Sicario may look like an indie, gritty, army drama, but it just might be Hollywood's next big franchise. The drama about the drug war along the U.S.-Mexico border from Prisoners director Denis Villeneuve and starring Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro has yet to enjoy a wide release, but Lionsgate has already announced plans for a Sicario sequel, Variety reports. Released on only six screens in its first weekend, Sicario made a record $66,881 per screen this weekend — the highest per screen average opening this year — with a box office gross totaling $401,288, so it's no wonder a sequel is on its way. However, just because a movie is a hit at the box office doesn't mean a follow-up is needed; some films are just better as standalones. That said, Variety reports that the Sicario sequel would focus on Del Toro's character, a South American prosecutor turned assassin/solider who works on a special FBI/CIA task force alongside characters played by Blunt and Brolin.
The proposed sequel is still in its early stages, but Lionsgate has announced that they are working with Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan and director Villeneuve, though it's unclear whether or not the two will return to write and direct the sequel, respectively.
"Before the release of this movie, I was talking to Denis and I said what happened to this character? Where is Benicio going?" Lionsgate co-chair Patrick Wachsberger told Variety when he announced the plans for the sequel.
Sicario is an odd choice to receive the sequel treatment. The movie was a film festival darling — it recently played to rave reviews at Toronto — and is already garnering Oscar buzz for its lead actors and director. Furthermore, the movie was not written as part of a larger narrative arc or cinematic epic — à la Godfather. Even more, Villeneuve is not known for making Hollywood-sequel-worthy movies, but for indies. Said the director in an interview with The U.K.'s The Independent,
"I didn't think I'd do movies in Los Angeles. I never thought it would happen. In fact, it was not a fantasy. For me, I said 'If ever I go there, they will ask me to do Legally Blonde 5. I prefer to make my own movies at home, with not a lot of money and be free to make movies the way I love."
Based on his career so far, Villeneuve's potential move into the world of Hollywood sequels seems risky. However, he insisted to The Independent that his journey into big-budget filmmaking has actually been quite the artistic experience. "I'm very happy, because I really did the movie I wanted to do. If you don't like it, it's my fault. They gave me carte blanche and I did what I want," Villeneuve told the paper.
Getting "carte blanche" is rare in Hollywood, especially when it comes to a potential franchise. Yet even if he gets the same opportunity with the proposed sequel, Villeneuve will first be busy filming the planned Blade Runner sequel starring Harrison Ford. So far, Villeneuve has been nothing but optimistic about partnering with a Hollywood studio to take on a franchise, but with not one frame yet on film, who knows how the director will feel about Hollywood sequels once Blade Runner 2 is complete.