'Donnie Darko 3' release date planned with Richard Kelly as director.

‘Donnie Darko 3’ Release Date Being Planned With Original Director, Could Be Years Away

A Donnie Darko 3 release date may happen a few years from now and would include the return of the original director. Back in 2001, Richard Kelly helmed what would become a cult classic, and he’s rumored to be coming back for a sequel which may help us forget the second film.

Much like the original Star Wars, Donnie Darko wasn’t a massive success until word of mouth spread a while after its release. The story of a high schooler (Jake Gyllenhaal) who wakes up to a man in a creepy rabbit mask, who tells him the world is going to end in less than a month, has since been heralded as one of the greatest mind-benders ever made. It also sparked what may have been a long-running career for his co-star sister Maggie, who eventually reached major films once more with The Dark Knight, replacing Katie Holmes as Rachel, Bruce Wayne’s (Christian Bale) love interest.

Maggie Gyllenhaal's career was launched with 'Donnie Darko'
Maggie Gyllenhaal’s career was launched with ‘Donnie Darko.’ [Featured Image by Debby Wong/Shutterstock]

The sequel wasn’t so well received, as it focused instead on Donnie’s sister Samantha and recast every other major character and turned from a coming-of-age psychological thriller about time travel into a road trip horror film. Critics and fans alike panned it for basically being an attempt to do the first movie all over again and failing to even do that.

Richard Kelly revealed that he does have plans to expand on the universe he created in 2001, according to Movie Web.

“I think there’s something much bigger and more ambitious to do in that universe. It’s big and expensive and I think there’s time to get to that. I want to make sure we’ve got the budget to do it justice and not to compromise anything. Another story in this world needs resources and we need to have that in place. I need to get my next film out of the gate and then we can go back and look at it.”

It’s apparent that Kelly cares enough to get everything right and portray the world properly, even if he may have to set it in the 90s this time. Much like the recent Netflix hit Stranger Things, Donnie Darko had a very distinctive 1980s charm to it, including covers of songs from Tears for Fears. “Mad World” and “Head Over Heels” had basically summed the film up with their otherworldly feel, and the 1990s was more of a decade of heavy metal’s heyday, the dark evolution of gangsta rap, and the witty British invasion of pop music.

Tears for Fears covers were some of the most memorable music in the film.
Tears for Fears covers were some of the most memorable music in the film. [Featured Image by Andy Sturmey/Shutterstock]

Also, the special effects would need that extra pop to be considered up to par with today’s standards set by films like Doctor Strange and Transformers. However, before a Donnie Darko 3 release date can be set, Richard Kelly says he has a lot of other projects which need to be done as well.

“I’ve been working on a lot of different projects. The trouble is they’re all very ambitious and expensive so they take a lot of time to get in place. We’re being very careful to set things up properly, … but I plan to be back behind a camera in 2017.”

Kelly’s plan is to release these projects back to back, so it could easily be 2020 before the world sees a welcome return of Donnie Darko. It’s also unknown if any of the remaining original cast will return. Patrick Swayze has been lost, and Jake Gyllenhaal’s titular character is among the casualties from the first film. Drew Barrymore might go for the chance to reprise her role, and we might get the original Frank back. Considering the space-time shifting tone of the first film, Jake might return in an unexpected way, possibly as the man in the rabbit mask for the ultimate twist.

[Featured Image by Pandora Cinema/Newmarket Films]

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