Jim Henson’s 1986 classic fantasy film, Labyrinth, has achieved something that its initial box office performance would never in a million years justify: a sequel.
TriStar Pictures is set to take moviegoers back to the world of fairies, goblins and baby-napping glam-rockers who put on random musical numbers within the confines of enormously ominous oubliettes, with a sequel to Labyrinth now officially in the works, according to Deadline. Additionally, the studio has already found a creative team to tackle the project, tapping a director who’s put in work exploring appropriately labyrinthine fantastical worlds in Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson. He’ll work off a script by Maggie Levin, who’s put in genre work on Hulu series Into the Dark and My Valentine, along with Go90’s Miss 2059.
Coming from the creative dream team of director Jim Henson and writer Terry Jones, Labyrinth followed the fantastical exploits of teenager Sarah Williams (Jennifer Connelly), who, in a moment of anger, wishes away her incessantly-crying baby brother, Toby, who is subsequently taken to the other-worldly custody of Jareth, the Goblin King (David Bowie). Thus, Sarah’s quest to retrieve the boy involves navigating the Goblin King’s titular labyrinth, a perilous place filled with vexing, dimensionally-confusing traps, along with an array of practical puppet characters that are immediately identifiable as hailing from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.
As mentioned, while Labyrinth may stand as a classic today, it was contemporaneously anemic upon its 1986 premiere, opening at #8 on the U.S. box office charts, which led to a final tally of $12.7 million, leaving studio TriStar in the red against the film’s $25 million budget. However, after years of rental and cable exposure, audiences eventually appreciated the film’s whimsically fantastical presentation, and Bowie’s performance as the Goblin King steals the film, arguably standing as the most iconic onscreen role of the late singer’s side-gig as an actor.
Consequently, while news of a Labyrinth sequel seems to have come out of nowhere, it’s actually the latest development in a long process to conjure a follow-up to the film, notably following plans from 2017 to have Fede Alvarez direct a film designed to be a spinoff—rather than a sequel—to the original 1986 classic; plans that ultimately failed to bear fruit. Yet, rumblings remained prevalent in the pop culture panorama, even manifesting a 2018 Labyrinth prequel comic focused on the origin story of Bowie’s Goblin King. However, a major impetus for this sequel project arrived in 2019 with the small-screen revival of a similar Jim Henson-directed fantasy classic in Netflix’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance; a lushly-produced serial prequel that seems to have whetted appetites for more Henson-esque fantasy offerings.
With Scott Derrickson, the Labyrinth sequel gets a director who mostly resides in the world of horror, known from genre offerings like Deliver Us from Evil, Sinister and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, along with a sci-fi sojourn with the Keanu Reeves-headlined remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. While he enjoyed a successful stint for Marvel Studios as director of 2016’s Doctor Strange—properly channeling the dazzling dimensional mysticism originally depicted in the pages of Marvel Comics by artist Steve Ditko—Derrickson ran into creative differences with the studio over the still-gestating sequel, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, with Sam Raimi reportedly sized up for the job, eyeing a release for March 2022.
The Labyrinth sequel will also see Derrickson serve as an executive producer, joined in that capacity by his frequent collaborator, C. Robert Cargill, along with Brian Henson. Additionally, Lisa Henson is producing via The Jim Henson Company, and Blanca Lisa, VP of feature film production, will shepherd the project on the company’s behalf.
For now, that is the extent of the details on the Labyrinth sequel, and even the vaguest hint of a plot point has yet to be divulged. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how the project is approached, and if we’ll see the return of Jennifer Connelly’s Sarah. If so, that would yield the additional question of who she’d be crossing paths with, especially if the late David Bowie’s Goblin King role will—as expected—remain sacrosanct.