In a brief tweet: Kevin Tancharoen has apparently signalled his departure from the Mortal Kombat movie franchise.
The director launched Mortal Kombat: Legacy Season II at the end of September [watch], and had been discussing a third online season throughout promotion [read more]. He cites other creative opportunities as motivation for leaving the long rumoured feature film.
After 3 years of Kombat,I've decided to move on to other creative opportunities. I wish everyone involved in the movie big success. Thanks!— Kevin Tancharoen (@KTANCH) October 25, 2013
Tancharoen exploded onto the scene in 2010 when his unofficial Mortal Kombat: Rebirth short went viral. The live-action footage soon won him the directors chair for Mortal Kombat: Legacy, with plans for a feature film to follow. The online series served as prominent cross-promotion for the 2011 Mortal Kombat game, and rebooted the license under Warner Brothers. Legacy was reported to set a new benchmark for online serial content with millions of views, becoming one of the most watched shows of its kind in YouTube history [more].
While there was certainly success; Tancharoen's individualist approach to the established Mortal Kombat trademarks was always divisive. The initial impact of Rebirth's severe tone found and defined an audience eager for violence and self-seriousness. Legacy struggled to have it both ways thereafter: Neither faithful to the hugely successful source material of the games, nor the vastly removed, urban reinvention of Rebirth. Legacy II utilized core storylines from the games and previous films, but radically rewrote and recast characters and scenarios. It received the most mixed critical response from fans.
Released together; the ten episodes of Legacy II have struggled to recreate the immediate success of the first series. At the time of writing, the first episode boasts over 3.6 million views, but is followed by a 60% drop off that persists as an average just under 1.1 million for the remaining episodes. The penultimate episode [#9] currently has 903,805 views from 3 weeks -- impressive in general, but a step down from the record setting numbers of the virgin series.
As genre adaptations continue to overwhelm the box office - the bar is set high for this proven quantity. The Paul Anderson directed Mortal Kombat wowed audiences in 1995 with its combination of martial arts action, iconic fantasy and mythic story. It wasn't anywhere near the big budget vehicle of today's superhero blockbusters, with which the Mortal Kombat license may be compared to moving forward.
Tancharoen teased a working film script in June, 2012, and laughed off reported plot leaks around the same time. Departing well wishes suggest the framework for the long rumored movie is still in tact -- even if it needs a new director. Assuming, of course, there isn't already one in the picture. Michael Jai White (Jax) pinned his expectations for a return on the film [full story].
Rumors about a third movie have been a fixture of the landscape since the disappointment of Annihilation. Mortal Kombat Online has been reporting on the film and its many false starts since 2001 [and before]. Long time fans may see this as a disappointing return to development hell, but it could also signal something bigger and better than the low budget approach thus far. Warner Brothers have made noted changes to their approach to adjacent DC Entertainment properties in recent years.
Do you think Warner Brothers are reconsidering their approach to the series ahead of a new game? Is there a director you think fits the bill, or an approach to the material we need to see? Share your thoughts and speculation about this major development on the forums!