Disney is moving ahead with a sequel to its 2014 hit Maleficent, it was revealed last night, with news that Linda Woolverton has been tapped to pen the script for a follow-up. The current plan is for Angelina Jolie to reprise as the Sleeping Beauty character, and she’s being kept in the loop with regard to the project.
Setting up Maleficent as a franchise, the stand-alone nature of the film aside, makes financial sense for Disney. Though it was an expensive venture with a reported budget of $180 million, the pic grossed almost $760 million worldwide.
Back in 2014, Jolie teased reporters in China with the idea that she could return as the winged titular character, but plot details remain as elusive now as they did then. The first movie told the origin story for a notorious fairy tale villain, so it’s unclear what additional ground there is for Maleficent 2 to cover.
If anyone can figure it out, though, it’s Woolverton, who scripted the first installment. She’s a legendary Disney scribe who wrote two of the studio’s most coveted animated features: Best Picture nominee Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. More recently, she scribed Tim Burton’s revisionist Alice in Wonderland and signed on to pen the screenplay for follow-up Alice Through the Looking Glass.
Still, it’s not a done deal for Jolie to return, and no matter how good the story is, it’s hard to imagine a Maleficent sequel working without her donning the iconic horns. The actress similarly developed without starring in sequels to Wanted and Salt, but seeing as neither of those projects has gotten too far yet, it’s too early to say whether her stepping back will prove a fatal blow.
Joe Roth is returning to produce Maleficent 2, but no word yet on whether Disney wants Robert Stromberg, an Oscar-winning production designer who made his helming debut on the first film, back behind the camera.