Months before the second Maze Runner film is due to hit screens, 20th Century Fox has set the third (and likely final) entry, titled Maze Runner: The Death Cure, for February 17th, 2017.
Remarkably, the studio has opted not to split the final novel in James Dashner’s dystopian YA trilogy into two movies and will instead bring the Dylan O’Brien-led thriller franchise to a conclusion after just three movies (YA phenoms Twilight, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter and Divergent all stretched their finales out into two films). It is worth noting that Dashner penned a prequel novel, The Kill Order, and has a follow-up to that called The Fever Code due out next year, so Fox might not be done with the series’ universe after The Death Cure, but that trilogy ender will see a send-off for hero Thomas (O’Brien) and his gang of ‘Gladers.’
For those of you who missed The Maze Runner last fall, the Wes Ball-directed pic kicked off as a teenage boy named Thomas, with no memory of his identity outside of his name, was deposited in a massive maze by a mysterious organization called WCKD. With the help of other teens who have also had their memories wiped clean, Thomas decides to mount an escape from the maze. By the conclusion of that film, he had successfully done so, only to find himself in a sun-scorched, post-apocalyptic landscape – and still in WCKD’s clutches.
Fox moved incredibly fast on sequel Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, which will open in September. Ball is back behind the camera with an expanded cast that now includes Barry Pepper, Lili Taylor, Rosa Salazar, Nathalie Emmanuel, Aidan Gillen, Giancarlo Esposito, Jacob Lofland, Katherine McNamara and more. It’s currently unclear whether The Death Cure‘s new winter slot is because the studio wants to make sure Ball gets a break between films or because execs are searching for a replacement with the understanding that the helmer is not planning to sign up again.
Either way, The Maze Runner was an unexpectedly terrific entry in the overstuffed YA dystopia genre, so it’s great news to hear that Fox is going full steam ahead with the rest of the series. We already know that T.S. Nowlin, who co-scripted the first film and tackled the second on his own, is back at the desk penning Maze Runner: The Death Cure, but we’ll keep you posted as more emerges about the trilogy topper.