Smile Sequel in Development as Director Signs First Look Deal

Smile is officially getting a sequel film, as director Parker Finn signs a multi-year first-look deal with Paramount. While details of the deal are still being kept under wraps, it is noted in the trades' reporting that Paramount is looking to have Finn write, produce, and direct projects in the horror genre for the studios. Smile was Finn's directorial debut; the film flew out of obscurity in the summer/fall of 2022 to earn $217 million at the worldwide box office, on a budget of $17M. 

"Smile's breakthrough success is a testament to Parker's unique and fresh filmmaking, and we are thrilled that he will make Paramount his home," Paramount president and CEO Brian Robbins said in a statement.

Paramount's motion picture group co-presidents Michael Ireland and Daria Cercek added in a statement that "Parker knows how to keep people on the edge of their seat and we're happy that we get to keep scaring audiences together."

(Photo: Paramount Pictures)

Smile's box office success was largely built on the back of its marketing – one of the more successful film promotional campaigns seen in years. There are still horror fans and general moviegoers alike buzzing about how the team behind Smile invaded real-life events like Major League Baseball games, planting actors with freaky grins on their faces in key places that ensured stadium Jumbotrons and TV cameras featured them prominently, creeping millions of viewers out in the process. Within months of it having been first announced as a theatrical release (instead of a Paramount+ streaming feature as originally planned), Smile had a front-loaded audience of moviegoers chomping at the bit for opening day. 

That all said,  Smile didn't end up necessarily being the biggest hit of the genre last year. Films like Barbarian didn't earn nearly as much at the box office ($45.5 million) but certainly generated bigger and more sustained buzz. The consensus criticism of Smile seems to boil down to the fact that the "rules" of the film and its demonic entity (that flashes the freaky smiles) were wildly loose and unclear, which made it hard for some viewers to get "scared" by the events that unfolded onscreen – but within that criticism lies new opportunity. 

That's to say: Smile 2 is a sequel that has an easy pathway of growth that it can take. With a bit more clarity about its monster, and a slightly bigger budget for more creative, surreal, Nightmare on Elm Street-style scare-and-kill sequences, Smile 2 could become the rare horror sequel to overshadow the original. 

Smile is available to stream on Paramount+. 

Source: THR