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It’s been nearly five years since the theatrical premiere of sci-fi thriller Edge of Tomorrow, and almost two years since the announcement of a sequel, but it would appear the gears of that on-again, off-again follow-up are finally turning in earnest again. As numerous outlets reported earlier this month, the Edge of Tomorrow sequel is back in active development at Warner Bros. Here’s everything we know about the long-gestating project so far.
For the unfamiliar: Edge of Tomorrow, released June 6, 2014, was directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith), and written by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth based on Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s 2004 light novel All You Need Is Kill. The Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures film, set in a near-future period in which Earth has come under attack from an unstoppable alien race, stars Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, with supporting performances from Brendan Gleeson and the late Bill Paxton.
Cruise plays Major William Cage, a public relations officer inexperienced in combat, who, upon being thrust into a military assault that amounts to a suicide mission, is killed, only to find himself in a time loop, living and reliving the same brutal battle on repeat. It’s not until Cage teams up with Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski (Blunt) that he begins to hone the skills he’ll need to take down the aliens, dying repeatedly so as to figure out how to survive, each loop teaching the pair a bit more about how to overcome their unearthly enemy.
Despite a hefty $100 million-plus marketing budget, hype was scant in the run-up to the film’s premiere: “Nobody really knows what this film is,” media and entertainment analyst Doug Creutz told Variety in May 2014. “There isn’t a huge amount of action competition and there’s room for a film like this this summer, and yet there’s no buzz.” Critics adored it, but audiences mostly shrugged, leading to a disappointing performance at the domestic box office. The film opened slowly and limped to a $100.2 million domestic gross—If only we could go back in time and tell them what they were missing!—against a $178 million production budget, though it would go on to make $370.5 million worldwide, enough to at least turn a profit.
Many have surmised that the film’s relatively generic title shouldered part of the blame for it falling short of its mega-hit expectations—Liman “fought vehemently” for it to be called Live Die Repeat, but lost, with that phrase becoming the film’s tagline instead. However, Warner Bros. appeared to admit defeat on this front when Edge of Tomorrow hit home video and was rebranded, with its title and tagline flip-flopped.
Understanding all that background is key to making sense of the up-and-down trajectory the Live Die Repeat (we’re calling it that now, confusion be damned) sequel has followed. The first film’s overlooked critical darling status has defined the process of getting a follow-up greenlit: Warner Bros. doesn’t want to make the same mistake twice by mis-marketing a sequel that doesn’t move the financial needle enough to justify its price tag, while Liman, Cruise, Blunt and the rest of the creative team just want to make a narratively worthwhile second chapter. The result thus far has been a series of stops and starts, one we can trace back to 2015.
Speaking to MTV News in July of that year at the Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation premiere, Cruise first divulged that he had an idea for a sequel, though he wouldn’t go into detail. “I pitched it to McQuarrie and Doug. We were there one night and I was like, I’ve got an idea for it,” the star said, with MTV News adding that he was “definitely amped” about the idea—granted, this is Tom Cruise we’re talking about, a man who lives in a constant state of definite amped-itude, but still. “It could be so much fun,” Cruise added. “Gotta get Emily. I was like Emily, please. She was like, ‘give me another year, please.’”
McQuarrie recalled his reaction to Cruise’s sequel pitch in an August interview with Uproxx, characterizing the sequel’s story concept as an offer he couldn’t refuse:
Edge of Tomorrow was so hard and was so draining. When we went out to dinner when we were making Mission and Tom said, “I have an idea for the sequel to Edge, and I said, “I don’t want to fucking hear it. I do not want to know!” And he pitched the idea to me and he finished pitching it, I was like, “Goddammit, why did you do that?”
Asked how realistic executing Cruise’s “kernel of an idea” would be, McQuarrie said, “It all comes down to Warner Bros. and Doug Liman and Emily Blunt saying yes.” He and Uproxx’s Mike Ryan went on to discuss the first film’s marketing struggles (“God help us figuring out what the title of the sequel is. The Edge of the Day After Tomorrow?” McQuarrie joked), an exchange well worth reading for fans of the film (and filmmaker).
McQuarrie sounded far surer of the sequel’s prospects the following December, however: Asked by Collider if Live Die Repeat would ever see a follow-up, the screenwriter said, “We have the idea for the sequel locked and loaded.” Pressed for details by his understandably excited interviewer, McQuarrie added only, “I don’t know what I can say. I can only say it’s a going concern.”
Obviously, that concern kept right on going. The would-be repeat first landed on Paste’s radar in April 2016, when a Deadline report revealed that Race screenwriters Joe Shrapnel—name checks out—and Anna Waterhouse had signed on to write the sequel, with Liman returning to direct, and McQuarrie onboard to produce and help develop the script. Cruise and Blunt, too, were expected to return, because how couldn’t they?
For all the world, this looked like a big, shiny green light.
It wasn’t until October 2016 that any sort of specifics slipped out about the sequel. Asked by IGN whether Edge of Tomorrow 2 was still in the works, Liman replied in the affirmative, teasing, “Yeah, it’s going to revolutionize how people make sequels. It really will. ... You mark my words.” (Consider them marked!) The director expanded on those comments in a conversation with Collider published the very next day, hyping up the film as follows:
[Edge of Tomorrow 2] is the only sequel that I’m considering doing, and it’s because first of all the story is so amazing—much better than the original film, and I loved and loved the original film—and second of all, it’s a sequel that’s a prequel.
