EXCLUSIVE: Who said the franchise business was easy? Two big Warner Bros sequels are in the offing, and both of them are wrestling with major elements changes from the original moneymakers. Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures are moving ahead with a sequel to Clash of the Titans, which the studio would like as early as spring, 2012. But they will make the journey without Louis Leterrier, who will not return for an encore as director. Sam Worthington will return, as well as most every other character that survived. Greg Berlanti will write the story and the studio is already canvassing the agencies for a writer and director who can whip the movie into shape to shoot before Worthington makes Avatar 2. Leterrier will remain peripherally involved as executive producer. It isn’t unheard of for the original director of a big hit film to drop off the sequel–Doug Liman on The Bourne Identity comes to mind–and insiders swear that the Leterrier move was harmonious and are saying he wasn’t of a mind to rush into another installment of Greek mythological mayhem. The original has grossed around $390 million, on a $120 million budget with no real gross outlay. By the time it’s done, Clash will be one of the year’s biggest hits.
At the same time, New Line and Walden Media are putting together the sequel to Journey to the Center of The Earth, and sources said that Brendan Fraser is definitely teetering. The reason: the studio wants to make a fall, 2011 release date which would mean hiring another director to replace Eric Brevig, who’s busy with another Warner Bros 3D film, Yogi Bear. Fraser wants to be loyal to Brevig and is resisting New Line’s suggestion of filmmakers like Brad Peyton. New Line’s alternative would be re-fashion the film around Josh Hutcherson, who played Fraser’s character’s nephew in the original film. Such a move would save an eight-figure star salary, but it is a major risk to go without a star to return to a film that grossed $242 million worldwide.