Donnie Darko Director Says He'll Give Up Franchise Control "Over My Cold, Dead Body"

Richard Kelly, the filmmaker behind Donnie Darko and Southland Tales, is working on follow-ups to both. And while Donnie Darko -- a property that has been surrounded by rumors more or less perpetually since the first movie hit in 2001. With a twentieth anniversary this year and Southland Tales hitting Blu-ray in a feature-rich edition that gives fans a glimpse at the Cannes Film Festival cut of the movie, Kelly has been talking with reporters all week about what might be next. For the most part, things have been pretty general, althuogh he did promise us that there's no chance of moving forward on a Darko sequel without him.

The only Donnie Darko follow-up to happen yet, S. Darko, told the story of Donnie's sister Sam. It was a critical and commercial bomb, and Kelly had no direct involvement. He had previously explained that he didn't own the rights, and had little power to assert himself, but it sounds like something might have shifted somewhat in the ten-plus sdyears since.

"I don't know if I'm allowed to talk about anything Donnie Darko related," Kelly told ComicBook. "But it would be over my cold, dead body that I would ever allow anyone to do anything in that world without my overwhelming contribution and control. And I would be very, very, very excited to revisit that world in a very ambitious way."

It isn't yet clear what that "ambitious way" might be. During our conversation, Kelly also alluded to a six-hour epic cut of Southland Tales, which would include new content and be made available on streaming both in two three-hour chunks and as a single, uncut film.

"There's been a significant amount of work done on revisiting Southland Tales," Kelly told us. "I'm actually putting together a polish on what I'm putting together, which is a polish on it, which is using the graphic novel prequels that were published....You'll see in the existing version of Southland Tales is chapters 4-6, so there's basically a prequel companion film that could, if it's made, theoretically continue onward into an expanded version of the existing film with new footage, and the most ideal version it would basically be a six-hour film, split in two, and within each film there's 3 chapters. So it's like a six-chapter story, but it would be presented in two epic movies, like a big double feature, that in an ideal world could exist on a streaming platform of something that is more amenable to these sort of long-form stories. If people want to skip forward to the chapters, they would have that option, but in an ideal world it would be presented as a six-hour project split into two big feature films. There's definitely been an enormous amount of work that I've done taking the graphic novels and expanding them and adapting them into new screenplays, which is the first three chapters and then new material that would be incorporated into the existing film. So that is like the most exciting and ambitious version of what I would love to do with Southland Tales, and obviously there's all sorts of caveats and questions surrounding all that, but it's been very therapeutic for me to do the work and to try and put it together and have it ready for people to look at and to decide whether that's something worth pursuing. I'm very excited by it and I feel like there's definitely a lot more there in this world, that's worth of exploration, and there's a lot of new, surprising things that I think could really make it a much more satisfying experience. It was never really going to be a satisfying story within the parameters of a single feature film; it was just too much to fit into those parameters."

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Kelly recently revealed that there has been considerable work put into a Donnie Darko follow-up, although he stopped short of providing any details on it.

For more on Kelly's upcoming projects, keep your eyes on ComicBook. Are you excited by the prospect of more Donnie Darko or Southland Tales? Sound off in the comments.