'Kick-Ass' Sequel In Jeopardy After Weak Opening?

Comic book movie's future as a franchise is less than certain following $20 million opening weekend.

Despite the lack of an A-list star in the title role or a long-established fanbase, "Kick-Ass" seemed set to clobber the box-office over the weekend and launch the start of a new comic book movie franchise. But instead of fulfilling projections that fell in the $25-30 million range, "Kick-Ass" hadn't quite crossed the $20 million plateau by Monday (April 19), even though it topped the weekend's box office, and now the green light for a sequel seems far from certain.

That's quite a turnaround from weeks and months past, when "Kick-Ass" director Matthew Vaughn and stars Aaron Johnson and Chloe Moretz talked of their plans for a sequel.

"We have an idea for the sequel. We have a lot of options," Vaughn told MTV News at South by Southwest in March, declining to elaborate, since the film hadn't yet come out.

Perhaps that was a wise decision on his part. While Mark Millar, who wrote the "Kick-Ass" comic, has plans to pen a sequel, it's unclear whether that comic will form the basis for a second film.

Johnson, who plays the title character, was looking forward to seeing what Millar has planned and how it might have figured into a sequel film.

"His mind is out there and elaborate, and he's got some fantastic ideas and he's got a huge fanbase," the actor said. "So, it'd be exciting to see what the second comic's going to say, because he's going to bring it out probably summertime next year."

Johnson was pulling for a sequel in which his character, a mild-mannered teen who decides to become a green-suited crime fighter, develops some abilities more in line with his alter ego's name, Kick-Ass. "It'd be great if I could learn how to fight," he said. "If he doesn't, he doesn't. I don't think the character should develop into some superhero. He's forever Dave Lizewski, this kid that's got a lot of heart and he's really sensitive. I don't think you can f--- around with the character so much."

Moretz, meanwhile, had hopes that her Hit-Girl superhero would start riding a purple Ducati outfitted with Gatling guns.

What are the chances that will happen after the first film's middling box office bow? It's not unheard of for a movie that doesn't rake in huge dollars to gain a sequel. Arriving on U.S. soil in 1980, "Mad Max" grossed just $8.6 million, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com, but it launched Mel Gibson's career and led to two more films — the second grossing $36.2 million in 1985. A year earlier, "The Terminator" pulled in just over $4 million — good for the #1 spot but hardly huge numbers at that time — yet it went on to become a franchise. More recent examples like "Final Destination," "Resident Evil" and "The Transporter" show that a first film doesn't have to do gangbuster numbers to spawn further installments.

So what's the fate of "Kick-Ass"? We'll have to wait to see how the movie performs in the coming weeks to have a better idea of its cinematic future. Only then will we know the answer to co-star Mark Strong's stance: "I'm sure it can go on and on if they want it to."

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This article was originally published on 4.19.10 at 11:17 a.m.