We’ve known for some time now that Aneesh Chaganty was developing a sequel to Searching, and today, the project has found its directors — Will Merrick and Nick Johnson, who edited the 2018 original.
Chaganty will simply produce the sequel alongside his Search Party partners Sev Ohanian and Natalie Qasabian, as well as Adam Sidman and his Bazelevs boss Timur Bekmambetov, who also produced the first film. Jo Henriquez will executive produce and Congyu E will serve as a co-producer on the project, which aims to start production this spring.
The sequel will feature a new set of characters, and Merrick and Johnson are writing the screenplay now, based on a story by Chaganty and Ohanian. The original starred John Cho as a father who tries to track down his missing teenage daughter (Michelle La) using her laptop while a local detective (Debra Messing) investigates her disappearance. The thriller unfolded on various screens — computer, phone, television — thanks to the Screenlife format popularized by the Unfriended movies that Bekmambetov produced.
Though Merrick and Johnson have never directed a movie before, I think it was wise of Search Party, in conjunction with Sony‘s Stage 6 Films label, to keep the original creative team intact, as few storytellers are likely to understand and be comfortable working within this format as the editors of Searching, which grossed more than $75 million worldwide on a budget of less than $1 million.
“With such restrictive visual parameters, a movie like Searching 2 requires a fresh visual style to separate it from the original,” Chaganty told Deadline, which broke the news. “I’ve contributed what I can to this growing sub-genre. But if there’s anyone on the planet with the potential to take it even further, it’s Nick and Will, who were there from the beginning.”
“On Searching, Will and Nick pioneered a new visual language and pushed the boundaries of what editors could contribute to a film. We are lucky and beyond excited to be working with them in their new roles as writers and directors on the sequel,” added Qasabian.
Merrick and Johnson are USC grads who edited Chaganty‘s recent Hulu thriller Run starring Sarah Paulson following Searching. They also served as the “directors of virtual photography on the latter film, which you can get a feel for here. I just hope they call this sequel Still Searching, which is either too good to pass up, or way too on the nose.