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Escape Room 2: Tournament Of Champions - What We Know So Far

Major movies that attempt to capitalize on pop culture trends typically fall flat on their faces when they hit theaters, largely because the fad has faded by the time they do. (Look no further than the majority of young-adult-centric dystopian movies from the late 2000s and early 2010s.) But every once in a while, one film manages to arrive at the pinnacle of a cultural hot topic, serving as a sort of boiler-plate cinematic moment with something to offer almost everyone. The white-knuckle 2019 thriller "Escape Room" is the perfect example of this. 

Produced on a reported budget of just $9 million, the film — about a group of strangers trying to survive the deadliest escape room game ever conjured — likely shocked even its own producers in early January 2019, riding the escape room fad to a worldwide gross of more than $150 million, according to Box Office Mojo. That the film did so in spite of a decidedly tepid critical response (it holds 51% critical and audience approval scores on Rotten Tomatoes) only smoothed the path to green-lighting the sequel that was teased in the final moments of "Escape Room." 

True to Hollywood form, "Escape Room 2" was announced barely a month after the original film's release (via Deadline). If you're keen to see the "Escape Room" sequel and need all the details you can find, join us as we share everything we know so far about "Escape Room 2," officially called "Escape Room: Tournament of Champions."

Bringing Escape Room: Tournament of Champions to life

As previously mentioned, work on "Escape Room 2" began in February 2019, just a month after the first flick opened in theaters. Deadline reported that studio Sony Pictures Releasing had tapped director Adam Robitel and his creative colleagues, screenwriter Bragi F. Schut and producer Neal H. Moritz, to get to work on "Escape Room 2," tentatively set for release on April 17, 2020. Sony executives were evidently blown away by the film's success, and the move to greenlight a sequel so soon after the first movie and without the backing of critical acclaim behind it seemed to be largely financially motivated. (Hey, it's not every day that a movie made for less than $10 million makes more than 11 times that amount at the box office.)

Two months went by before anyone heard much else about the impending "Escape Room" movie. Then, in April 2019, Robitel sat down for an exclusive interview with Bloody Disgusting and told the outlet that he, Schut, and Moritz were "knee deep in developing the sequel" and were "exploring various ideas with how it all plays out." Robitel added, "We're looking at all options right now about what makes sense."

Creative struggles to overcome in making Escape Room: Tournament of Champions

Doing any kind of creative work is no easy feat, and making a movie is especially tricky, even if you've been in the game for a while. Perhaps the most difficult type of film to create is a sequel: You're essentially trying to simultaneously recreate the magic of the movie that came before it (which you may or may not have had a hand in crafting) and expand on the existing story in a way that not only makes sense but is also entertaining — all while knowing that if the end result is a follow-up that's of even a slightly lower quality than its predecessor, you and everyone who had a hand in the movie could be ripped to shreds. And if that happens, you can say goodbye to the dream of continuing the film series into a full-blown franchise. After all, there is a reason why sequels are largely considered worse than the originals, and why even good sequels can sometimes suffer the same reception.

All that considered, it's not too surprising to hear director Adam Robitel confess that he, Bragi F. Schut, and Neal H. Moritz faced some creative challenges in the early days of development on "Escape Room 2." Robitel explained to Bloody Disgusting that the biggest obstacle to overcome was deciding what type of escape rooms to include in the sequel since the first movie already utilized a lot of different themes. 

"We did fire, gravity, ice, cold, gas so we need to outdo ourselves now. We're in the box. I can't draw and quarter somebody, so what are those visual ticking clocks?" the director stated. "We have some really cool stuff we're developing, and hopefully the audience will think that way too, but it's tougher [than it was with the first film]. We did do the greatest hits in the first movie, so the road gets narrower as it goes on. How do you give the audience what they're expecting from an 'Escape Room' movie but also not the exact same thing that the first movie did? So we're really trying to iron all that out right now."

Who's in the cast of Escape Room 2: Tournament of Champions?

Thankfully, it took only a few months for the minds behind "Escape Room: Tournament of Champions" to sort everything out and settle on a script that they were pleased with. Once they reached that milestone, the next order of business was auditioning and selecting actors to be in the sequel's cast.

There were six players in the original "Escape Room" film – Deborah Ann Woll as Amanda Harper, Taylor Russell as Zoey Davis, Jay Ellis as Jason Walker, Tyler Labine as Mike Nolan, Logan Miller as Ben Miller, and Nik Dodani as Danny Khan — plus the Gamemaster, played Yorick van Wageningen. However, as movies like this go, all six players do not survive the game. In fact, only two of the six members of the group manage to escape, doing so after uncovering a vast corporate conspiracy that involves high-stakes betting on who, if any, of the players might make it out of the game alive. The two who did were Zoey and Ben.

Both of those characters will be back for "Escape Room 2," with Russell and Miller reprising their respective roles. That's not really a shock seeing as though their return is essentially set up in the final moments of "Escape Room."

