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Pacific Rim 3 - Will It Ever Happen?

Guillermo del Toro's "Pacific Rim" is set in a dystopian future where enormous creatures called kaiju emerge from an inter-dimensional portal at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. To combat this threat, giant robot mech suits called Jaegers are built to fight these monstrosities, operated by dual pilots who are neurally linked to the machines. Celebrated for its unique and dazzling visual spectacle and its fantastical, genre-blending story, "Pacific Rim" amassed critical praise while earning itself a diehard fanbase.

In 2018, the film received a sequel, "Pacific Rim Uprising," directed by Steven S. DeKnight. While it was not as well-received as its predecessor, it still manages to capture the essence of del Toro's original film, delivering an action-packed roller coaster ride of epic proportions. Audiences have been eagerly awaiting news of a potential third installment ever since.

But even though rumors have been swirling about a new "Pacific Rim" movie for years, nothing has actually come of them. Still, "Pacific Rim 3" remains ripe with potential to expand the franchise, and fans' hopefulness never flags. Will "Pacific Rim 3" ever happen? And what would it look like if it did? We have all the answers.

Why hasn't Pacific Rim 3 happened yet?

When "Pacific Rim" was due for release in 2013, Hollywood's hopes that it could be the next great franchise were high. After all, the film has all the ingredients of a smashing success: A hot director in Guillermo del Toro — whose 2006 film "Pan's Labyrinth" won multiple Oscars — a superstar leading man in Idris Elba, and a cast of emerging talent including Charlie Day, Charlie Hunnam, and Academy Award nominee Rinko Kikuchi. It also mashes together two wildly popular genres: giant kaiju monsters and super-sized sci-fi robots.

Just barely doubling its budget, "Pacific Rim" underwhelmed at the box office. The sequel took a while to get up and running, as Warner Bros. stepped away from the franchise and Universal Pictures took over the project. Nearly five years after the first movie, "Pacific Rim Uprising" arrived, helmed by Steven S. DeKnight. Whether because of the long wait, because it lacked most of the previous film's stars, or because it just isn't very good, "Pacific Rim Uprising" was a dud at the box office and disappointed fans and critics, who gave it tepid reviews. Moviegoers hoping for a sequel to round out a trilogy have their fingers crossed that they'll still somehow get their wish, but it seems that the box office results of the two previous films just haven't been enough to convince Hollywood to green-light another film in the series.

Why didn't Pacific Rim Uprising succeed?

Ever since "Pacific Rim Uprising" failed to set the box office ablaze, the people behind it have gone looking for answers regarding what went wrong. For starters, director Steven S. DeKnight talked to Collider (via ScreenRant) about how the movie underwent a significant overhaul after some poor test screenings, saying, "When we tested the movie, one of the biggest comments we got was, 'I don't know where I am in the world. I liked the first movie, but I saw it five years ago. I don't really remember it.'" This could suggest that the long wait played a part in losing the audience.

But returning actor Charlie Day thinks there are other reasons "Pacific Rim Uprising" didn't catch on. Asked by The Hollywood Reporter in 2022 if the change in directors was to blame for the film's failure, Day had this to say: "Yes, [Guillermo del Toro is] such a singular vision and talent. Someone else can do someone else, but no one can do him. He's a true auteur, and when you give an auteur a big franchise thing, they're going to do something really interesting with it, which I think he did." While not exactly casting blame on DeKnight, this does add context to poor critical reviews of "Pacific Rim Uprising," which often noted its lack of originality and flair compared to the previous film.

What has the cast and crew said about Pacific Rim 3?

Ahead of the release of "Pacific Rim Uprising," some were already looking ahead to a potential "Pacific Rim 3." Director Steven S. DeKnight was one of them. "When I was developing 'Uprising,' I was jotting down a bunch of ideas and notes about a possible third movie," he told Den of Geek during a press junket. "I typed them all up and sent them to Legendary [Pictures] to say, 'Look, this is where I would take it.' They seemed to like the idea. Hopefully, we'll get a chance to do a third one, if the audience shows up for this one, and hopefully I'll be involved."

Following the film's release, though, doubts began to arise about the prospects of a "Pacific Rim" threequel. Eventually, DeKnight was cornered by Cinema Blend who asked point blank if "Pacific Rim 3" was going to happen. "That is so far above my pay grade," he told them. "I have heard nothing. That is up to the executives and the bean counters." Regardless of how the studio may feel, the director wants it to happen. "I think the franchise deserves to be finished. Whether or not it made enough money, I honestly have no idea. Long ago, I kind of disconnected myself to any kind of box office worry. Things like that are kind of out of my hand. But I certainly hope so. I have heard nothing, but I hope there's [another] installment."

Who would star in Pacific Rim 3?

