Back in December 2012, months before Pacific Rim was even released, word came through that studio Legendary had already put screenwriter Travis Beacham to work on a sequel. As the film came and went last year to healthy but not spectacular box office, there were few further reports of a follow-up, but director Guillermo del Toro has now confirmed that he is still working on a Pacific Rim 2, this time with Marvel alumnus Zak Penn.
What happened to Beacham? "He was involved in the storyline [but] now I'm writing with Zak because Travis has become a TV mogul," says del Toro (referring to Beacham's work on the developing historical fantasy series Hieroglyph at Fox, and on the sci-fi Ballistic City at AMC). "I'm working very, very hard with Zak," del Toro continues. "We've been working for a few months now in secret. We found a way to twist it around."
In terms of Pacific specifics, del Toro is unsurprisingly unforthcoming, but he does confirm the planned return of Raleigh Becket and Mako Mori (played in Pacific Rim by Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi), and that, contrary to speculation in some quarters, the film will not be a prequel.
"I was never interested in doing that first wave of invasion," del Toro explains. "I’m going for very new, very crazy ideas on the second one, which are very different from the first one. But you will get really great spectacle...”
There is, it should be stressed, no green light yet from the studio: del Toro says, "I don't have the money but I'm proceding as if it's happening."
Legendary's Thomas Tull said recently that he'd only set a sequel in motion if the script was excellent and del Toro was on board to direct once again. There's clearly a degree of caution at suit level - has Godzilla now stolen Pacific Rim's kaiju thunder? - but also an awareness that fan enthusiasm and $400m (and still counting) in worldwide box office are not factors to be ignored.
Del Toro himself, however, is currently working on Crimson Peak with Hunnam and Mia Wasikowska; exec-producing and occasionally directing The Strain, based on his novels; and scheming any number of other projects to direct, write, or produce, including a horror Western, an adaptation of The Secret Garden, and a DC project involving Swamp Thing.
Pacific Rim 2 may take precedence over all that, or it may yet go the way of At The Mountains Of Madness and Hellboy 3. We will, of course, keep you up to date.
Crimson Peak, meanwhile, is out in the UK on October 16 next year.