Will There Ever Be A Polar Express Sequel? Here's What We Know

With its illustrious pictures and grand story, "The Polar Express" has continued to be a cherished children's storybook decades after it was written in 1985 — largely thanks to the potent holiday nostalgia that emanates from the pages decorated by author and illustrator Chris Van Allsburg. But for many a millennial and Gen-Z child, as well as their parents, another version of the tale exists in their collective memories in the form of its 2004 film adaption directed by Robert Zemeckis ("Who Framed Roger Rabbit," "Forrest Gump") and starring an abundance of Tom Hanks. (Hankses? Hanksi?)

But while the film's ambitious use of early motion-capture technology ingrained the images of the thundering locomotive and awe-inspiring scenes of the North Pole in the minds of its audiences, it remains hotly divisive. Perhaps an even more controversial topic though, lies in the question of a sequel. From a spoofed internet rumor to a desperate GoFundMe plea, what little that exists regarding a second film is as ghostly as the train's Hobo spirit.

A Return to the North Pole and Stop-Motion?

When "The Polar Express" was released, it become a Guinness World Record holder for the first all-digital capture film (the same technology used by Andy Serkis to become Gollum) and had a record-breaking budget for an animated production at that time ($165 million). But depending on who you ask, "The Polar Express" is either a self-evident masterpiece or accidental nightmare fuel. So if a sequel were to emerge, it begs the question of whether it would use the same look as the first film or opt for a change. 

From "Beowulf," to "The Adventures of Tintin," to "A Christmas Carol," there have been extensive leaps made in motion-capture since the film was released, so there is a possibility that using those same techniques in a follow-up movie could pull off a slightly more realistic look for its human and elf characters. That being said, drastic and refreshing changes in animation style have been in vogue recently, so it's entirely plausible that a sequel for "The Polar Express" could seek to distance itself from the controversial animation used previously by introducing a new aesthetic for a sequel.

New Kids or More Tom Hanks?

Both the storybook and film end similarly, with the unnamed boy clinging to a silver bell given to him by Santa Claus as the first gift of Christmas. In the film, Hanks voices the boy's older self as he recites the storybook's final lines, explaining that the bell continued to ring for him even as its sound faded for those who stopped believing in Santa. A sequel could choose to focus on the boy's adulthood, where no shortage of existential and real-world anxieties might've begun to whittle away at his beliefs. Hanks could also reprise his role, lending the characteristic warmth that he brings to roles like Fred Rodgers in "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" by playing an elder version of the boy.

The story could also follow the Polar Express tracks somewhere beyond the snowy plains of Michigan or the United States in general focusing on a new group of children altogether. Regardless of the possibilities, a sequel would have to reckon with the fact it'd be going forward without any source material, so the more original the story the better. But while the wealth of Christmas lore and legends that could inform another train ride to the North Pole is endless, there has yet to be anything concrete announced about even a whisper of a sequel. So for now, fans will have to survive on replays of the original movie and hope for a Christmas miracle — while those who still find it a horrifying childhood memory can still rejoice that there's only one "Polar Express" with uncanny-valley animation in the world.