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Everything we know about a possible Bird Box 2

Take Sandra Bullock, a couple of scared kids, and a whole lot of blindfolds, and you've got the makings of a suspenseful streaming success. Netflix's Bird Box nested quickly in the pop culture zeitgeist, spawning everything from internet memes to the infamous #BirdBoxChallenge (though Netflix prefers you not try that one at home). Nonetheless, the time-shifting thriller has taken off, leading fans to ask one question…

"Will there be a Bird Box 2?"

That question is currently being met with a giant shrug emoji. But that doesn't mean there aren't clues about what might happen next with the monster movie. Netflix lately has been aggressive with its content strategy. Could that mean trying to capitalize on a cleverly marketed property that became a sleeper hit? Here's what we do know about any possible new Bird Box feature.

Netflix: No plans yet

Netflix proudly touted Bird Box's immediate success, proclaiming that it had been watched by more than 45 million accounts in the first week — the best opening ever for the streaming service. Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos compared the 20 million streams for The Christmas Chronicles to a $200 million movie opening. The analogy can be debated, but there's little doubt that to more than double that number is considered a staggering success for the platform — and in Hollywood, success usually brings sequels.

Such was the case with Bright, the fantasy buddy-cop comedy starring Will Smith and Joel Edgerton. After a strong (at the time) opening with 11 million reported streams in its first three days, Netflix made the decision to go ahead with a sequel. It's also a movie that had a far larger production budget than Bird Box — $90 million compared to $19.8 million.

For the moment, Netflix has said that there are no plans to make Bird Box 2, but that doesn't mean the idea has been totally ruled out. It's not unheard of for the company to greenlight a sequel to a popular original film. After fans clamored for a follow-up to the teen rom-com To All the Boys I've Loved Before, the company announced a second film. Of course, there's source material for a second To All The Boys… feature — the movie is based in the first book of a trilogy by Jenny Han. That might present a little bit of a problem for a second Bird Box.

No available source material

Bird Box is based on the Josh Malerman novel of the same name, though screenwriter Eric Heisserer and director Susanne Bier did make some changes to suit the film. The most notable change was the ending, which Heisserer purposely altered to make it more hopeful. While the movie's success pushed the novel into the New York Times Top 10 Bestsellers four years after its release, the book ties up its story without any obvious places for it to lead next.

The producers could take a look at another Malerman novel — Black Mad Wheel — for a similar glimpse into a terrifying mystery universe. In that book, a group of musicians is sent to an African desert to determine the source of a sound that's wreaking havoc on the population. Perhaps it could be a cousin to the monsters causing the characters in the original movie to go insane?

Of course, there's no rule saying that there has to be source material to continue a franchise. Game of Thrones has famously surpassed George R.R. Martin's original novels with the author giving the show's producers permission to guide the story how they see fit. Netflix could try a similar arrangement with Malerman. Then again, there's a whole world of "unofficial" sequels floating throughout the streaming universe (Atlantic Rim, anyone?). There's definitely an opening if someone wants to take a swing.

The director hasn't ruled it out

Not long after Bird Box was crowned a success, People asked director Susanne Bier if she'd be interested in doing a sequel. Bier was non-committal, saying "we only just finished it" and encouraging fans to "just enjoy it for now." Yet she was also unsurprisingly happy with the movie's reception, calling it "like a phenomenon." It's easy to see why a movie like Bird Box would attract a talent like Bier.

The award-winning director has a long resume of original films that focus on families in moments of crisis, most notably 2010's Oscar-winning In a Better World. Bird Box features plenty of the same themes, but with a sci-fi twist. Bier also seems to be exploring themes of motherhood: in late 2018, she signed on to direct HBO's limited series The Undoing, in which Nicole Kidman plays a woman left to rebuild a life with her young son after a series of devastating revelations about her husband.

With that kind of work under her belt, there's little surprise that Bier would be attracted to telling the story of Malorie, Boy, and Girl. Bird Box was the director's first attempt at a horror film, and she has no sequels in her filmography. However, if there were a similar storyline that involved a family under harrowing circumstance — surviving monsters certainly would seem to fall into that category — perhaps there might be a way to enlist Bier for another trip down the river.

Missing monsters

Bird Box has drawn comparisons to A Quiet Place as thrillers involving families trying to evade monsters that kill by taking advantage of one of the senses. Unlike A Quiet Place, Bird Box never shows the creatures, but that wasn't necessarily by design. Sandra Bullock admitted that she filmed a scene with one of the creatures, but it was eventually scrapped because the critter looked like "a long fat baby" that made her laugh.

