I Am Legend: Akiva Goldsman to Expand to Sequel from Alternate Ending
Akiva Goldsman on his plans to develop the sequel to 2007's I Am Legend based on its alternate ending with Will Smith & Michael B Jordan.
It's not hard to fathom franchises attempting to stay relevant regardless if it makes logistic sense. The bar for storytelling revisionism is The Terminator, which tried three times with mixed results to develop an actual third film, with 2019's Dark Fate being the latest. In the case of Akiva Goldsman, he's looking to do that with 2007's I Am Legend trying to stay more faithful to the original Robert Matheson novel.
I Am Legend Theatrical Adaptations
The work has been adapted to three theatrical films starting with the Vincent Price-starred The Last Man on Earth in 1964, Charlton Heston-starred The Omega Man in 1971, and the latest that starred Will Smith. Matheson only had a direct influence in writing the screenplay for the 1964 feature. Goldsman set himself with two projects from his Weed Road banner to Warner Brother, including a sequel to the Francis Lawrence remake. "We're starting with two projects that are fun and very much Warners; the sequel to I Am Legend, with Will and Michael B. Jordan, and the sequel to Constantine with Keanu Reeves that Francis Lawrence is going to direct," he told Deadline Hollywood. "So I'm coming out of the gate fast. We're doing it with JJ Abrams, and Francis and Keanu and I have been pretty deep in the story-breaking stage."
All the films portray the main character trying to survive alone and isolated in the apocalypse, trying to research a cure for the vampirism in the Darkseekers who he constantly tries to fend off from daily attacks. The events of the 2009 film deviate significantly from the novel with changes like the setting from 1970s Los Angeles to 2009 New York. The ending saw Smith's Robert Neville sacrifice himself in an explosion so that Anna (Alice Braga) could travel with the cure to save humanity. The alternate ending had Neville survive with Anna upon his revelation about his work on the vampiric Darkseekers. The theatrical ending was changed because it tested poorly with initial audiences.
"This will start a few decades later than the first," Goldsman said. "I'm obsessed with The Last of Us, where we see the world just post-apocalypse but also after a 20-30-year lapse. You see how the earth reclaims the world, and there's something beautiful in the question of, as man steps away from being the primary tenant, what happens? That will be especially visual in New York. I don't know if they'll climb up to the empire state building, but the possibilities are endless. We trace back to the original Matheson book and the alternate ending as opposed to the released ending in the original film. What Matheson was talking about was that man's time on the planet as the dominant species had come to an end. That's a really interesting thing we're going to get to explore. There will be a little more fidelity to the original text."