EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate and Black Label Media are getting closer to a production start on Soldado, the second installment of the drug war thriller that began with 2015’s Sicario. I’m told that Stefano Sollima is the front-runner to direct the second installment and should have the job shortly, with talks expected to wrap up quickly. Denis Villenueve directed the first film. Sollima is the Italian director who has made a number of memorably gritty crime thrillers but is best known for directing the Italian miniseries Gomorra and the features Suburra and A.C.A.B. (All Cops Are Bastards). Soldado was scripted by Taylor Sheridan. Black Label Media and Lionsgate are co-financing.
The sequel focuses on Alejandro Gillick, the shadowy Man on Fire-like protagonist played by Benicio Del Toro, and Josh Brolin’s CIA agent Matt Graver, who in the first film established themselves as hellbent on hunting down cartel kingpins, no matter what. The script by Sheridan — who wrote the original — has been very well received. Gone is the principled FBI agent character played by Emily Blunt. The subject matter is very topical, as Gillick and Graver concern themselves with what is being smuggled across the border between Mexico and the U.S. in the tunnels used to move drugs and illegal immigrants. Those tunnels also can be used to bring terrorists into the U.S.
The sequel is being produced by Thunder Road’s Basil Iwanyk, Black Label’s Molly Smith and Thad and Trent Luckinbill, and Edward McDonnell. I’m told that the plan is to move into production by the fall and that the talent all has sparked to Sollima. Final meetings with the studio are happening shortly. Sollima is repped by CAA and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
Black Label Media just teamed with Lionsgate for the Emma Stone-Ryan Gosling-starrer La La Land, and Black Label is backing the Danny Strong-directed Rebel in the Rye.