While Idris Elba and Charlie Hunnam didn't return for "Pacific Rim Uprising," at least one of them could make a comeback if a third film happens. "I love Charlie Hunnam," sequel director Steven S. DeKnight told Fandom. He went on to explain that a scheduling conflict with another project took him away from the franchise for the first follow-up. "I think it broke his heart not to be able to come back now," he remarked. Yet DeKnight has made it clear that there's room for him to return.

"We've left it open," he explained. "I have a great idea for how to fold him back into the next installment if he's available and if the schedules work. So I'm really hoping he comes back because I would love to see Charlie Hunnam up onscreen opposite John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, and Cailee Spaeny." This statement also suggests those three stars could appear in a third film too. Interviews with John Boyega suggest he'd be more than happy to reprise his role as Jake Pentecost, though his more recent comments regarding the "Star Wars" sequel trilogy could suggest he isn't eager for another franchise.

Getting back to Charlie Hunnam, the actor revealed in December 2023 that he would be psyched to battle more monsters ... but there's a catch. Unfortunately for Steven S. DeKnight, it seems Hunnam is more interested in working with the filmmaker behind the first movie. Speaking to Inverse, Hunnam said, ""I would do anything that Guillermo [del Toro] was doing. If Guillermo invites me to do 'Pacific Rim 3,' I'll be there. Or anything else he wants to do."

What would be explored in Pacific Rim 3?

"Pacific Rim Uprising," may not deliver a story as good as the first film's, but it does fill out the world, expand on the mythology, and set up the franchise for a third entry that could completely change the stakes. Notably, it reveals new information on the alien race called the Precursors, the true villains of "Pacific Rim," who are intent on conquering the planet by sending the kaiju to Earth to wreak havoc. 

In "Pacific Rim Uprising," we learn that the Precursors have an ally on Earth who has been serving as an inside man by orchestrating kaiju invasions. When that person is found out and confronted, we get a clear idea of where a "Pacific Rim 3" could go. In a post-credits scene, Jake Pentecost (John Boyega) says they'll need a new battle plan if they're going to defeat the monstrous menace once and for all. This means taking the fight to the kaijus' realm.

Boyega all but confirmed that this is where "Pacific Rim 3" would go. "We'll probably have to go to their world this time," he said of a proposed third movie when speaking with IGN on the verge of the release of the sequel. "We're going to need something different. I mean, Jaegers won't be able to go through there the way we want them to but maybe we'll try and build something else."

Who would direct Pacific Rim 3?

Though we may have a decent idea of which cast members could return to continue the "Pacific Rim" series, there's another question to consider: Who would direct a third installment? While " Pacific Rim Uprising" helmer Steven S. DeKnight has spoken often about his hopes for a third film, some of his comments cast doubt on the idea of him returning to direct it. In 2018, he spoke with Cinema Blend, and was asked if there would be another movie. His response implies it could happen ... without him at the helm. 

"I hope, with or without me — because my schedule is starting to get a little complicated — that there's a third installment because I would love to see it," the director remarked. This suggests he may not return, even if there is another film. If he doesn't come back, the potential then arises for series creator Guillermo del Toro to return to the director's chair. Unfortunately, we're not sure he's all that keen on coming back himself. In 2021, del Toro chatted with fans of "Pacific Rim" on Twitter, and said that while he wants to see another film, it's as a fan. "NO plans to return," he emphasized. This leaves the possibility of another new director open, should "Pacific Rim 3" ever happen.

Someone like Vincenzo Natali could be a possibility, were such a film to exist. The "Cube" director has collaborated with del Toro before, having directed several episodes of his TV series "Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities" and "The Strain."

What about Guillermo del Toro's abandoned sequel?

If "Pacific Rim 3" ever comes together, what will it be about? We know where "Pacific Rim Uprising" sets it up to go, and we know where star John Boyega wants to take it. A sequel is primed to take Jaegers and their human pilots through the breach and into the enemy's domain, where they would fight on an entirely new battlefield. But Guillermo del Toro had plans for a very different "Pacific Rim" sequel in the works at one point, and there's always the possibility that his original ideas could be repurposed for a third film.

In a 2021 interview with The Wrap, del Toro talked about his discarded story and the secrets it would have revealed about the wider "Pacific Rim" universe. "The villain was this tech guy that had invented basically sort of the internet 2.0. And then they realized that all his patents came to him one morning," del Toro explained. "And so little by little, they started putting together this and they said, 'Oh, he got them from the precursors.' The guys that control the kaiju."  

Beyond a revelation of how this technology came to be, del Toro's idea would throw a major twist into the mix. "Then we found out that the precursors are us thousands of years in the future," del Toro continued. "They're trying to terraform, trying to re-harvest the earth to survive. Wow. And that we were in exo-bio-suits that looked alien, but they were not. We were inside. And it was a really interesting paradox."