The Swingers director went on to add:
I had these intellectual ideas on how you should make a sequel that are unlike how anybody else makes a sequel, and this script and this idea fit perfectly into that idea. So it’s gonna revolutionize how people make sequels. And again that’s why I try to do things [...] that are just, the revolution’s sort of built into the idea.
Cut to one year later.
The following spring brought one of the most substantive updates on the sequel to date in the revelation of its title. Speaking again to Collider in May 2017, Liman spilled the big bean: “It will be called Live Die Repeat and Repeat.” (We can’t help but wonder whether Warner Bros. fought tooth-and-nail—or at all—for Edge of Tomorrow 2. If so, fortunately, Liman won this round.) The director also confirmed that Cruise and Blunt were both onboard to reprise their roles, saying, “Tom [Cruise] is excited about it, and Emily Blunt is excited about it. The big question is just when we’ll do it. But it’s not an if, it’s a when.”
Liman answered several other questions—though still not the big one—later that month on MTV’s Happy Sad Confused podcast. Discussing his approach to the project, the director said Live Die Repeat and Repeat would be “smaller,” with less action sequences (“It’s mostly not on the battlefield”) and “way more focus on Tom’s character and Emily Blunt’s character,” as well as “a third character in the sequel that’s gonna for sure steal the movie.” Liman also noted, “I see this as a two-movie franchise,” revealing that Live Die Repeat and Repeat will see “the completion of the story we set up in the first movie and the relationships between Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt.”
Hope for the film to become something more than words on a page surged in January 2018, when Liman revealed to—who else?—Collider that the film’s scheduling issues had been resolved:
We’re just working on the script … [We’re no longer working on scheduling issues], now it’s down to we have a window where we could go do it, and we’re frantically working on the script. It’s one of those movies that we’ll only go make if we love the script. It’s not one of those things where the studio is pushing us to make it and they don’t really care if it’s good or not. If the movie happens, it will be because Emily Blunt, Tom Cruise and myself are passionate about making it, which is a great place to be. She doesn’t need this movie, he doesn’t need this movie, and I don’t need it. We’re gonna make it if we really believe in it. We have story that the three of us love, so we’re working hard on the script.
Liman added that Live Die Repeat and Repeat then had “the possibility of being [his] next film,” but two months later, in March 2018, that possibility still hadn’t come to fruition: Instead, Liman told you know who that the film’s production timeline still had yet to materialize, revealing that he and Jez Butterworth, who co-wrote Live Die Repeat, were reworking the sequel’s script.
Blunt referred to those rewrites that same month in offering an update on the film to IndieWire, explaining that her starring role in Mary Poppins Returns had come between her and Live Die Repeat and Repeat:
It’s a lot for all the stars to align for everyone to be free at the same time and available to do it at the same time. They asked me to do [it] two months before I started Mary Poppins. Tom was like, “Can you go this autumn?” and I was like, “No, I can’t go, I’m playing Mary Poppins for like a year, dude! I can’t do Edge of Tomorrow.”
Blunt added that she was hopeful the sequel would work out: “Doug Liman has got an awesome idea and he’s excited, and they just need to write it. There has been a script, but now I gather there’s another one in the works.”
McQuarrie chipped in an update of his own while fielding fan questions on Twitter in July 2018, explaining (in a tweet that has since been deleted), “A script is in the works. Should the studio say yes, the question comes down to everyone’s availability.”
That brings us, finally, into 2019, and with reason for optimism: As first reported by Deadline on March 1, screenwriter Matthew Robinson (The Invention Of Lying) recently pitched a take on the sequel and has been tapped to take a run at its script alongside Liman, a prospect that has reportedly inspired “high hopes.” (You’re preaching to the choir, pal.) The report reiterated “the intention” to bring back Liman behind the camera, and Cruise and Blunt in front of it, noting, however, that the stars won’t sign on the dotted line until the film’s script is approved.
Here’s hoping Robinson—whose previous screenwriting credits, including Monster Trucks, admittedly don’t inspire much confidence—can pull this upset victory off, lest we remain trapped in this godforsaken time loop forevermore.
It would be nearly a year before we’d get any kind of update on the project: a Liman Instagram post shared in mid-January 2020. The photo shows Robinson and Alison Winter, an assistant director and producer who worked with Liman on Live Die Repeat, surrounded by blurred-out whiteboards, on which they appear to be breaking the sequel’s story. “How many whiteboards is too many? #LiveDieRepeat2,” Liman’s caption reads.
How many whiteboards is too many? #LiveDieRepeat2
A post shared by Doug Liman; (@dougliman) on
Blunt offered an awfully uninspiring update to IndieWire soon after, telling the outlet in March, “I think there’s an idea, that he says is great. And he says this guy [Robinson] came in and cracked the case. How the stars will all align for us to be able to do it, I don’t know. I hope they do.”
“I absolutely adored it,” Blunt said of making the first film. “It broke my body in half, but I’d be willing to do it again to work with those boys who I love. So let’s see.” She also joked, however, that it might be a long while before the sequel becomes a reality: “Tom and I are going to be 70 before we make another one. It’s going to look a bit weird. We’ll have to do a real flashforward one. We’ll go full Irishman, it’ll be the Irishman version of Edge of Tomorrow.” So don’t hold your breath, we guess.
Keep waking back up at the airstrip that is this post to stay updated on this film we hope so hard will happen.