Stuck snuggly between the time comic book movies were a rare commodity and our current costume-filled climate is Constantine, the DC Comics adaptation with Keanu Reeves in the lead as the chain-smoking occult detective John Constantine. The film did pretty okay when it debuted in 2005—$230 million worldwide on a $100-ish million budget—but spawned no sequels. But boy, were there sequel ideas. Speaking to Reeves, director Francis Lawrence, and producer Akiva Goldsman during Collider’s Constantine reunion panel at ComicCon@Home, it was pretty clear all involved wanted to continue John Constantine’s story on the big screen.
According to Goldsman, it was the studio who wasn’t quite on board with more of Constantine‘s oddball tone.
“Yes. Oh my God, yes. [Sequels] endlessly came up. Boy, we wanted to, we wanted to do a hard-R sequel. I think we’d probably make it tomorrow. We tried a lot of different ways…to the studios who make it, which was Village Roadshow and Warner Bros., it was always sort of a feathered fish. Its oddness, the thing that you’re talking about, which I do think is one of the most lovely parts of the film, the way it is equally comfortable in a character scene between Keanu and Rachel [Weisz] as it is with demons hurling themselves at a man who is going to light his fist on fire and expel them. It’s odd. It’s not really action-packed, it just has a bunch of action. This movie isn’t really a thing, it’s a few things. Which is what I think is beautiful about it. But those seem to get harder and harder to make, and even then…we talked about it, we had ideas.”
Goldsman shared one sequel idea with us that would have had fans saying “Jesus Christ”, mostly because literally Jesus Christ would’ve been a character.
“I love that one of [John] wakes up in a cell, he has to identify a prisoner. Remember? It was [screenwriter Frank Cabello’s] idea. [The prisoner] was Jesus. He comes up and he’s in New York. Just…yeah we talked about a few scenes.”
But the cult Constantine fandom does live on 15 years later—we put together a whole panel for a reason—with Lawrence noting it remains arguably his most devoted fanbase.
“We definitely talked about sequels more than the studio. Because the movie did fairly well, and this was also a time when people still sold DVDs so I think it did decently at the time. But it wasn’t a knockout success and it also wasn’t really critically acclaimed by any means at the time. The cool thing for me about the movie is just, in the 15 years since it released, every time I do a movie and travel the world and do junkets, I am signing Constantine DVDs. More than any other movie that I’ve done. Over the years, different countries, people really, really love this movie. It’s like found a new life in a weird way. I even see articles, like Rotten Tomatoes posted an article like apologizing to Constantine about the Rotten Tomato count it had. People have sort of discovered it recently, weirdly. It’s always had its cult fanbase, which is great. But I think people have discovered it in a new way. So I think we always loved it more than the studios did.”