‘Law Abiding Citizen’: Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx Are Returning for a Sequel 13 Years After the Action Film Premiered

It looks like a Law Abiding Citizen cinematic universe could be on its way. More than a decade after Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx starred in the original action-thriller, a sequel has been greenlit following a hot streak on Netflix.

Although details about the movie are sparse, Butler will produce and original screenwriter Kurt Wimmer will write the script, lining up another helping of bloody revenge for action crowds.

‘Law Abiding Citizen’ was a surprise hit in 2009

With shades of Charles Bronson’s 1974 hit Death Wish, Law Abiding Citizen resonated with adult audiences when it hit theaters in the fall of 2009. The movie tells the revenge tale of Clyde Shelton (Butler), an engineer who witnesses the grisly murder of his wife and daughter. Making matters even worse, the prosecution is botched and the main perpetrator is released after an unacceptably short prison stint.

Without knowing it, the assistant district attorney (Jamie Foxx) has unleashed a highly trained vigilante no longer interested in playing by the rules. Like the ’70s films that largely created the revenge-fantasy genre, Law Abiding Citizen brings the audience along for a bloody, B-movie-style thrill ride.

Although critics mostly ripped it to shreds (it has a 25% score on Rotten Tomatoes), audiences were much more forgiving of the F. Gary Gray action flick. In theaters, Law Abiding Citizen posted strong overall numbers despite being far from a blockbuster. As Forbes points out, its $22 million domestic debut was a decent pull for a $50 million R-rated production.

Crucially, Law Abiding Citizen also hung in there in subsequent weeks; it didn’t post a weekend-over-weekend drop greater than 41% for more than a month, which is a sign of a very strong audience connection (via Box Office Mojo). Law Abiding Citizen would end up making $128 million worldwide, enough to make it a hit but not enough to make a sequel a no-brainer.

How a ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ Sequel came together

Similar to how VHS rentals changed the game for cult hit The Shawshank Redemption, the secondary market brought audiences back around to Law Abiding Citizen. This time, however, it didn’t happen for more than a decade. Per Deadline, Law Abiding Citizen became one of the most streamed movies on Netflix last December, trailing only Red Notice and The Unforgivable.

While the first Law Abiding Citizen may have ridden the coattails of action-thriller Taken, one of the breakout hits of 2008, the genre has never been more popular. Lone-wolf thrillers like John Wick and The Equalizer have each launched successful franchises, following in the footsteps of Charles Bronson’s Death Wish series and the three installments of Taken.

But sequels that come well after the original don’t exactly guarantee commercial success. While Top Gun: Maverick was a stunning success to kick off the summer, other sequels have struggled to find their intended audience.

Men in Black: International (2019) and Independence Day: Resurgence both landed shy of commercial expectations, as did Denis Villeneuve’s critically beloved Blade Runner: 2049. Viewers met tough-guy remakes like Total Recall (also written by Wimmer) and Death Wish with minimal fanfare from audiences.

Key questions hang over the ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ sequel

Actors Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx attend the "Law Abiding Citizen" after party in 2009
Law Abiding Citizen stars Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx in 2009 | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Overture

Although it’s too early to know much, producer Lucas Foster isn’t lacking in confidence about what they have in store for action fans. In the Deadline interview, Foster called the premise “even more relevant today” and teased a shock-and-awe marketing strategy, saying, “We’re going to blow your mind … again.”

Lucas was happy to announce the return of Wimmer, whom he previously worked with on the 2002 Christian Bale thriller Equilibrium.

But there are a couple of big question marks that will likely define the type of release the Law Abiding Citizen sequel ultimately gets. At the top of the list: where are Butler and Foxx? While Butler is at least on board as a producer at this point (per Outlook), there has been no mention of Foxx at all.

The same goes for director Gray, who went on to helm smash hits Straight Outta Compton and The Fate of the Furious. Although nothing has yet been confirmed, it’s easy to speculate that Foxx and Gray won’t be involved and that Butler is likely to stay behind the scenes.

Even without some of the key players, however, Law Abiding Citizen is a low-risk proposition for Village Roadshow Pictures and Rivulet Films, the two arms of the production team.

Without Butler and Foxx’s salaries, the sequel may cost much less than the $50 million it took to make the original—even when adjusting for inflation. With audience enthusiasm and a genre that has a proven roadmap of successful sequels, Law Abiding Citizen is a more logical choice for a sequel than first meets the eye.  

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