Is Labyrinth 2 Ever Happening? Director Scott Derrickson Has An Answer 

Looking back, it's no wonder "Labyrinth" bombed at the box office. The last feature film directed by the late, great Jim Henson is just too inspiredly bizarre to have ever stood a chance of catching on with a mainstream audience right away, much less at the height of the Reagan era when it originally came out in 1986. It took many years of young people singing along to "Magic Dance" during slumber parties and coming to recognize their own sexual awakening right along with the then-teenaged Jennifer Connelly as Sarah for the film to become the cult classic it is today.

Indeed, dark, twisted, and occasionally sensual fantasy films that struggle to catch on with the masses before finding a niche audience were very much Henson's bag in the '80s. His and Frank Oz's 1982 feature film "The Dark Crystal" was also a financial dud that enjoyed a long shelf life upon being discovered by younger generations (I recall being immediately hooked, upon seeing previews for it on The Disney Channel as a kid). In that case, it would go on to receive a prequel series on Netflix titled "The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance" in 2019, just short of 40 years after the film hit theaters. If history is any indicator, then, we'll be getting a "Labyrinth" continuation at some point in the next few years too. That's how the movie industry works, right?

All cheekiness aside, "Labyrinth 2" has a better shot at happening than you might think. It's something The Jim Henson Company had been talking about internally for decades before it formally began moving forward in the late 2010s. Things have since slowed down on that front, but it appears the follow-up might just have some power (of voodoo) left in it yet.

Why hasn't Labyrinth 2 happened yet?

Development on "Labyrinth 2" was unfortunately announced just a couple of weeks after David Bowie — who famously played the singing, slinky, tights-wearing Goblin King in Henson's original film — had passed away in January 2016. Thankfully, "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Detective Pikachu" writer Nicole Perlman, who was the first scribe hired to work on the script, was quick to clear up the situation, clarifying that she had been loosely attached to the film since 2014 (well before Bowie's death) and was approaching it as a sequel and not a reboot as rumored.

A year later, though, things took a twist, with Fede Álvarez coming aboard to direct the film and co-pen a fresh script draft with his "Girl in the Spider's Web" writer Jay Basu. As eyebrow-raising as the prospect of the filmmaker behind the firmly R-rated "Evil Dead" and "Don't Breathe" helming "Labyrinth 2" was, it also made a certain amount of sense. Henson's original film, while not strictly a horror movie, is full of fantastical yet unnerving imagery and characters, so much so that it would take someone who shared Henson's appreciation for the macabre (an aspect of the Muppets creator that we don't often talk about) to do justice by his vision in a sequel. 

For better or for worse, Álvarez would ultimately step down from the project, telling Bloody Disgusting in 2020 that, basically, his heart wasn't into it. Fortunately, this wasn't necessarily a sign that The Jim Henson Company was shirking away from a darker and weirder approach to the sequel in keeping with its predecessor. On the contrary, the news broke shortly after that another well-known name in the horror scene, "Sinister" and "The Black Phone" director Scott Derrickson, had taken Álvarez's former spot.

Everything Scott Derrickson has said about Labyrinth 2

With "Doctor Strange" under his belt, Derrickson has proven he knows how to make a mostly family-appropriate affair that retains the harder edge of his horror work. He's likewise a better match for "Labyrinth 2" than Álvarez ever was, with "Doctor Strange" also showing that he can effectively conjure up the type of surreal visuals that pervade throughout Henson's original film (which, at one point, throws its characters into an M.C. Esher-style room of staircases leading in impossible directions). But with a long to-do list currently topped by "The Black Phone 2," what are the odds of Derrickson actually getting to the sequel in the foreseeable future?

Well, by the sound of things, not especially high at the moment. Speaking to in October 2023, Derrickson indicated "Labyrinth 2" is in a holding pattern, at least so far as his iteration of the film is concerned. In his own words:

"I don't know what's happening with that. We never got the script all the way to a place where the studio wanted to make it, but I was very proud of the work that we did on it. And it's a hard, hard project to turn into something commercially viable, because it's so imaginative and surreal that there's no way that it can be done cheaply. And at the same time, it's so daring and different that it is a tough movie for a studio to feel competent that it has enough commercial value to earn a profit. So I think that it's a tough nut to crack, but all I can tell you is I'm very proud of the work that we did on it. We certainly had a great film in mind."

What could happen in Labyrinth 2

It sounds like Derrickson has something pretty faithful in spirit to Henson's original "Labyrinth" in mind, which would explain why it's spinning its wheels for the time being. Big expensive productions that allow individual artists to indulge in their eccentric side like Henson's original film haven't exactly gotten more fashionable over the last four decades, so it's not as though studio executives were ever going to be tripping over themselves to green-light a "Labyrinth" sequel along the lines of what Derrickson alluded to. Not to mention, where a belated sequel like "Hocus Pocus 2" — another follow-up to an off-beat and oddly horny fantasy flop turned cult hit — could play the nostalgia card by bringing back its predecessor's stars, that's not possible here in the wake of Bowie's passing.

Speaking of which, how would "Labyrinth 2" handle Bowie's absence? Does Derrickson plan to cast his "Doctor Strange" star Tilda Swinton (one of the only living actors capable of recapturing the androgynous allure of Bowie) as the Goblin King? Or would the sequel introduce a brand-new villain? "Because the project is still in development, I probably shouldn't say," Derrickson told "Because I think we had a really cool idea, but I don't want to blow that in case the movie does get made." I mean, that's not a no...

Who will the stars of Labyrinth 2 be?

As Bowie is sadly no longer with us, that leaves Jennifer Connelly as the only major "Labyrinth" actor (not including the film's many wonderful puppeteers, of course) who could return for the sequel. Henson's original film wasn't her feature debut — that came a couple of years earlier with Sergio Leone's "Once Upon a Time in America" — but it's absolutely one that's personally meaningful to her. As she told Collider in 2021:

"It's so funny, it's a movie that I feel like over time, has slowly gotten this following over the years, bit by bit. I'm always surprised when people say, 'My favorite movie of yours is 'Labyrinth.” I've gotten that a bunch of times. It was pretty special, I have to say, working on that movie. That movie is really special to me. I loved Jim Henson so much. I think he was such a genius and a man of such towering creativity, with the sets, the characters, the fantasy of it, the creativity of it, and David Bowie. It's just great. For me, working on it was such a joy. It was a really joyous experience in my life, so it's a really special movie for me. We don't really make so many movies like that anymore."

Keeping that in mind, Connelly confirmed that she's had "conversations" about a "Labyrinth" sequel before admitting, "I'm not really sure where that's gonna land." It certainly sounds like she would be game to come back, though, perhaps all the more so if it's directed by Derrickson (who previously collaborated with Connelly on "The Day the Earth Stood Still"). in the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for any mysterious white barn-owls you may spot flying under the light of a full moon.

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