Doug Liman has directed a wide range of films over his two-decades-and-counting career behind the camera, from swing-music-scored bro comedies (Swingers) to slam-bang spy movies (The Bourne Identity) to his latest, American Made, a Goodfellas-flavored drug-running caper that opens in theaters on Sept. 29. One piece of cinematic territory he hasn’t yet navigated is that tricky terrain known as the sequel. That’s about to change, though. As announced last year, Liman and his American Made star, Tom Cruise, are looking to revisit their first collaboration, 2014’s time-traveling alien-invasion movie, Edge of Tomorrow.
Furthermore, the planned sequel — tentatively titled Live Die Repeat and Repeat — would be in line with Liman’s desired goal of rebranding the nascent franchise by its original name: Live Die Repeat. “That was an epic war between me and Warner Bros. that I lost,” Liman tells Yahoo Entertainment about the behind-the-scenes fight over the first film’s title. The director may have lost that particular battle, but he appears poised to win the war. When Edge of Tomorrow arrived on Blu-ray, the words “Live,” “Die,” and “Repeat” were emblazoned more prominently on the cover than the actual title.
“I’m hoping to rebrand it fully as Live Die Repeat, and the sequel will be inspired from that, whether it’s Live Die Repeat and Repeat or something else. Tom and I make movies for the long term, and I really think about getting the title settled for posterity.” (One major battle that Liman did win during production? Keeping the time-travel element in the face of studio skepticism. “At one point, the studio asked, ‘Does he need to repeat the day? Can’t he just fight the aliens?’ I was like, ‘If you want me to direct it, he’s gotta repeat the day.’”)
Beyond getting the title right, Liman says his other guiding principle behind sequelizing a well-liked film is not approaching it as a sequel. “Normally there are financial decisions behind making a sequel, but with this, it was just about us coming up with a story. Really, it’s not a world I was eager to go back to, because dealing with time travel can make your head hurt. But there was so much affection from fans of the movie — more than any of my other movies! — that Tom and I felt that we owed it to ourselves to at least think about what a sequel could be.”
In their scenario, Live Die Repeat and Repeat will start off as a continuation that reverses the clock, rather than moving it forward. “It picks up where the last one left off, but then we go backwards in time. I love it way more than the story of the original film.” Going the sequel-as-prequel route also ensures that Cruise’s grinning public-affairs-officer-turned-screaming soldier, Bill Cage, will remain the cowardly egoist we knew and loved in the first movie. “I like antiheroes,” Liman says. “Pretty much all of my films are about antiheroes, including American Made.”
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