It's likely that Sherlock Holmes may be the most prolific character in the history of cinema. Holme's first film appearance occurred in a one-reel film titled Sherlock Holmes Baffled back in 1900 and his latest was the 2015 film Mr. Holmes, starring Sir Ian McKellen as a 93 year old retired Holmes. But among all of the appearances, perhaps Sherlock's most famous film appearance was in the 2009 film Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey Jr. as the eponymous detective.
Following the success of Sherlock Holmes (which made $524 million on a $90 million budget) a sequel film, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, was released in 2011 which enjoyed similar commercial success. Shortly before the release of A Game of Shadows, gathering that they had another hit on their hands, Warner Bros. Pictures announced that a script for Sherlock Holmes 3 was underway, however nearly five years later little has been heard of the supposed third film in the series.
So with that in mind, here's everything we know about what's happening with the long awaited Sherlock Holmes 3:
What is happening with production?
It's been a long journey for this film, strap in and follow the timeline below:
In October, 2011 it was announced by Warner Bros that there would be a Sherlock Holmes 3 and that Drew Pearce (who also wrote the script for Robert Downey Jr. film Iron Man 3) would be writing the script. Then in 2012 Guy Ritchie, having directed the first two installments, reportedly signed on as the director.
In 2013 Jude Law (who played Dr. Watson in the first two films) told Digital Spy that he, Downey Jr. and Guy Ritchie had sat down earlier in the year to discuss the film, indicating they would be reprise their roles. He also mentioned that the script was still in process but that Warner Bros was still onboard to pay for the film to be produced.
In 2014 producer Susan Downey spoke to Collider and confirmed the film was in development, though revealed that the script was still a work in progress due to the fact that the team wanted to make sure a third film made sense and didn't repeat "ideas or movements that we’ve already made with these guys." This was reiterated in August 2015 when producer Lionel Wigram also stated the script was still being worked on.
Finally in April 2016 there was a double dose of good news for fans. Firstly Deadline reported that James Coyne had joined the production to help with rewrites of the script, indicating that the script was in the finale stages. Then Robert Downey Jr. told Short List that work could begin on on the film by the end of 2016. Downey Jr. also stated that the busy schedules of cast and crew had been a contributing factor in the films delay. Speaking about the film the Marvel star said:
"If we could shoot it on Skype, we could have the whole [movie] done in a week. When we’re making those Sherlock movies it is off the hook. [So] we’ll attempt to make one this year. It really is a big deal to go and do those movies. I’m tired all the time, but I’m so excited about it."
Then last month producer Joel Silver echoed Downey Jr. said when he told Collider that it looks likely that the the film might begin filming in the fall:
“It looks like it could happen this fall. Downey said he wants to do it. He’s gotta launch into another Avengers movie, right after the New Year, so we’re trying to get it done. We have a script that we like. Jude [Law] is available and Downey is available, and we’re hoping we can get it done. If it works, great. If not, we’ll do it another time. But, it looks like it could happen now.”
So with production looking set to start by the end of 2016...
Which cast and crew members are returning or joining?
Well, news on the front is a bit more scarce. Obviously Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law will be reprising their roles as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, and Guy Ritchie will again be directing. All three have frequently discussed returning for the third installment, and RDJ's wife Susan Downey is also one of films four producers (via their production company Team Downey).
It has been rumored that Rachel McAdams will return as Irene Adler, though this is unconfirmed at this stage.
What will Sherlock 3 be about?
While the screenwriting team have been busy on the script they have closely guarded the plot, however back in 2012 it was rumored that the film could be based in America. Whether this would mean the film itself would be set in the US is unknown, though at least a slight (albeit unlikely) possibility.
When can we expect to see it in cinemas?
If the film goes into production this fall, we could maybe expect to see it in cinemas sometime in 2017 or 2018. Back in 2014, Susan Downey said it was likely fans would see the film within the next few years, though made it clear that after a certain point it wouldn't make sense to release it at all. "At a certain point it’s going to be too long—we’ve waited too long," she told Collider.
Will it be the last film in the series?
Despite a long and drawn out process moving forward with Sherlock Holmes 3, given the success of the first two films it seems almost remise not to imagine the franchise being extended should the next film be a success. In fact, producer Joel Silver actually told Collider in May that he hopes Sherlock Holmes 3 isn't the end of series. He said:
"I hope [it’s not the last one]. I don’t think so. How many Bond films have they made? As long as there’s a character, we can work with it. It’s not an end story. We can keep going, as long as people want to do it. It’s [the actor’s] call. They have to say, ‘Okay, I’m ready to go.’ I read about them making another Bad Boys. If they want to do it, then you try to get it done."
But as exciting as the idea of four, five or even more Sherlock Holmes films might be, for now we'll have to wait for further announcements to be made on the production of the third film, here's hoping they come soon!