A year after Robert Downey Jr. first played Tony Stark in Iron Man, he went on to play another iconic character: Sherlock Holmes. The actor played the famous detective once again in 2011, and will finally be reprising the role ten years later. A third film in the franchise, which will also see the return of Jude Law as Dr. John Watson, is expected for a Christmas release in 2021. Until then, Downey Jr. is on a mission. According to the Los Angeles Times, the actor is teaming up with the UCLA Film and Television Archive and Baker Street Irregulars with the hopes of finding long-lost silent films about Sherlock Holmes.
Downey Jr. will be serving as honorary chair of "Searching for Sherlock: The Game's Afoot." UCLA Film & Television Archive director, Jan-Christopher Horak, explained the project to the Los Angeles Times:
"Sherlock Holmes is really an international phenomenon," he explained. "We decided that it would really be worthwhile to, first of all, do a research project and find out how many of these Sherlock Holmes films survived and in what condition, and what we at UCLA Film and TV archive could then do to preserve some of them."
Due to "eroded prints, mislabeling, fires, and other causes," Horak estimates that moe than 80% of American silent films were lost. That means it's hard to gauge just how many missing Sherlock Holmes films are out there.
"It's not like there's a list anywhere," Horak added. "I'm assuming that the great majority of the films from the silent era, when the most were actually made, are actually completely lost. But there are films that survived — that we know have survived."
"Like the best Holmes stories, the odds are daunting — but not impossible," the LA Times adds.
You can read more details about the mission here.
Guy Ritchie directed the first two Sherlock Holmes films, hitting theaters in 2009 and 2011, each grossing over $500 million at the box office. However, Ritchie won't be taking the helm of the third installment. Rocketman director Dexter Fletcher has taken over to bring the new movie to life and Chris Brancato is writing the script.
Sherlock Holmes 3 is set to hit theaters on December 21, 2021.