The Rocketeer may have come and gone through theaters in a flash in the summer of 1991, but it still retains a cult following a decade-and-a-half later. (Director Kevin Smith even owns one of the film’s original jetpacks and snuck it into the setdressing of his comedy Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back.) Adapted by Walt Disney Studios from the independent comic book series created by Dave Stevens, the movie starred Billy Campbell as a young 1930s pilot who finds a jet pack invented by Howard Hughes and uses it to fight mobsters and Nazis.
Filled to the rim with a love for its pulp thrills roots, the movie barely registered when it was released. (At the time, it had been scheduled to have a Roger Rabbit cartoon short attached to it, which would have drawn more people to the theater, except that the short was pulled by Spielberg, co-producer of the Roger Rabbit shorts, who was having a disagreement with Disney at the time.) Any talk of a potential sequel, and there’s always talk of a potential sequel when a film comes out, pretty much died right then.
Campbell still says that he loves the film, and recently told MTV Movie Blogs that he would welcome a chance to strap on the leather jacket, art deco helmet and jetpack once more to soar into a sequel.
I was talking to [writer] Dave Stevens just the night before last. We always talked about having a sequel. [Unfortunately] the movie didn’t make as much money as Disney had hoped and that coupled with the acrimonious relationship that the director [Joe Johnston] and the studio had contributed to them not even considering it… I’ve always wished for a sequel to The Rocketeer. I thought that would have been really neat. It could have been great.
But would Disney be amenable to having another go at the franchise if the film’s other, now higher-profile, stars – Jennifer Connelly, Alan Arkin (both Oscar winners now) and Terry O’Quinn – were to return?
I think the question really is, is the public clamoring for period-set, pulp-flavored adventure? That may be answered this summer with the release of Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skulls and The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor.