'Venom 2' Officially Locks Down Andy Serkis To Direct [Updated]

Update: It's official – Andy Serkis will direct Venom 2 for Sony, via The Hollywood Reporter. Beyond the news that he's locked down the gig, no other details are available at this time.

Sony Pictures is on the hunt for a Venom 2 director, and the studio recently met with three high-profile contenders for the job.

Rupert Wyatt, who directed the surprisingly great Rise of the Planet of the Apes, is in talks, and he's competing with Bumblebee helmer Travis Knight as well as Andy Serkis, the actor who portrayed the villainous Ulysses Klaue in Marvel Studios' Marvel Cinematic Universe. Here's what we know.Variety reports that Wyatt, Knight, and Serkis are all simply taking meetings for the position, and no front-runner has emerged yet. Ruben Fleischer directed the first movie, but he is not returning for the sequel. (He also directed the upcoming Zombieland 2: Double Tap.) Wyatt's recent credits include Captive State and The Gambler remake, while Knight has several stop-motion movies under his belt and just moved into live-action for the first time with Bumblebee. Serkis, who memorably played performance-capture characters like Gollum in the Lord of the Rings films and Caesar in the newest Planet of the Apes trilogy, has several years' worth of directing experience. He was the second unit director on Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy before graduating to the director's chair himself in 2017 with a small indie drama called Breathe.

Most recently, he directed Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, a film that combined performance-capture with live-action to middling results. The long-delayed movie ended up being dropped by Warner Bros. and scooped up by Netflix, where it earned a 52% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes and a 53% from audiences. That's not exactly the kind of response that you'd think would get you a meeting with a major studio to direct a huge superhero movie sequel, but The Hollywood Reporter says Venom 2 will be "effects heavy" and will mix CG with performance capture technology, so perhaps Sony thinks Serkis's combination of talents is the right fit here.

Interestingly, Serkis once said that star Tom Hardy would be playing Venom in the first movie using performance capture technology, but later, Hardy revealed to Total Film that they ended up scrapping that approach:

"It wasn't motion-capture, because the eyeballs on the creature, on Venom, and the mouth, they don't match with my eyeballs and mouth. So the mo-cap treatment went out of the window pretty quickly...Facially, your eyes and teeth and tongue are not going to match with this. And you need a 7ft tall basketball player in a Lycra suit for the physical shots."

So is performance capture back on the menu for Venom 2? Did Serkis, who's one of the masters working in that field, crack the code and figure out a way to make it work? If nothing else, I suppose Serkis may have a mental edge here because of his deep understanding of the Eddie Brock/Venom dynamic after playing the similarly-split Gollum in so many movies.

Hardy is returning to star in this sequel alongside Michelle Williams and Woody Harrelson, who was teased briefly as the ludicrously-wigged Cletus Kasady, AKA Carnage. Kelly Marcel, one of three credited writers on the first film, is returning to write the screenplay. Sony wants Venom 2 to begin filming this November.