On paper, Real Steel possessed all of the ingredients to be a major success. It had an ingenious high concept that felt like an easy sell to audiences, director Shawn Levy had a proven track record of delivering broad family films that scored decent box office numbers, Hugh Jackman was a bona fide A-list movie star, and the last time Steven Spielberg executive produced a blockbuster about giant robots, Michael Bay’s Transformers made an absolute fortune.
However, despite such a promising combination of factors, the robotic boxing adventure didn’t quite pull in the money that the studio was expecting. Reviews were solid enough, a haul of $299 million against a $110 million budget was hardly a bad return, and it made a further $50 million from home video sales in the United States alone, but talk of a sequel never seemed to gain any real or significant traction.
As well as the obvious financial reasons, Levy admitted in the past that nobody could come to an agreement over the direction of the plot for a potential Real Steel 2, with all of the pitches and storylines being thrown around coming off as a rehash of events we’d already seen. In a world where an alarming amount of big budget movies are happy to settle for mediocrity, though, it felt strange that the failure to crack the script was what saw development stall.
That being said, Real Steel dominated Netflix’s most-watched list for weeks on end after being added to the library last September, to the extent that Levy teased that he’s been having conversations about a follow-up. It remains to be seen if it’ll happen, but a second outing being produced exclusively for Netflix is far from the worst idea in the world.