Tarzan legged out to a 3.2 multiple off its 3-day of $38.5M to $126.6M, and Kong could generate a similar multiple with an end result well north of $150M stateside (Beauty and the Beast will definitely take a bite out of his legs next weekend all around the world). But again, in light of Tarzan‘s budget, it was very hard to get excited about the movie’s overperformance: Film finance sources inform us that Tarzan was definitely below breakeven after all ancillaries despite making $356.7M at the worldwide B.O.”
It appears Tarzan never broke even at the box office and with all the franchises (Fantastic Beast, DC Cinematic Universe and now the Godzilla/King Kong giant monster universe) WB currently has its doubtful they will bother spending money on a sequel to Tarzan when they now have so many other options.
I am not interested in a Disney live action Tarzan movie with taking animals, that’s not the Tarzan of ERB and that Tarzan will be kidified to the point of nausea for me. It will be good for tge kiddies and they will live it as well as anyone who fell in love. with the Disney animated version when they were kids. But I fear such a renditionwill forever anchor Tarzan as a children’s hero who talks your animals.
I love Disney’s 1999 animated Tarzan movie! And yes, it’s portrayal of talking animals is aimed at kids generally speaking, but I would also point out that there is a lot of real-stakes drama between the talking animals and humans. Feel free to not want a Disney live action Tarzan movie, but I want one! And I’m certain that if and when this happens, it will much darker than the animated movie (but probably a bit less dark than 2016’s The Legend of Tarzan).
While this might sound a bit ungrateful, Mr Skarsgard isn’t the only actor in the world capable of playing Tarzan. There has been a long list of actors, some good, and some bad, who have played the character before. There’s no reason to doubt that another can’t be found now. Tarzan is, literally, immortal, as any true Burroughs fan most certainly knows. He’ll be around in one form or another as long as his legend, and those who love it, remain.
And the same thing goes for John Carter.
Love to see them start at the beginning, like 1932 Tarzan the ape man, using the same Tarzan and Jane, 2016,
Yup, me too. That would be the only way to go forward…with a prequel.
I’d love to see a sequel but forget son of Tarzan or at least that’s what I’ve heard. The sequel needs to be a prequel showing more of his survival with the apes, why Jane comes to the Congo, how she and Tarzan meet and the journey they go on that ends up bringing John back to England.