This article contains spoilers for The Forever Purge.
The Purge franchise has been astonishingly successful since the series — which now incorporates five movies and two seasons of TV — launched in 2013 with the eponymous first movie. As of this writing (with the fifth film, The Forever Purge, just hitting theaters), the saga has racked up $460 million in worldwide box office receipts, against a combined budget for all five films of a reported $53 million.
That’s a damn good return on investment, especially for an R-rated, graphically violent, politically charged, and often bleak narrative. So it was somewhat unexpected when Purge creator James DeMonaco — who has written all five films and directed the first three — hinted to EW in 2018 that the fifth entry in the franchise would likely be the last.
But now, it seems, DeMonaco’s remarks might have been a little premature. Den of Geek asked Blumhouse Productions president Jason Blum, producer of the entire series, if this was indeed the end of the line, to which he replied, “I’m not going with this as the last one. James says this is the last one, but I have other ideas. So I haven’t given up yet. I’m going to keep twisting his arm. We’ll see if I prevail.”
Surprisingly, DeMonaco himself agrees. Asked about Blum’s comments, DeMonaco tells us, “Yeah, he’s been twisting, dude,” but adds, “It was the last one, in all honesty, until about four months ago. I just woke up and I had a new idea and I’m like, ‘Oh, shit. I think that could work.’”
DeMonaco continues, “I called Sébastien [Lemercier, DeMonaco’s producing partner] and I pitched it to him and he was like, ‘Damn it. You did it again. You came up with another one.’ And then pitched it to Jason and he liked it, and the studio liked it. So I’ve been outlining it. If the audiences want it and the cinema gods bless us to do another one, we’ll do it. I think it’s a cool idea.”
As detailed here, The Forever Purge (directed this time out by Everardo Gout) starts with the now familiar annual event — established by the totalitarian New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA), who control the U.S. government again — in which all crime, including murder, is legal for one night.
But the movie adds a new twist: an even more reactionary underground movement is determined to keep the Purge going in an effort to “purify” the country of immigrants, political opponents, the wealthy elite, and anyone else who the Forever Purgers deem un-American.
In an ironic turn, as the U.S. descends into chaos, Mexico opens its border for a few hours to allow refuge to any Americans who want to escape the carnage. As the film ends, civil war seems to have broken out in the U.S., with the new, even more vile Purgers overthrowing the government. But a news report reveals that Americans in the big cities are fighting back, indicating that hope may not be lost.
The ambiguous finale certainly leaves the door open for another story, and DeMonaco cautions that he wants his dark alternative history to keep moving forward: “I want to make sure we don’t repeat ourselves,” he explains. “It’s very hard, as you know, doing franchises. I think the most egregious error is to kind of keep repeating yourself. And that’s why even with this one, until I came up with the conceit of the Forever Purge, I wasn’t convinced we could do another one until I was like, ‘Oh, that’s interesting.’”
While box office is certainly a major factor — if not the overriding one — in determining whether to continue a franchise, Blum says there are other considerations as well. “Box office is a big part of it, obviously,” he says. “Every Purge movie we’ve done has outperformed the prior movie. For a franchise, that’s almost unheard of, I don’t know if that’s ever really happened before. I think it’s better to stop while you’re ahead, but I still think The Purge has a lot more stories I’d like to see.”
The producer of other successful franchises like Insidious, Paranormal Activity, and Sinister adds, “I do think it’s a gut feeling, and I also think it’s kind of artist-driven. There are some franchises that feel done and then a new writer or director will walk in and say, ‘Hey, what about if we took Sinister, for instance, and did this?’ That might inspire us, so it really depends on the idea. But I do think short of that, they kind of have a natural end. I don’t think we’ve reached the natural end with The Purge, though.”
The Forever Purge is out in theaters now.