That didn't stop fans from wondering what the monsters looked like, with one fan going so far as to create a toy imagining them. Eventually, images of the discarded horrors appeared on Instagram, confirming Bullock's description. In place of actually seeing a visualization of the monster, we do have the scene in which Gary is sketching a series of terrifying images. If that's how they looked, is there any wonder folks were willing to stab themselves in the neck with a pair of scissors?

But there's really only so long that you can leave the bad guys anonymous while maintaining the suspense of the series. Any sequel would have to give audiences at least a glimpse of what's causing all the horror. Even Book of Shadows gave us a split-second image of the Blair Witch. If the filmmakers decide to stick with the current look, they'll have to figure out a way to make the creatures a lot less giggle-inducing.

Back to the beginning

We know what the Bird Box monsters do to people, but we don't know much beyond that. In the movie, Charlie (played by Lil Rel Howery) had his own theory on what the monsters were, likening them to the demons that live in the mythology of every civilization's spiritual traditions. In real life, the credit for that goes to Heisserer, who came up with the idea because Malerman never gave his baddies a backstory. Instead, the screenwriter dug into various legends and folklore to create an origin story.

It's another way in which Bird Box differs from A Quiet Place. John Krasinski says he created an entire history for his monsters in order to better understand them. Heisserer admitted that he drew some inspiration from the aliens in his 2016 movie Arrival.

That still doesn't fully answer the question of whether Bird Box's monsters are aliens, spirits, or just plain ol' mass hallucinations with bad intentions. Did these creatures arrive on Earth from somewhere else or have they always been here? If so, what woke them up? Charlie suggests in the film that this is the "endgame" without any clue as to what the final straw was for humanity's number to be up. We doubt that this has anything to do with the latest Avengers film — Thanos' population liquidation methods were far less messy.

Final moments

The characters speculate that before you go crazy and commit suicide, you see images of something from your past that's believed to involve a deep sense of loss or intense sadness. Lydia wonders if she sees her dead parents just moments before taking a seat behind the steering wheel of a burning car. Malorie was unsuccessfully tempted by Tom's disembodied voice to take off her blindfold, and we're still wondering what made the tracksuit-wearing woman in the hospital want to start smashing her head into a glass window.

We never find out what the brain-scrambling images are, because few were left alive to talk about it. Those who didn't want to kill themselves after matching the monsters' gaze survived only because of their own pre-existing condition of mental illness. Instead of turning into suicidal maniacs, they became homicidal ones, trying to convince their potential victims that they have to see something "beautiful." It's hard to imagine those people saw the same thing as all of the allegedly sane people who did self-harm. (At press time, we're still attempting to learn which visions of extreme beauty forced a new mother to take a running header out of a second-floor window.)

The mystery has led to speculation about what the victims saw before they died. Cardi B went to Instagram to offer an idea that was as plausible as it was hilarious.

A mysterious impact

Everyone we see commit suicide in the movie is an adult. There is a young mother early in the movie that pleads to leave the house to find her children, but neither she nor the children are seen again. The only young people we meet are Boy and Girl, who ask Tom if there are any more children in the world. Being the beacon of good hope that he is, Tom tells the kids that there are more out there like them. It turns out to be true when Malorie and the kids reach the sanctuary at the end of the movie and see plenty of happy families.

Does this mean that the creatures don't have the same effect on children as they do on adults? The victims are compelled to commit suicide because of supposedly seeing things from their past that dredge up extreme trauma. But how much extreme trauma can small children really have? If the newborn babies were to have seen the monsters, would they have enough memories to want to hurt themselves? Would they even have had the capacity to do self-harm?

As Boy and Girl grew up and started to have more experiences, it's certain that they would eventually be in danger of having their memories used against them. But maybe as kids, they would have been safe enough to try taking a peek outside the boat during that ride down the rapids. 

An unknown immunity?

There are two kinds of people in Bird Box's world — those who kill themselves, and those who try to kill others. But what if there's a third kind of person? What if there are people who can look directly into the faces of the creatures without being affected? In just about every monster movie, there's a group of people who hold the key to defeating the evil. We already know that blind people are unaffected… since they can't see.

We also know that people with mental illness aren't affected in the same way — presumably, because their brains work differently. That suggests that anyone whose mind operates differently might have a different reaction when they see the creatures. Could it mean that various tribal spiritual leaders or shamans might be protected from the horrors that others see?

