Well, well… Disney has officially given the green light to a sequel to Maleficent, the live-action reimagining of Sleeping Beauty that opened to mixed reviews but was a hit at the box office in May 2014, grossing more than $750 million worldwide on a $180 million budget. The sequel has been in development at Disney for several years now, and from what we know, Angelina Jolie’s blessing has been the deciding factor in the film moving forward.
The Maleficent 2 script was initially written by Linda Woolverton, who also wrote Maleficent and Alice in Wonderland. It’s now being rewritten, however, by Jez Butterworth, whose work includes Spectre and Black Mass. It’s possible that Disney ordered a rewrite because the studio wasn’t too confident in Woolverton after her most recent film, Alice Through the Looking Glass, crashed and burned last year. It isn’t clear how much of Woolverton’s draft will be retained, but personally, I can’t blame Disney for having someone else take a stab at writing Maleficent 2 before it goes in front of the camera.
According to Deadline, Maleficent 2 will begin shooting early next year, which would make it a likely candidate for release in 2020 or 2021, which would be six or seven years after the first film was released. (Disney currently has April 3, 2020 and March 12, 2021 staked out for untitled live-action films, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see it fall onto one of those dates.) The studio hopes that Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales co-director Joachim Rønning will set sail for the House of Mouse once again and deliver a sequel to another one of its key live-action properties. Pirates 5 wasn’t exactly a hit with critics, but it did bring in nearly $800 million worldwide, so you could say that Rønning a somewhat safe choice to helm Maleficent 2.
Personally, I’m not sure how to feel about Maleficent 2. While I thoroughly enjoyed Maleficent and Alice in Wonderland, I was massively disappointed with Alice Through the Looking Glass, so much so that I don’t think I could stand to watch the first Alice film ever again. It’s encouraging to know that Linda Woolverton’s script is being rewritten (or, at the very least, being fixed up) by a writer with a solid track record, but I sincerely hope that I won’t come out of seeing Maleficent 2 as disappointed as I was after watching Alice Through the Looking Glass (and The Huntsman: Winter’s War, which shares a producer with Alice and Maleficent in Joe Roth, who is also overseeing Maleficent 2 for Disney).
I’m looking forward to seeing what a sequel to Maleficent has to offer, but I’ll be approaching this one with a good deal of caution, at least until I see a trailer — although visions are seldom all they seem.