It looks like a Law abiding citizen the cinematic universe could be on the way. More than a decade after Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx starred in the original action thriller, a sequel has been greenlit after a hot streak on Netflix.
While details on the film are scarce, Butler will produce and original screenwriter Kurt Wimmer will write the script, lining up another helping of bloody revenge for the action crowds.
“Law Abiding Citizen” was a surprise hit in 2009
With shades from Charles Bronson’s 1974 hit death wish, Law abiding citizen resonated with adult audiences when it hit theaters in the fall of 2009. The film tells the revenge story of Clyde Shelton (Butler), an engineer who witnesses the grisly murder of his wife and her daughter. Worse still, the prosecutions are botched and the main perpetrator is released after an unacceptable length of time in prison.
Unknowingly, the Assistant District Attorney (Jamie Foxx) has unleashed a highly trained vigilante who is no longer interested in playing by the rules. Like the 70s films that largely created the revenge-fantasy genre, Law abiding citizen takes audiences on a bloody B-movie-style thrill ride.
Although critics mostly tore it to shreds (it has a 25% score on Rotten Tomatoes), audiences were much more forgiving of F. Gary Gray’s action flick. In theatres, Law abiding citizen posted strong overall numbers despite being far from a blockbuster. As Forbes points out, its $22 million domestic debut was a decent draw for an R-rated production of $50 million.
Crucially, Law abiding citizen also hung there in the following weeks; it hasn’t had a weekend-over-weekend drop above 41% for more than a month, which is a sign of a very strong audience connection (via Box Office Mojo). Law abiding citizen would end up making $128 million worldwide, enough to make it a hit but not enough to make a sequel a no-brainer.
How a ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ sequel came together
Similar to how VHS rentals changed the game to a cult hit The Shawshank Redemptionthe secondary market has brought the public back to Law abiding citizen. This time, however, it didn’t happen for over a decade. By deadline, Law abiding citizen became one of the most streamed films on Netflix last December, behind only red notice and the unforgivable.
While the first Law abiding citizen may have rode the ponytails of an action thriller Taken, one of the big hits of 2008, the genre has never been so popular. Lone wolf thrillers like John Wick and The equalizer have each launched successful franchises, following in the footsteps of Charles Bronson death wish series and the three slices of Taken.
But sequels that come long after the original don’t exactly guarantee commercial success. Whereas Top Gun: Maverick was a smash hit to kick off the summer, other sequels struggled to find their target audience.
Men in Black: International (2019) and Independence Day: Resurgence both landed below commercial expectations, as did Denis Villeneuve’s beloved Blade Runner: 2049. Viewers encountered tough-guy remakes like Total Recall (also written by Wimmer) and Death Wish with minimal fanfare from audiences.
Key Questions Hover Over ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ Sequel
While it’s too early to know more, producer Lucas Foster isn’t lacking in confidence about what he has in store for action fans. In the Deadline interview, Foster called the premise “even more relevant today” and teased a shockingly impressive marketing strategy, saying, “We’re going to blow your mind…again.” »
Lucas was happy to announce the return of Wimmer, with whom he previously worked on Christian Bale’s 2002 thriller. Balance.
But there are some big question marks that will probably define the version type Law abiding citizen sequel eventually gets. Top of the list: where are Butler and Foxx? While Butler is at least on board as a producer at this point (per Outlook), there’s no mention of Foxx.
The same goes for director Gray, who went on to achieve smash hits Straight outta Compton and The fate of the furious. While nothing has been confirmed yet, it’s easy to assume Foxx and Gray won’t be involved and Butler will likely remain behind the scenes.
However, even without some of the key players, Law abiding citizen is a low-risk proposition for Village Roadshow Pictures and Rivulet Films, the two arms of the production team.
Without Butler and Foxx’s salaries, the sequel could cost far less than the $50 million it took to make the original, even accounting for inflation. With audience enthusiasm and a genre that has a proven track record of successful sequels, Law abiding citizen is a more logical choice for a sequel than it seems.
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