That theory is strengthened by the idea that the monsters are actually demons that exist in nearly every tradition worldwide. The same people who warned about the evils that might one day take over the world and eliminate humanity might also know of ways to ward off such wicked spirits. If the characters in the Bird Box universe are going to ultimately survive, they'll need help from people who know what they're doing.

Hope for the future

Americans like to think of themselves as a can-do bunch, which could explain how a plucky bunch from Northern California figured out how to evade certain death from an unseen menace. Yet we already know that the blind aren't impacted by the monsters, and the United States doesn't have a monopoly on the unsighted. Nor are we the only place with blindfolds, window coverings, and GPS-installed cars. That suggests there are others worldwide that have figured out some way to stay alive in the face of a mass calamity.

When the movie opens, we learn that the panic has hit Europe and is spreading quickly. What we don't know is whether it began there. We also never see the solutions other people come up with. Since the film has already taken liberties with the source material, it wouldn't be a stretch for the filmmakers to examine the panic from another part of the world to see how diverse groups of people are coping.

If a sequel wanted to stay a little closer to home, a potential storyline could follow the residents of the Janet Tucker School for the Blind. While the students weren't in any danger of being driven to suicide, they almost certainly came into contact with people who were afflicted. How long did it take them to understand what was happening and why they weren't stricken with madness? It would also be interesting to discover how the school became a haven for refugees seeking shelter.

Still among the living?

It was a classic end-of-the-world love story. Boy meets girl. Girl hates boy. Eventually, boy and girl end up (ahem!) getting to know one another atop a washing machine. But the last time we saw Felix and Lucy, they were sneaking into the garage to steal the recently-deceased Greg's car and leaving the rest of the housemates stranded. When asked about it by People, Susanne Bier left the couple's destination up to the imagination, saying "I actually think it's quite exciting that we don't know exactly where they went."

Rosa Salazar, who played Lucy in the movie, has her own idea of what happens next for the duo. She told the Los Angeles Times that she imagines the pair surviving and realizing that leaving the house was the best possible outcome. Salazar described her sequel as "True Romance meets Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," with both characters evading death by experiencing the temporary insanity of drugs and alcohol.

The idea of the two young lovers speeding down the highway like a psychedelic Bonnie and Clyde has some appeal to it. Yet it begs the question of what happens when they run out of gas? Or worse yet… out of drugs? If the filmmakers decide to take the franchise in an edgier direction, they might want to give Salazar a call.

The details of survival

In Josh Malerman's novel, Malorie trains with the kids for about four years before setting out on the river journey to Rick's compound. In the movie, we get just a few seconds of her working with the young ones. We know the trip is a harrowing one that isn't recommended for youngsters. So how exactly does Malorie get Boy and Girl ready to go on what is literally the most important trip of their lives — especially at such a young age?

For that matter, how did Malorie herself learn how to get along all this time? Five years pass from the time the worldwide panic begins until the main crux of the story. During that time, we see that Malorie and Tom have figured out how to live and raise two children from birth. What we don't know are the pitfalls that come with keeping yourself and your kids safe against a killer that you can't see and don't understand.

There's also very little focus on the children themselves. Boy and Girl are mostly used as props in the movie as a way to heighten the tension. Yet they're generally well-behaved and obedient — even for children in a life-or-death situation. If there was a second Bird Box, it would be worth taking some time to examine things from the kids' perspective in what is surely an incredibly unorthodox childhood.

A brand new life

Now that Malorie and the kids — renamed Olympia and Tom — have made it to the safety of the compound, they're all ready to start new lives. Yet we have no clue what those lives will be like. From all appearances, the people sheltered inside the School for the Blind are leading happy, productive lives, but it's hard to believe that it will be peace and harmony forever. More people are likely to come looking for help. There's also the chance that the deranged will come looking to create chaos. And there are still unseen horrors looking to do damage outside the walls.

Maybe Tom and Olympia could take after another famous school for outcasts — Charles Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters — and begin training the people they live with to survive in the outside world. Better yet, if the people inside could gain knowledge of what the creatures are (does the internet still work?), they could come up with a plan.

Or the youngsters could simply choose to live out their days in tranquility, building relationships with the boys and girls they meet in their new living situation. Maybe they even get married and have children of their own one day. That would be a happy ending for two kids who grew up in an extreme circumstance — even if it might not be the most exciting sequel.