TRON: Legacy grossed only $400 million on a reported $170 million budget and didn’t sell a lot of toys either, which left plans of a third TRON movie — tentatively titled TRON: Ascension — up in the air. Back in 2011 when we interviewed director Joseph Kosinski, he said TRON 3 would move forward “if we can come up with the right story and a good reason to return.” A year later it was reported Garrett Hedlund was signed to return, and then Olivia Wilde was reportedly attached as of two years ago. Then things progressed quickly after Wilde got involved, with rumors the film would start shooting by late 2015. Queue the whomp whomp horn, because Disney pulled the plug, and now we know why.
TRON: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski attended a screening of the film for Collider, where he explained during a Q&A that TRON 3 isn’t dead, rather it’s in “cryogenic freeze […] waiting for the right time to move forward.” The reason Disney delayed it, he explains, is that they had just bought Marvel and Lucasfilm, at which point the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Star Wars movies became a more urgent priority than TRON. Sure, TRON 3 would probably turn a modest profit, but it would never be Star Wars money.
Kosinski also explained the plot of their TRON 3 script, telling Collider:
“What I’m excited about is the concept, which is an invasion movie from inside the machine coming out as opposed to one we’ve usually seen. So we hinted at that at the end of Legacy with Quorra [Olivia Wilde] coming out, but the idea for Ascension was a movie that was, the first act was in the real world, the second act was in the world of TRON, or multiple worlds of TRON, and the third act was totally in the real world. And I think that really opens up, blows open the concept of TRON in a way that would be thrilling to see on screen. But there’s also a really interesting character study in Quorra and a Stranger in a Strange Land, trying to figure out where she belongs having lived in the real world for a few years, and where does she fit in.”
This jibes with what Olivia Wilde said about the plot back in 2015. As for how Quorra would be able to interact with the real world, Kosinski explains how she’d differ from a character in a superhero movie:
“I don’t see them having superpowers. I don’t see them being able to shoot lasers from their eyes or do what I would consider to be a superhero-type movie. But in her DNA itself, her being the first digital-human hybrid, there’s something in her being that allows objects from inside the Grid to exist in the real world and makes them permanent, so that was the idea.”
Interesting. But you know what’s even more interesting? When Disney shelved the project back in 2015, they were reportedly about to offer a lead role to Jared Leto. Can you imagine it? One of our most actory actors Jared Leto just method acting all over the grid and being the second-creepiest thing next to a CGI young Jeff Bridges. And to a Daft Punk soundtrack, as well. This needs to happen.