Mortal Kombat, Warner Bros.' movie reboot based on the iconic video game series, has landed on HBO Max. The R-rated fantasy drama has been keenly anticipated by film fans and gamers and, while critical reception has been mixed so far, it could be a sure-fire hit for Warner Bros if viewing figures for its red band trailer are anything to go by.
Though the film has just launched in the US, attentions have already turned to the possibility of Mortal Kombat sequels. As it happens, there could be more instalments in its film series – and we may see as many as four other movies, according to actor Joe Taslim.
Speaking to Variety ahead of Mortal Kombat's release, Taslim – who plays the villainous Sub-Zero – revealed that he was signed on to play the character again for four more instalments.
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Asked about the potential for future Mortal Kombat movies, Taslim told the Just for Variety podcast that, “If this one’s successful, maybe we do more.” He added that his contract permits him to reprise the role of Sub-Zero in a Mortal Kombat film quartet, if Warner Bros. are happy to move forward with possible sequel plans.
Does Mortal Kombat tease a follow-up movie?
Spoilers follow for Mortal Kombat's ending. Don't scroll past the image below if you don't want its finale ruined.
There are no mid-credits or post-credits scenes in Mortal Kombat, but we do get a major tease about where a follow-up film would go. You can read more about Mortal Kombat's ending in our explainer article, but we'll quickly reveal what the movie's final scene hints at.
After protagonist Cole Young and Earthworld's other champions defeat Shang Tsung's forces, we see Cole leaving his cage fighting days behind him. He tells his former employer that he's heading to Los Angeles to look for someone and, before the screen cuts to black, the camera pans to a poster on the wall.
Mortal Kombat fans won't need any introduction to the character on that poster. Yep, it's Johnny Cage, another iconic character from the video game series.
Why is Cole going in search of Cage? Well, Lord Raiden - the Thunder God - wants Cole and his other champions to find others like them to defend Earth from Shang Tsung. The latter has already told Raiden and Earth's champions that he'll return with an army next time, so they'll need all of the help they can get from other powered beings.
Mortal Kombat 2, then, would likely follow Cole's journey to recruit Cage and other warriors, with the dragon mark that bestows them with unique powers, to prepare for Shang Tsung's return. Hopefully, Cage wouldn't be the only new hero or villain who would appear in any sequel but, for now, we don't know who else could star in a possible follow-up.
What will determine if Mortal Kombat is a success?
Ordinarily, making a profit at the box office. According to a Forbes report, Mortal Kombat cost $95 million to produce, but Warner Bros. will likely have spent more than that figure on marketing costs to promote the movie domestically and overseas.
In order for a film to be successful, it would need to bring in enough box office revenue to recoup production and marketing costs, and make a healthy profit for the studios that helped to make it and distributed it. In a pre-Covid world, that would mean that Mortal Kombat would likely need to exceed $200 million in ticket sales to be deemed worthy enough for a sequel.
If audiences are interested in seeing it, they'll stump up the cash to do so. If they aren't, a film will flop and any potential follow-up movies will be canned. So far, Mortal Kombat has made around $20 million cumulatively in international markets – $11 million of which was made during its opening weekend (via Deadline) – so it still has some way to go to even make back its production cost.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, though, a movie's success isn't entirely defined by the money it makes. With theater doors closed in a bid to halt the spread of Covid-19, many studios have turned to streaming services to distribute their movies. Warner Bros. is even releasing its entire 2021 movie slate on its in-house HBO Max platform and, while it was a decision panned by many big-name directors when it was first announced, it might be the move that allows films like Mortal Kombat to receive a sequel or two.
Warner Bros. saw its superhero flick Wonder Woman 1984 (WW84) become the most -watched movie on a streaming platform in 2020 (via THR), while Godzilla vs Kong became HBO Max's biggest-ever launch movie when it arrived in late March (h/t Variety). The success of this duo shows that audience demand for new movie releases is still high, even if they're distributed on streaming services.
Of course, WW84 and Godzilla vs Kong will have made some money for Warner Bros, too. Both movies performed well at the international box office and each release will have led to some viewers signing up for an HBO Max subscription in order to watch either or both. These two factors will have made both movies profitable for Warner Bros in some capacity, and suggests that Warner Bros. contentious decision was the right one to make.
What does this mean for Mortal Kombat any any potential sequels? Well, if it draws in as many viewers as WW84 and Godzilla vs Kong, it seems inevitable that Warner Bros. would greenlight at least one follow-up movie. There's clearly an appetite for the reboot, given that its official trailer became the most-watched R-rated teaser of all-time (until The Suicide Squad trailer landed online). If fan fervour for the flick is as big as it seems, this should be another big hit for HBO Max and Warner Bros, and will surely lead to the greenlighting of Mortal Kombat 2 in the future.
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