‘Wanted 2’ moving forward at Universal; will Jolie return?

The long-awaited sequel to the high-octane 2008 action film “Wanted” looks to be moving forward at Universal, with scribe Derek Haas confirming via Twitter that he and partner Michael Brandt (who co-scripted the first installment) have been hired to write the screenplay.

“Michael and I were just hired by Uni to write WANTED 2,” read Haas’ tweet.

The story was originally broken by The Wrap.

“We just always loved the ‘Wanted’ world and loved working with Universal and [director] Timur [Bekmambetov] on the first one, so we’re excited,” Haas told the website, while adding that there is currently no director attached to the sequel. “‘Wanted 2’ is “going to take off after the events of what just happened…Pick up Wesley [James McAvoy’s charater in the original] a few years later and go back in for another round.”

The fact that they’re including Wesley in the storyline would lead one to assume McAvoy is returning to the role.

The first installment, adapted from a comic book miniseries written by Mark Millar, centered on unassuming office worker Wesley Allan Gibson (McAvoy), who discovers he is the descendant of a legendary group of superhuman assassins called The Fraternity. The film grossed nearly $350 million worldwide on a $75 million budget.

While a sequel to star Jolie was set into motion almost immediately following the successful release of the first movie, scribe Chris Morgan (who shared screenwriting credit with Haas and Brandt on the first film) dropped out of the project in early 2009, with writing duties taken over by Evan Spiliotopoulos. Nearly a year later Jolie exited, leaving the future of the sequel in question. Though the project is now revived, it’s assumed the actress’ character Fox won’t factor into the story.

Universal has to be nervous that Jolie isn’t returning, particularly given her role in the first film’s success (she was heavily featured in the studio’s marketing campaign). In my opinion it was a movie largely sold on Ms. Pitt’s sex appeal, so I’m guessing Uni is eyeing the addition of another attention-getting female role that could be filled by an actress of Jolie’s caliber (or at least close to it).

Anyone here looking forward to a “Wanted” sequel? Or does the presumed non-involvement of Jolie turn you off the project?

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