When speaking to director Francis Lawrence about his new Netflix movie “Slumberland” (streaming later this week), we had to ask him about his plans for “Constantine 2,” which was recently announced as officially happening. This new “Constantine” sequel, which will reunite him with original star Keanu Reeves and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, will be different in at least one key aspect, at least if Lawrence has his way. Get ready for a hard-R “Constantine.”
While Lawrence said that he didn’t think “Constantine 2” would be his next project (the director also just finished shooting the “Hunger Games” prequel “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes”), “All I know is that Keanu and Akiva and I have been wanting to do it forever.” He said that “all of that craziness with DC” has actually subsided, letting them reclaim the character. “We finally have been sort of given the permission to go ahead and do our version of Constantine because people are always saving him to be part of some shared universe thing or some TV thing or whatever. And now I think people realize that there might really be an appetite for another version of the Keanu Constantine.”
Released in 2005, “Constantine” found Reeves filling the role of the titular exorcist with the ability to talk to angles and demons.
J.J. Abrams, as part of his lucrative overall deal with Warner Bros. that was signed in 2019, was developing a “Constantine” television project as part of his grand scheme for the magical side of the DC Universe. All film, television and animation projects are now being overseen by DC Studios, headed by filmmaker James Gunn and producer Peter Safran. The character was last seen (sort of) as Johanna Constantine (played by Jenna Coleman) in Netflix’s acclaimed “Sandman” series.
While Lawrence said that he doesn’t have a script for the “Constantine” sequel yet, the new movie’s storyline has been discussed endlessly. “We have germs of ideas and dedication,” Lawrence said. “And Keanu and I have been batting around for a while and we’ve always wanted to do it. It’s just that we finally gotten past the hurdle of now we can go ahead and, and really do it. Now we have to just roll up our sleeves and dive in. But we have lots of ideas.”
One thing that will be different about the sequel, at least if Lawrence has his way, is that it will be rated R.
This stems from a frustration he had with the 2005 movie. “One of the biggest things for me about the first one was we followed, per Warner Bros., the rules to make a PG-13 movie in terms of violence, blood, language, sexuality. But the ratings board gave us a hard R based on their the gray zone of intensity. And my big, big regret was that we have an R-rated movie that’s really a PG-13 movie,” Lawrence said. “And if I was going to have to go have an R, I would have really made an R-rated movie. I would have made it much scarier and much more violent and I would have really made an R-rated movie.”
All that changes with the sequel.
“The idea is this time, at least for me, is to really go at it and make a real R-rated Constantine which is, I think, what people always wanted originally, not the PG-13 version that just happens to get an R,” Lawrence said.
The other thing he’d like to add in the follow-up? Some more laughs.
“I think John Constantine is a is a funny character in a darkly comic kind of way and I would want to definitely add more of that sarcastic, cynical sense of humor to the story,” Lawrence said. Bring it on.
Lawrence’s “Slumberland” is on Netflix on November 18 and we’ll have more from our chat with the filmmaker very soon.