In 2014, audiences saw a colorful representation of Dia De Los Muertos, the Mexican 'Day of the Dead', in #TheBookOfLife. The movie served as an animated love letter to Mexican culture and tradition, but wasn't the roaring success producers hoped it would be, dashing any hopes for a sequel at the time. But it seems the fates have sided with director Jorge R. Gutierrez, as he tems up with Reel FX to proudly announce that The Book Of Life 2 will soon be in production.
The Book of Life followed the hopeless romantic Manolo (Diego Luna) and the soldier Joaquin (Channing Tatum) as they competed for the love of their childhood friend, Maria (Zoe Saldana). The love triangle catches the interest of the afterlife's playful guardians, Xibalba (Ron Perlman) and La Muerta (Kate del Castillo), who use the complicated love triangle for a wager that could forever change the way Dia De Los Muertos is celebrated.
Back From The Dead, And Back For More!
During an interview with Variety, Gutierrez unveiled the sequel to The Book of Life. The director discussed what the sequel would be about - specifically how it would tackle an established romance in a different way.
"The sequel grew from that and people asking what was gonna happen with the characters, what’s gonna happen with the gods? The sequel embraces all these things and, in a weird way, is a continuation of the story with everybody you love from the first movie."
"I am a big fan of romantic movies. I always want to find out what happens afterwards. That’s one question we will ask during the sequel."
Gutierrez originally planned for The Book of Life to be the first part of a trilogy, where each installment would focus on one of the main trio. Gutierrez revealed that the second movie would focus on Joaquin, while the third would be centered on Maria (since The Book of Life was all about Manolo). Only time will tell if the director will stick to this plan, or if he will take the story in a different direction, but it's certainly a charming idea that would please fans of the first installment.
The Book of Life 2 is currently in pre-production, and Gutierrez hopes to "get the band back together again," referring to the cast and crew of the first movie. Although Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum and Diego Luna were all popular stars before The Book of Life's release, their continuously successful careers may give the movie's sequel a wider appeal then its predecessor - perhaps most notably thanks to Luna's key performance in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story last year.
Life After The Afterlife
Even if The Book of Life earned close to $100 million against a $50 million budget, becoming one of the biggest breakout independent animated features ever released in America, it wasn't the massive success producers wanted. In fact, the upcoming sequel has only been made possible due to a devoted fan base. In the same interview, Gutierrez revealed that The Book of Life 2 owes a lot to the fans, since their undying support for the first movie convinced him and producers to push for a sequel.
"[The Book of Life] exploded at comic book conventions. People dressed up as the characters, they get tattoos of the characters... The fan reaction was insane. I had to keep explaining that it was for an art show."
Gutierrez's point about the fans shouldn't be underestimated, as the animation has inspired countless cosplayers and fan artists since 2014. In fact, La Muerta is now one of the most popular characters among cosplayers heading to conventions. The Book of Life has remained relevant years after its initial release, so it's fantastic to see the 2014 animation getting a hard-earned sequel.
The Book of Life's fanbase is so dedicated that fans even accused Pixar's upcoming #Coco of being a rip-off, since both movies take place during Dia De Los Muertos and prominently feature Mexican culture. However, the Pixar movie is yet to be released, and fans therefore can't explore the similarities further until November 22, 2017. As Marissa Martinelli of Slate pointed out, Coco actually has more similarities to Ratatouille and Spirited Away, due to its main character's admiration for a deceased artist and how that character interacts with a colorful version of the afterlife.
While it may be a considerable amount of time until we get to see The Book of Life 2, it should be reassuring for fans that a sequel is on its way. Joining in with the excitement is The Book of Life's character designer Sandra Equihua, who has already mocked up a poster for the upcoming sequel.