Constantine reunion wades into the sequels that were never made
Love for Constantine, the 2005 comic book-inspired movie, remains immortal for those who stan Keanu Reeves as the cynical chain-smoking occult detective. That was evident from the 15th anniversary panel during this week's virtual Comic-Con on Saturday. Director Francis Lawrence, who has since gone on to helm films like The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Red Sparrow, says fans still ask him to sign DVDs of Constantine more so than any of his other work. This love is also why it hurt to hear all the talk about the sequels that never were.
Producer Akiva Goldsman joined Reeves and Lawrence for the online reunion, hosted by Collider, and discussed the many attempts the team made at the time to continue this story. "Oh my God. [It] endlessly came up," Goldsman said of sequel talks. "Boy, we wanted to make... a hard-R sequel. I think we'd probably make it tomorrow. Yes, we tried a lot of different ways to find... it was always to the studios who made it, which were Village Roadshow and Warner Bros. It was always a little bit of a feathered fish."
One of those ideas, Goldsman mentioned, was that Reeves' John Constantine would've met Jesus. That thought came from co-writer Frank Cappello. "[John] wakes up in a cell. He has to identify the prisoner... and it was Jesus," Goldsman said. After all, the first film did have Lucifer (Peter Stormare).
The problem in general, Lawrence said, was that Constantine wasn't "a knock-out success" at the box office. "We definitely talked about sequels more than the studio," the filmmaker remarked. "The movie did fairly well."
Constantine, based on Alan Moore's Hellblazer comics, saw the supernatural demonologist agree to help a policewoman (Rachel Weisz) try to prove that her twin sister's death was not a suicide, propelling them both into a mystery involving a hidden war between angels and demons. The film, which also featured Shia LaBeouf, ended with a post-credit scene that showed what happened to LaBeouf's Chas Kramer. That — which was Goldsman's idea — "was a way of closing that story, opening up other stories should we ever have gotten to do them," according to the producer.
The film's "oddness," which he also elaborated on, didn't help their case to make more movies. "It's equally comfortable in a character scene between Keanu and Rachel as it is with demons flying, hurling themselves at a man who's going to light his fists on fire and expel them. This movie isn't exactly a thing, it's a few things... those seem to get harder and harder to make."
The hard-R sequel seems to be something Lawrence, especially, really wanted to do. He story about dealing with the MPAA will explain why.
"Originally when we all started on this, we thought it was going to be a rated R film," he said. "Warners then dictated that it had to be PG-13 because of what it cost. And we actually got a list of guidelines of what you can do and you can't do in a PG-13 movie, and we followed those rules to a T."
That wasn't enough. "We screened it for the MPAA," he continued, "and I remember hearing that they got about five minutes in and put their notepads down and said we got a hard R for tone. This is not something on the list, but I think it was an overwhelming sense of dread, was what I heard, from the opening scene onward. They didn't think there was anything we could do about it."
Constantine fans were robbed. Reeves fans were robbed. Jesus was robbed.