Russell Crowe Reveals Why Master and Commander Never Got a Sequel

The Master and Commander star says the sequel never happened partly due to box office.

It's been more than 20 years since Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World opened in theaters, with the Russell Crow starring film bringing to the big screen the adventures of the fictional Captain jack Aubrey during the Napoleonic Wars. However, despite the film being based on Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series of novels of which there are 20 completed and three of them were adapted for the film and despite positive critical response, a sequel for the film never materialized. Now, Crowe is opening up about why the series went no further, chalking it up largely to its overall domestic box office performance.

"Yeah, we talked about it a lot for a little while there and there was a burn on it, but now I hear, and I could be completely wrong, but I hear they're going to start making a TV series," Crowe said while answering questions for GQ. "But yeah, we should've definitely done more than one movie. It's a funny thing though. Master and Commander is sort of, even though it got 10 or so Academy Award nominations and it did very well at the box office globally, it just didn't hit the certain number in America. And at that time, that was a very dominant part of the decision. We kind of missed the boat, so to speak. Our shoot was over and done before they started shooting Pirates of the Caribbean but then our post-production was very complicated and took a long time. So, we came out after Pirates of the Caribbean and just the way things work once people have seen a big boat movie that's a comedy then trying to get them to focus on a big boat period movie."

While Master and Commander was a critical success, it didn't fare quite as well at the box office, grossing around $212 million on a $150 million budget. The film was, however, nominated for 10 Academy Awards and ultimately won two, Best Cinematography and Best Sound Editing. In 2010, seven years after it opened in theaters, Crowe even took to social media and encouraged fans who wanted a sequel to reach out to Fox, writing at the time "If you want a Master and Commander sequel, I suggest you e-mail Tom Rothman at Fox and let him know your thoughts." While no sequel ever materialized, in 2021 it was announced that a prequel film based on the first novel in the series was in development at 20th Century Studios.

Russell Crowe Recently Said He's "Slightly Uncomfortable" With the Idea of Gladiator 2

While a sequel to Master and Commander isn't in the cards, a sequel to another Crowe-starring film, Ridley Scott's 2000 epic Gladiator is. That film will star Paul Mescal as Lucius, who Crowe's Maxiumus Decimus Meridius saved as a child in the first film. Crowe's character died at the end of Gladiator, but for the actor, it's a little uncomfortable that they're making a second film.

"I'm slightly uncomfortable, the fact that they're making another one, you know? Because of course, I'm dead, and I have no say in what gets done," Crowe said. "A couple of things that I've heard, I'm like, 'No, no, no. That's not in the moral journey of that particular character.' But you know, I can't say anything. That's not my place. I'm six feet under. So, we'll see what that is like."

He added, "I reflect back on the age I was when I made that film and all the things that came after it and the doors that particular movie opened for me. So, there's definitely a tinge — and this is just purely being honest — a tinge of melancholy, a tinge of jealousy. Because I remember when I had tendons."