The Top Gun: Maverick director spoke to Vulture in a new interview about the fate of Tron: Ascension, what would have been the third installment in his Tron franchise, revealing that it nearly came to pass.
“I got so close. I really tried. 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,” he said. “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.”
That vision would ultimately be drowned out, the director says, around 2015 after the Walt Disney Company’s acquisition of two studios with a massive IP catalog and built-in audiences: Marvel Entertainment, which was brought into the fold in 2009 and Lucasfilm, acquired in 2012. The successes of those franchises and titles, Kosinski says, pivoted Disney’s larger focus in the sci-fi genre.
“It was a different Disney by 2015,” Kosinski said. “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.”
While speaking about the decision to have Daft Punk helm the film’s soundtrack, Kosinski went so far as to say that he was surprised even Tron: Legacy got made.
“To pitch to Disney at that time that we were going to make a $150 million movie with a first-time director, a first-time production designer, actors that had never been in a big movie before, and a score by a French electronic duo that did dance music and literally dressed up as robots,” he recalled. “I mean, I just can’t believe they said yes. I don’t think that movie would get made today.”
The Tron: Legacy director concedes that Disney passing on Ascension as a third chapter ultimately meant he could do other projects, but he also points out that his follow-up to the 1982 film may follow a similar path as its predecessors in the pop culture lexicon.
“Remember, the first Tron was not a hit when it came out. It’s a cult classic,” he said. “And if Tron: Legacy’s becoming the same thing, I couldn’t be more thrilled.”