The 2005 film Constantine, based on DC/Vertigo’s popular Hellblazer comic book about a mystic who can communicate with angels and demons, was not a resounding success. But the movie’s principals — actor Keanu Reeves, director Francis Lawrence and producer Akiva Goldsman — very much wanted to make a sequel.
“Boy, we wanted to. We wanted to make a hard ‘R’ sequel,” said Goldsman during a Comic-Con@Home panel, hosted by Collider’s Steve Weintraub, in which Reeves, Lawrence and Goldsman all looked back at the comic book adaptation.
“We’d probably make it tomorrow,” Goldsman continued, “To the studios who made it, Village Roadshow and Warner Bros., it was always a little bit of a feathered fish. Its oddness…the way it was equally comfortable in a character scene between Keanu and Rachel (Weisz) as it is with demons flying, hurling themselves at a man who going to light his fist on fire and expel them.”
Goldsman continued, “It’s odd, right? It’s not really action-packed, it just has a bunch of action. This movie isn’t exactly a thing, it’s kind of a few things, which is what I think is beautiful about it. But those seem harder and harder to make. We’ve talked about it and we’ve had ideas.”
“We definitely talked about sequels more than the studio,” agreed Lawrence. “You know, the movie did fairly well and this was also a time when people still sold DVDs, so the movie did decently at the time. But it wasn’t a knockout success and it also wasn’t really critically acclaimed by any means at the time.”
Constantine made around $76 million in the U.S. when it arrived in September 2015, adding another $154 million at the international box office for a worldwide gross of $230 million. With a budget somewhere between $75 and $100 million, that haul was probably not quite impressive enough to warrant a second film.
It also stands at 46% on Rotten Tomatoes, not exactly resounding support from film critics. The movie’s “R” rating — which was slapped on the picture by the MPAA ratings board even though Lawrence was mandated by the studio to make a PG-13 film — might not have helped either.
Still, Lawrence said that he still gets asked to sign Constantine DVDs more than anything else whenever he goes on press tours for other films: “People really love this movie,” he says. “And I think it’s found a sort of new life in a weird way.”
In the years since the movie came out, the character of John Constantine has continued to live on in the comics, but a 2014 TV series on NBC was canceled after just 13 episodes. Star Matt Ryan, however, has since reprised the character on The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow, joining the show as a series regular during Season 4. Constantine may also factor in the recently announced Justice League Dark series being developed by HBO Max.