Tron 3 Was Shelved by Disney Due to Marvel and Star Wars Focus, According to Director

The computer world of the Grid is unplugged for now. In 2015, it was announced that Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski would reunite with Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde for Tron 3, but the sequel to the 2010 film was never officially greenlighted. Disney didn't move forward with Kosinski's Legacy followup, and by 2020, Deadline reported the studio was developing a third Tron with Lion helmer Garth Davis directing and Jared Leto starring. In a new interview with Vulture, the Top Gun: Maverick director speculated Disney chose to invest in its Marvel and Star Wars brands over the planned Tron: Ascension. 

"I got so close. I really tried. I got close in 2015, and Disney pulled the plug on it," Kosinski said of the Tron sequel that would have brought the digitized virtual reality of the Grid into the real world. "I hadn't built anything, but I had the whole movie storyboarded and written. I was really excited because it was inverting the idea: It was all that stuff coming into our world, and it was about the blending of the two."

When Tron: Legacy grossed $400 million worldwide after its release in December 2010, the studio had only two billion-dollar hits: 2006's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Johnny Depp's live-action Alice in Wonderland. After acquiring Marvel Entertainment in late 2009, Disney purchased the worldwide marketing and distribution rights to Marvel's The Avengers and Iron Man 3 from Paramount Pictures, becoming the sole distributor of Marvel Studios movies. 

By 2012, Disney had acquired Lucasfilm and the rights to Star Wars, and the studio had its first $2 billion-grosser in The Force Awakens in 2015. As of June 2022, Disney has 25 films that surpassed a billion globally — many of them belonging to Marvel and Star Wars.

"It was a different Disney by 2015. When I made Tron: Legacy, they didn't own Marvel; they didn't own Star Wars. We were the play for fantasy and science fiction," Kosinski said. "And once you've got those other things under your umbrella, it makes sense that you're going to put your money into a known property and not the weird art student with black fingernails in the corner — that was Tron." 

The Tron 2 director noted if he had made Tron 3, "I wouldn't have made Only the Brave, and I wouldn't have made the movies I made," including Tom Cruise's Oblivion and Top Gun: Maverick. The latter recently opened to the biggest-ever Memorial Day weekend in history. 

"But remember, the first Tron was not a hit when it came out," Kosinski continued. "It's a cult classic. And if Tron: Legacy's becoming the same thing, I couldn't be more thrilled." 

Tron and Tron: Legacy are available to stream on Disney+.