Will There be an I Am Legend Sequel?

Directed by Francis Lawrence, ‘I Am Legend’ is an adaptation of the Richard Matheson novel of the same name. It is the third film adaptation of Matheson’s novel after 1964’s ‘The Last Man on Earth’ and 1971’s ‘The Omega Man.’ The film made many changes to the source material but still proved to be a box-office hit. The ending of the film completes the journey of Will Smith’s character, Dr. Robert Neville, who has spent years trying to find the cure for the virus responsible for humanity’s near extinction. The film’s strong box-office numbers and the popularity of Smith’s character have continued to fuel the speculations about the possibility of an ‘I Am Legend’ sequel. Here’s what we know about it.

I Am Legend Sequel Release Date

‘I Am Legend’ was released in domestic and Canadian theatres on December 14, 2007, by Warner Bros. Pictures, and the film received a mixed response from the critics. However, the movie went on to rake in $585.3 million globally at the box office. Naturally, word of the studio’s interest in developing a follow-up movie started circulating. Various reports of conversations about a sequel generated buzz for quite some time following the film’s release, but these conversations have died down in recent years. Warner Bros. Pictures has made no official comment on a sequel, but if by some magic or divine intervention a sequel is greenlit this year, ‘I Am Legend’ sequel could be released sometime in 2024. 

The original film, set in a deserted New York City, follows the story of Dr. Robert Neville, who is seemingly the last survivor left in the city after a deadly virus either kills most of humankind or transforms them into mutilated vampire-like creatures. It’s a thrilling story of hope and persistence that ends with Neville sacrificing himself to ensure the cure of the virus, which he has ensured is safely delivered to a settlement of survivors.

The film stars Will Smith (‘Bad Boys’) in the role of Dr. Robert Neville, Alice Braga (‘Queen of the South’) as Anna, and Charlie Tahan as Ethan in the lead roles. Salli Richardson and Willow Smith appear as Zoe and Marley, Neville’s wife and daughter, in flashbacks. The film brings the journey of Smith’s character to a fitting conclusion and establishes him as the savior of humankind. Any potential continuation of the story would likely be without Smith’s character as bringing him back to continue the story would disrupt the legendary status he achieves at the end of the original film.

‘I Am Legend’ also has an alternate ending that sees Neville survive the events of the film. A prospective sequel could easily canonize that ending and focus on Neville’s, Anna’s, and Ethan’s search for other surviving humans. Having said that, director Francis Lawrence decided to work backward and was developing a prequel in the early years after the film’s release. He has since stepped away from the project after struggling to find a story equally intriguing as the original film, and the ‘I Am Legend’ prequel has been stuck in limbo ever since.

In 2018, Lawrence explained the reason behind his decision to step down from the project on the Happy Sad Confused Podcast. He said, “It just felt forced to do a prequel, and that was basically, we would have been doing Contagion. And to do something that’s a follow-up either doesn’t have him in it, or you have to do something really dumb, which is, you know, “Scientists have taken his DNA and reanimated him somehow!” And that would have been really dumb, and so I just kind of bowed out.”

Previously, in 2014, Warner Bros. was looking to reboot the franchise by rewriting a speculative script from writer Gary Graham to fit in the world of ‘I Am Legend.’ Since then, there has been no word on that project as well. But if the original film has taught us anything, it is to never give up hope even in times of despair. Although the possibility looks bleak, we might see an ‘I Am Legend’ sequel (or prequel/reboot) in the near future if a certain virus doesn’t wipe out humanity before that.

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