“Sherlock Holmes” played second fiddle to the aliens of “Avatar” at the box office, but the Victorian Age sleuth just beat out another extraterrestrial — director Guy Ritchie has set aside the planned “Lobo” film to clear his schedule for a fast-tracked “Holmes” sequel, according to producer Joel Silver.
“Holmes” has pulled in $389 million in worldwide box office since its Christmas Day release and looks to add to that with overseas releases still pending in Germany, Japan, France and several other markets. The role of the famed literary detective also just earned Robert Downey Jr. a surprise Golden Globe, suggesting that the actor might still be in play for an Oscar nomination next week.
Silver is a producer of “Holmes” as well as “Lobo,” which would adapt the ultra-violent antihero from the pages of DC Comics. Ritchie, who burst on the scene with “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” in 1998, has his biggest commercial success with “Holmes,” and Warner Bros. wants to parlay that into a franchise as quickly as possible, Silver told me this afternoon.
“I don’t think he’s going to do it now,” Silver said of Ritchie directing “Lobo.” “The studio wants us and Guy to focus on making another ‘Sherlock Holmes.’ So I think we’re going to be doing that. But we’re seeing what happens with this. Everybody is analyzing everything. It’s all kind of happening right now as we talk. ‘Sherlock’ is sitting at just about $400 million in worldwide gross and showing itself to be pretty effective and pretty strong. So we’re trying to see if we can do something quickly with another ‘Sherlock Holmes’ movie. We have some ideas and some good story points.”
Does that mean “Lobo” will be postponed until Ritchie is free, or is the plan to move on with a new director?
“I would guess a dfferent director,” said Silver, who is producing “Lobo” with Akiva Goldsman and Andrew Rona. “It’s all happening at once now. Everybody is talking about everything …. It’s an ongoing conversation. Downey loves the experience of playing Sherlock and would love to play him again, and I’d love to see him play it again. Jude and all of them will be back and it will be great.”
Our sister blog 24 Frames brought you the news earlier this month that Downey had dropped out of Jon Favreau’s “Cowboys and Aliens” and the guess was that move was made for a Baker Street reunion. Now “Holmes” has knocked a second interstellar comic-book story off of its plan.
Silver said “Lobo” remains a viable project. In the 1980s, the character was a wickedly funny parody of the antiheroes Wolverine and Punisher, characters that now have a combined seven film appearances to their credit.
“It was created as a rebuttal to the Marvel characters and his vest said ‘Bite me fanboy,’ ” Silver pointed out. “It was very much a response to Wolverine and Punisher and the other characters and I think now that makes it fresh [for moviegoers]. We’re working on it now and it will be nice to put it together and make it happen.”
And what about that rumor that Brad Pitt (who memorably worked with Ritchie on “Snatch“) would be in the “Holmes” sequel as Professor Moriarty? Silver sounded less than optimistic about that one: “Well, I mean, we talked about that at one point, but you know as of right now we’re not sure what we’re going to do. We’ll see what happens.”
— Geoff Boucher
PHOTOS: Top, Robert Downey Jr. and Guy Ritchie (Dave Allocca / Star Pix). Bottom, Lobo bites his lip (DC Comics).