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Labyrinth 2: Everything we know so far

Through dangers untold, and hardships unnumbered, Labyrinth audiences have remained steadfast and loyal to this 1986 cult classic featuring David Bowie and a whole host of puppets. This enchanting story about a young girl, Sarah (Jennifer Connelly), who wishes her baby brother away into a magical maze was Jim Henson's last feature film he ever directed before his death in 1990. While it was neither a critical nor financial success upon its release, it enchanted a legion of fans in the three decades since.

Labyrinth ended up having far more going for it than just dance magic. Thanks to its beautiful use of practical effects and detailed puppetry, the film and its iconic soundtrack eventually snowballed into a modern classic beloved to this day. The film has been re-released in cinemas multiple times over the years, and cities around America have singalong screenings and costume parties inspired by the movie. Between 2006 and 2010 a four-part manga sequel Return to Labyrinth was released by American graphic novel publisher Tokyopop. The kids who grew up watching this film from the '80s and onward are now introducing Henson's magical world to their own children. 

Rumors of a sequel to the iconic film have been kicked around for years, to the chagrin of some fans who don't want to tamper with the film's legacy and the delight of others who would love to return to Labyrinth's darkly gorgeous world. With news of a finished script for Labyrinth 2, it looks as if the film is finally happening. Here's what we know so far.

Say your right words: Who's writing and directing Labyrinth 2?

Known for his successful reboot of Evil Dead, the home invasion horror flick Don't Breathe, and as his disastrous attempt at The Girl in the Spider's Web, director Fede Alvarez has teamed up once again with Spider's Web writer Jay Basu to pen a first draft of Labyrinth 2. Talking to MovieWeb in October 2018, Alvarez said, "I never believe the script is actually complete. We do have a first version of it, we have a first version that I think is amazing... We're gonna try to get there because that's one that has such a beloved fanbase, me included in it, that I would never do anything that's far from perfect. Or at least I'm gonna try to aim there. It will take some time because that's not something you rush. It's been enough years that I think no one should rush that one. We're gonna try and get it right."

In the same interview, Alvarez noted that Labyrinth 2 is not a reboot, but a continuation of the story years later that takes place in the same worlds. Alvarez is also tapped to direct the film as well as co-write it.

Shows what you know, don't it: Is Jennifer Connelly back for Labyrinth 2?

While Labyrinth 2 writer and director Fede Alvarez said the working script is a sequel and not a reboot, it's concerning to hear that the original actress who played Sarah, Jennifer Connelly, had no idea that a sequel was in the works at all. In an interview with MovieWeb about her film Alita: Battle Angel in February 2019, Connelly appeared totally blindsided by the news of a Labyrinth 2 script. Needless to say, that should give Labyrinth fans everywhere a great deal of pause. How will this be a sequel without Sarah? Will they simply be rehashing the original Labyrinth plot with a new young woman? Or are Alvarez and his team playing his casting cards close to his chest until he has a final version of the script? 

Based on how unsuccessfully Alvarez handled the second installment of the Lisbeth Salander Millenium Trilogy — both as a director and writer — it's concerning to hear that surviving original cast members aren't yet in the loop about the project. Fingers crossed he finds the right magic spell to use here because if he doesn't, we'll have to sic the Fireys on him in retaliation.

Babes with the power: Henson and Bowie's families unite for Labyrinth 2

Fede Alvarez might be a questionable addition to the Labyrinth 2 production, but this is offset by the fact that Jim Henson's own children and David Bowie's son Duncan Jones have signed on to produce the film. Moon director Jones credits being on set during the filming of the original Labyrinth for his desire to get into filmmaking, so serving as a co-producer in many ways is a full circle for him.

It was after a conversation with Lisa Henson that Alvarez got the go-ahead for the Labyrinth 2 script. "I was actually having lunch yesterday with [producer] Lisa Henson and we reconnected with that project," Alvarez told Consequence of Sound in October 2018. "We're very excited about it. It is basically a direct continuation of the first movie many years later, and I can't tell you much more about it... but we have a script, and we're very excited about it so we'll see where that goes."

Before becoming a filmmaker in his own right, Jim Henson's son Brian worked extensively on the original Labyrinth, primarily as the performer behind Sarah's reluctant ally Hoggle. He's involved in the brewing follow-up as well, as he confirmed to Forbes in April of 2018. Henson also revealed that their production team is adapting the original film as a stage production, hopefully to premiere in London's West End. That, combined with work on Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance for Netflix, has likely kept the company pretty busy.

Should you need us: What's the plot of Labyrinth 2?

Giving new hope that Alvarez is as dedicated to the Labyrinth source material as lifelong fans of the film, the filmmaker revealed to MovieWeb that he too is a Labyrinth stan. "I'm a fan of the original and again, in this case, [a sequel is] something that I haven't done," he said. "But it's a sequel to a classic and a continuation of that story... We had what I thought was this great idea to continue that story and jump so many years later and pick up that story now. We got really excited about that and we started collaborating with the Henson's [sic]." 

