Odds are a third Tron film will get made eventually. That’s just how things work in Hollywood. Ideas get batted around for years, work is done, then stopped, but at a certain point someone runs out of recognizable IP and wonders, “What else do we have laying around?”
Tron: Legacy, directed by Joseph Kosinski, was released in December 2010. It was a medium-sized hit but had enough fans that work almost instantly began on a sequel. Every few months, we’d get bread crumbs about it—then it would go away again. Then, it would come back: as recently as March 2022, potential star Jared Leto has said work is continuing on some version of a third Tron.
Kosinski, of course, went on to make several other films including current box office hit Top Gun Maverick. While doing press for that, he revealed why he thinks the third Tron didn’t happen, and that’s because Disney simply found more dependable, bankable sci-fi franchises. Mainly, Marvel and Star Wars.
“I got so close. I really tried,” Kosinski told Vulture in an excellent, long-form interview. “I got close in 2015, and Disney pulled the plug on it. I hadn’t built anything, but I had the whole movie storyboarded and written. I was really excited because it was inverting the idea: it was all that stuff coming into our world, and it was about the blending of the two. But it was a different Disney by 2015. When I made Tron: Legacy, they didn’t own Marvel; they didn’t own Star Wars. We were the play for fantasy and science fiction. And once you’ve got those other things under your umbrella, it makes sense that you’re going to put your money into a known property and not the weird art student with black fingernails in the corner—that was Tron. And that’s okay.”
Had Tron: Legacy been a mega-hit, surely Disney would have moved ahead anyway. To that point, the fact Kosinski was able to write and storyboard the whole thing shows there was interest. But as Marvel continued to get bigger and bigger, then Star Wars came back, you understand how the sequel to a film that cost almost $200 million but only grossed $400 million becomes less important than the ones that cost around that, and gross billions.
Kosinski doesn’t seem sore about it though. “Had I made Tron: Ascension, I wouldn’t have made Only the Brave, and I wouldn’t have made the movies I made. But remember, the first Tron was not a hit when it came out. It’s a cult classic. And if Tron: Legacy’s becoming the same thing, I couldn’t be more thrilled.”
Especially now that his latest film is such a hit and he’s got another one, Spiderhead, coming to Netflix later this month. For a full timeline of Tron 3's up and down existence, head to this link.
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