The Sherlock Holmes franchise with Robert Downey Jr. has been a box office hit. Not only did the first movie make over $524 million worldwide in 2009, but the sequel actually ended up making more money in 2011 with a worldwide haul of nearly $544 million. Sequels don’t always earn more than their predecessor, but Guy Ritchie’s unique approach to Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic detective just hit audiences in the right spot. And we could be getting even more beyond another sequel.
We’ll soon see if the franchise can find major box office success again roughly a decade later with Sherlock Holmes 3 getting closer to becoming a reality. If Robert Downey Jr. and his wife and producing partner Susan Downey have their way, the new sequel will serve as a launching point for a whole Sherlock Holmes cinematic universe of movies and TV shows.
IndieWire paid attention to Robert Downey Jr. and Susan Downey when they virtually appeared on a panel at Fast Company’s Innovation Festival, during which they revealed conversations surrounding an assembly of spin-offs that could follow Sherlock Holmes 3 and created a “mystery-verse” akin to the Marvel Cinematic Universe that began with Downey’s starring role in Iron Man, one year before he took on the mantle of Sherlock Holmes. Susan Downey was first to say something about the Sherlock Holmes cinematic universe:
“Doing a one-off third movie, we could do, but we do think there’s opportunity to build it out more, to spin off some characters from the third movie, to see what’s going on in the television landscape, to see how Warner Media is starting to build things out with HBO and HBOMax. We definitely have kind of grand schemes and plans and all that, but it takes a lot. It takes a lot of coordination because again, Marvel wasn’t built in a day. It took several wins and things that worked very well to then be able to connect them, to then be able to branch out.”
Indeed, the existence of all these streaming services make it much easier to build out movies and TV shows from a successful theatrical title. And considering how hard movie theaters are going to be hit over the next year thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, it might be easier to release some of these spin-offs in the streaming world rather than trying to get the money to finance them in theaters.
However, it doesn’t sound like any of these spin-offs would feature Robert Downer Jr. as Sherlock Holmes. The Avengers: Endgame savior himself said:
“At this point, we really feel there’s not a mystery-verse built out anywhere, and Conan Doyle is the definitive voice in that arena to this day, so to me, why do a third movie if you’re not going to be able to spin off into some real gems of diversity, and other times and elements? We’re not repeaters, we don’t want to just try to do what’s been done somewhere else. But I think the model itself has become much more dimensionalized than it was before.”
He’s certainly right about there not being much of a “mystery-verse” out there, though Knives Out and the remake of Murder on the Orient Express have now sparked franchises with recurring detectives solving mysteries among all-star casts. Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories of Sherlock Holmes certainly allow for a wider roster of characters to shine in spin-off stories. The question is whether audiences are interested in those kind of projects if the drawing power Robert Downey Jr. isn’t there.
As of now, Sherlock Holmes 3 is slated to arrive on December 22, 2021. But the movie hasn’t started filming yet, and considering how many projects are still being delayed every day, I wouldn’t be surprised if this one got pushed back too. Stay tuned.
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