He even told Yahoo! News that Labyrinth was one of his inspirations to become a filmmaker himself, which bodes well for Labyrinth 2. He further specified that the original Labyrinth would serve as a backstory to his sequel, allowing the new film to stand on its own. The fact that Alvarez is planning to pick up the story years later could explain why Jennifer Connelly may not be returning as Sarah, and provide an opportunity to continue without the immortal Goblin King's absence, due to David Bowie's death. All we can hope is that Alvarez takes his love of the original film and channels it into a sequel that honors the legend that is the first. 

We're helping hands: Who's releasing Labyrinth 2?

The same production team that brought us the original Labyrinth will be teaming up once again for its sequel, adding even more hope that the new film will honor the legacy of the first. Sony's TriStar, along with Lisa Henson of the Jim Henson Company, will be backing Labyrinth 2 — an excellent show of faith in the project. When Labyrinth was first released in 1986, it bombed at the box office, making less than $13 million on its $25 million budget. But the film has exponentially increased dividends in the decades since through TV broadcasts, various home video releases, and the ever-popular merchandising of characters in the film on everything from t-shirts to pins to posters. A release of a sequel to the popular original would end up boosting all these sales, all while hopefully adding newly iconic characters into the mix. 

Not always what they seem: Swapping writers for Labyrinth 2

When news first broke in 2016 that a sequel to Henson's Labyrinth was in fact going forward, Fede Alvarez was not originally attached to write the screenplay. In fact, it was Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain Marvel screenwriter Nicole Perlman who took the first passes at the Labyrinth 2 screenplay before being replaced by Alvarez. This seems like a strange move — both Guardians and Captain Marvel were not just box office smashes, but they were both critically acclaimed for their clever writing, comedic timing, and tight storytelling. 

Fede Alvarez and Labyrinth 2 partner Jay Basu cannot say the same about their collaboration on The Girl in the Spider's Web, which was panned by audiences and critics alike. It's hard not to feel like Perlman would have been a far better choice for the Labyrinth 2 script, especially based on her massive success these past few years. All we can do is hope that Alvarez and Basu will do the story the kind of justice that we believe Perlman would have. 

It's so stimulating being your hat: Will Labyrinth 2 use puppets?

With Lisa Henson and the Jim Henson Company overseeing Labyrinth 2, it should come as no surprise that the sequel will also rely on puppets and practical special effects rather than CGI. "You know my approach with those things, it's all about making it as real as I can," Fede Alvarez reassured fans (via Yahoo!). "So something like Labyrinth, making it a CG-fest would be the most disgusting thing ever." Now we're talking. 

In fact, many of the original puppets and animatronics from Labyrinth still exist, and over the years have mostly been displayed in puppetry exhibits around the world. Will the Wiseman and his talking hat return to give more useless advice? What about Hoggle and his collection of jewels? Is Sir Didymus still guarding the bridge along with his faithful steed Ambrosius? What's been the fate of our rock-loving friend Ludo? Are the door knockers still bickering? 

Decades may have passed in human years, but in fairy landscapes, time moves differently. Might we see some familiar faces in and around the Castle Beyond the Goblin City? Using puppets for the sequel means that we can hope, and possibly even see our old friends looking just as they did all those years ago. Hoggle and Didymus once promised they'd be around, should we need them. We might, indeed.

Goblin King, wherever you may be: Labyrinth 2 without David Bowie

It's almost impossible to conceive of a Labyrinth sequel without David Bowie (and his enigmatic bulge) as the Goblin King Jareth. His voice, dancing, and beautiful cruelty are the foundation of the story and the main driving force of protagonist Sarah's journey to rescue her brother. Who else would be able to pull off slap-happy pop numbers like "Magic Dance" and "Underground," only to later deliver the haunting and plaintive love songs "Within You" and "As the World Falls Down" with such style and grace? Not many artists have the creative range Bowie boasted for the entirety of his career, including his film performances. 

But after his death in January of 2016, as well as Fede Alvarez's news that Labyrinth 2 will take place many years later, it's clear that Bowie's incarnation of the Goblin King will not make an appearance. Alvarez has also expressed his disgust at reliance on CGI, meaning we likely won't see a Rogue One-style digitized Jareth either.

On a positive note, fairy kingdoms are vast and while we won't see our Jareth the Goblin King, we will surely encounter other fae royalty in Labyrinth 2. Maybe more than one. Perhaps even a Goblin Queen? We can certainly hope.

It's a lot further than you think: What's Labyrinth 2's release date?

While the news that Labyrinth 2 has a screenplay, a director, and a production team certainly shows great strides toward this sequel becoming a reality, the project is still a long way away from theaters. "I can say we are still excited about it but the process moves very slowly and very carefully," Brian Henson explained to Forbes. "We're still excited about the idea of a sequel, we are working on something but nothing that's close enough to say it's about to be in pre-production or anything like that." 

It might be frustrating how slowly this sequel is coming along, but in the long-term it's going to be better that they don't rush the project and get it wrong. Labyrinth fans are divided on the necessity of this sequel, so moving too fast risks a final product that might not do the film's legacy justice. We'll keep you updated as more news on Labyrinth 2 breaks. In the meantime, come inside for a nice cuppa tea and reminisce about the original Labyrinth with the missus.