Could Pacific Rim 3 spark a cinematic universe?

The filmmakers and studio behind "Pacific Rim" had bigger aspirations than just a series of movies, way back when. Talking to Nerdist in 2017, sequel director Steven S. DeKnight said that in addition to discussion of a third film, conversations were also taking place regarding ways to turn the franchise into a full-fledged cinematic universe, complete with spin-offs, TV shows, and more.

"The plan was always to use this movie as a launching pad," DeKnight told Nerdist (via MovieWeb) while "Pacific Rim Uprising" was still in production. "If enough people show up to this, we've already talked about the plot of the third movie, and how the end of the third movie would expand the universe to a 'Star Wars'/'Star Trek' style [franchise] where you can go in many, many different directions." 

DeKnight went on to talk about ideas on the drawing board. "You can go main canon, you can go spin-offs, you can go one-offs. Yeah, that's the plan. And I would love to see an animated TV show based on this." Had "Pacific Rim Uprising" been a hit, we could have found ourselves swimming in "Pacific Rim" projects. But due to its lackluster response, it all just wound up becoming one in a long line of failed cinematic universes.

There have been sequels ... just not at the movies

The "Pacific Rim" cinematic universe was scrapped before it even began; audiences never got "Pacific Rim 3," let alone any broader spin-offs. But that doesn't mean that fans have been without new stories in this world. Moreover, the animated series Steven S. DeKnight alluded to did make its way to the small screen. "Pacific Rim: The Black" debuted as a Netflix original anime in 2021, produced jointly by Legendary Television and Japanese animation studio Polygon Pictures. Mostly ignoring "Pacific Rim Uprising," this series follows up on the first movie. It introduces Taylor and Hayley Travis, a brother and sister who discover an abandoned Jaeger and use it to battle kaiju and further their mission to find their lost parents. The show spans two seasons, coming to a close in 2022. 

"Pacific Rim: The Black" isn't the only new "Pacific Rim" story to see release after " Pacific Rim Uprising." Legendary Comics has published "Pacific Rim" comics including "Pacific Rim: Amara" and "Pacific Rim: Aftermath." These build upon the events of the first movie, while "Pacific Rim: Blackout" continues the adventures of the anime series. It focuses on Herc Hanson, a Jaeger pilot from the films played by Max Martini.

Could Pacific Rim join the MonsterVerse?

Both Guillermo del Toro and Steven S. DeKnight have had ideas of where to take the "Pacific Rim" franchise. DeKnight even thought it could explode into its own cinematic universe and venture into a different dimension in its third installment. But another idea exists, which would have pushed the "Pacific Rim" series into another existing cinematic universe. DeKnight revealed this explosive possibility in a 2021 Twitter exchange with a fan.

Asked if he had any interest in trying to tie "Pacific Rim" into the upcoming "Godzilla" and "Kong" cinematic universe, DeKnight responded in the affirmative. "That was actually my long term plan," he tweeted. "[Pacific Rim 3"] was structured to end in a way that married the two universes." If he'd had his way, not only could we have seen a "Godzilla vs. Kong" movie in 2021, but possibly another movie pitting the Jaegers against the two iconic movie monsters. Was this really a possibility, or was it just idle talk? According to DeKnight, it was on the table for him, though not set in stone. "My plan does not mean that's what would have happened," he clarified. "It was just an idea."

Had "Pacific Rim Uprising" been a hit, incorporating the series into the MonsterVerse would have had at least one big, influential supporter: Guillermo del Toro. "Secretly — maybe — the PAC RIM [sic] Universe co-exists in the LEGENDARY Kaijuverse and, perhaps, one day they can rumble!" del Toro remarked on Twitter.

How Pacific Rim 3 might still happen

During a press junket for "Pacific Rim Uprising," Steven S. DeKnight spoke candidly about his hopes for the future. While the film's failure at the box office made another movie hard to get off the ground, there may still be a route to "Pacific Rim 3," if all the stars can align. The key may be streaming. 

With more streaming services available than ever before, platforms ranging from Netflix to Amazon Prime are looking for ways to set themselves apart. That often means franchises. And while "Pacific Rim" may not have drawn enough fans to the theater, a third movie could bring in a sizable streaming audience. We've already seen a "Pacific Rim" anime series find success on Netflix. It's not too much of a jump to imagine they might also invest in a cinematic sequel, or even a live-action series that continues the story from "Pacific Rim Uprising." 

Similarly, a nascent streaming service looking to compete with the industry's giants could see "Pacific Rim" as a ticket to gaining market share. Now might be the perfect time to strike, if there's any hope left of continuing the franchise.