James Cameron Encouraged the Donnie Darko Director to Keep Working on Follow-Up Film

When Donnie Darko first debuted back in 2001, it earned significant buzz at the Sundance Film Festival, but failed to make a major impression on mainstream audiences later that year with its wide release, with its home video release being the driving force behind its growing cult following. Writer/director Richard Kelly recently expressed how he was initially interested in developing a new film in the franchise, but the reaction to 2009's follow-up S. Darko somewhat deterred him from continuing to explore another installment, but that a chance conversation with Avatar director James Cameron saw the iconic filmmaker encouraging Kelly to keep exploring that world.

“I started explaining it all to him and he pointed at me and said, ‘You should keep working on that,’" Kelly recalled of the meeting to The Playlist. “It made me think there was really something big, something epic that could be done.”

He added, “So that’s what I’ve been focusing on.”

The original film explored themes of destiny, fate, and time travel, blending a nostalgic look at the '80s with fantasy, sci-fi, and horror themes. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, the film would prove to be the actor's breakout role, paving the way for him to become a major figure in the industry.

The passionate following of the original film made a new installment seem inevitable, which resulted in S. Darko, following Donnie's younger sister in the wake of the events of the first film. Despite the inherent potential of the concept, Kelly wasn't at all involved in that sequel, with most criticisms of the endeavor being that it mirrored the mood of Donnie Darko but without any of its more powerful themes.

While it's unknown when, or if, we could expect a new film in the franchise to move forward, Kelly recently confirmed it would never happen if he wasn't directly involved.

"I don't know if I'm allowed to talk about anything Donnie Darko related," Kelly confirmed to ComicBook.com. "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."

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Kelly is next working on a film focused on The Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling. Stay tuned for details on the possible future of the Donnie Darko franchise.

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