Since a new game is officially afoot for "Tournament of Champions," new faces will be joining Zoey and Ben. Thomas Cocquerel will play Nathan, "Teen Wolf" alum Holland Roden will portray Rachel, and Indya Moore of "Pose" fame is set for the role of Brianna, while "Orphan" breakout Isabelle Fuhrman and Carlito Olivero round out the game's roster of six players. As for who the actors characters are, well, the title of the sequel sort of spills the beans there: They're all winners of past games, brought back for a championship tournament to determine who's the best of the bunch.

Details on each character beyond Zoey and Ben are scarce for right now, though director Adam Robitel did tell CinemaBlend that each champion has "a little mystery that speaks to the games that they went through" prior to the events of the sequel flick. "What I try to do is set up questions for each of them, like I did in the first movie. We're leaning into, 'Why does this person have a scar?' and 'Why is this guy seemingly reading the last rights to somebody?' There's one character who has ... an anomalous immune system, and so there [are] weird things that happen with pain," he explained. "And so we're setting up all these questions [proving] that they're not your average characters."

What's the release date for Escape Room 2?

Way back when "Escape Room 2" was first announced, Sony Pictures Releasing stamped it with an April 17, 2020 release date. At the time, it seemed like a perfect debut date: There would be enough time between the first and second movies to allow hype to build, and launching it in the spring rather than the summer meant there wouldn't be the risk of massive tentpole productions crushing it at the box office. But, of course, "Escape Room: Tournament of Champions" never did arrive in theaters on that day. 

At first, in June 2019, the film's release was pushed to August 14, 2020, per Exhibitor Relations Co. on Twitter. And then, when that date appeared to be set in stone, 2020 happened and "Escape Room 2" endured the same hellacious experience that every major movie and television production did in the nightmare year that was 2020: It was delayed multiple times. 

As documented by Dread Central, "Escape Room: Tournament of Champions" — which didn't even get its official title until late May 2021 (via Forbes) — moved from August 14, 2020 to December 30, 2020, then got pushed a few days to January 1, 2021, and was then pulled back up to December 30, 2020. In October 2020, the official word was that the sequel was coming sometime in 2021, but no one knew when. Then in late January 2021, Deadline confirmed that Sony moved "Escape Room 2" all the way to January 7, 2022.

Finally, in April 2021, Deadline issued an update to its original report with new information about the release date for "Escape Room: Tournament of Champions." It will officially hit theaters on July 16 — 2021, not 2022. Viewers in Australia can see the film even earlier, as it opens Down Under on July 1 (via Flicks.com.au).

What's the plot of Escape Room 2: Tournament of Champions?

If you're dying to know what "Escape Room: Tournament of Champions" is about, try not to overthink things, 'cause the title also makes the plot of the sequel pretty clear. In case there was any doubt, though, the trailer for "Tournament of Champions" makes matters even clearer. 

When we last saw Zoey and Ben, they made a pact to confront the masterminds of their deadly game, though the final moments of "Escape Room" teased that said mastermind was already plotting a new, near-impossible to survive game to be played on the duo's flight to New York. It seems Zoey and Ben either survived or dodged that game en route to New York. They still get ensnared in a new game, though, and this one opens on a subway car with a handful of strangers. As alluded to in the film's title, those strangers are all survivors of past games. 

According to returning director Adam Robitel, "Escape Room 2" will reveal to its characters and its audience that "on any given day, there are multiple games happening all around the world" (via CinemaBlend). He also noted that the sequel movie is "sort of a meditation on trauma, and how people deal with trauma," as well as what the champions have learned "through their first trial by fire."

While "Escape Room 2" doesn't appear to be venturing too far from the first film's formula, from the look of things, Robitel has really outdone himself in terms of both game and production design. The sequel will presumably have its shares of shocking twists and reveals too. As for who's going make it out of the new game unscathed, your guess is as good as ours. With "Escape Room: Tournament of Champions" hitting theaters in mere weeks, we'll find out soon enough.

Will Escape Room 2: Tournament of Champions be available to stream?

If you can't make it to the theater when "Escape Room: Tournament of Champions" debuts on July 16, you may be wondering whether the film will have a simultaneous streaming release like many other movies have this year. The answer is, sadly, pretty disappointing: "Escape Room 2" isn't going to streaming any time soon. 

Adam Robitel explained the decision when speaking with CinemaBlend in May 2021. In the director's opinion, horror movies should be seen in theaters, where it's dark, cool, quiet, and free from outside distractions — the perfect environment to be scared out of your mind. "The Latin root of the word horror means 'to bristle on the back of the neck.' It's the one genre that has a physical and physiological influence over the audience. It's manipulating them. People love to be afraid in groups. They love to go on dates, to scream and grab their popcorn," said Robitel. 

"Escape Room: Tournament of Champions" will likely be available to watch from the comfort of your own home sometime in the future, but for now, you'll just have to head to the cinema starting on July 16 to see it.