Richard Donner's recent passing likely means we'll never see Lethal Weapon 5 or The Goonies 2. Donner, whose many other key credits include helming Superman and The Omen, was very well known as the director of the Lethal Weapons movies and The Goonies. Sadly, Donner died this week at the age of 91, and given his plans to soon return to the director's chair, the news came as a big shock for many fans.
During his career, Donner had directed Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in four Lethal Weapon movies. For years, he had wanted to do a fifth installment, and this was something many of the fans wanted to see as well. In 2018, Donner appeared to be making some traction with the project, even unveiling its official title as Lethal Finale. At the start of 2020, it was reported that Lethal Weapon 5 was in active development with Gibson and Glover both set to return.
Donner personally provided a major update on the project in December 2020, with the 90-year-old confirming his intentions to direct the movie himself. He hadn't directed a movie since 2006's 16 Blocks, and Donner was hoping for Lethal Weapon 5 to also serve as his last movie before retirement. Sadly, we know now this dream would never be realized, though it's unclear exactly how far along into pre-production the planned sequel was at the time of Donner's death.
"This is the final one. It's both my privilege and duty to put it to bed. It's exciting, actually... Hahaha! It's the last one, I'll promise you that," the filmmaker previously told The Daily Telegraph.
Meanwhile, the long-gestating The Goonies 2 might be officially toast without Donner's involvement. For many, many years, Donner and the original cast members alike had all expressed an interest in continuing the story, though they consistently had trouble getting Warner Bros. to agree. By 2010, Donner was more optimistic about the sequel, claiming that The Goonies 2 was a "definite thing" in the documentary The Making of a Cult Classic: The Making of a Cult Classic, confidently adding that "it will happen."
Of course, the possibility is always there for another filmmaker to pick up where Richard Donner left off with these planned sequels. The obvious problem is that the movies just simply won't be the same without Donner at the helm. Lethal Finale would have been a great movie for Donner to have as a bookend for his career, and in some ways, doing the movie without him may not feel quite right. It's also worth pointing out that getting the project made with Donner on board was hard enough, and it's a much harder sell without him.
As for The Goonies 2, it started to become more apparent that this sequel was never going to happen either, even before Donner's passing. In May, Corey Feldman claimed that the sequel was "dead" in an interview with Dread Central. The former child star explained that the original cast wouldn't be interested in doing the project without Donner, and because Donner said Lethal Finale would be his last movie, The Goonies 2 was no longer a possibility.
"I don't know what the hell it is. But all I know is that when I found out my dear friend Richard Donner had signed on to do Lethal Weapon 5 as his swan song, well that pretty much sewed up the rumor mill right there. It's done. We can't make [The Goonies 2] without [Donner]. And [Donner's] off shooting guns with the Lethal Weapon people," Feldman said.
He added: "And that is the shame of it. Because, just like when we did the [cast reunions] last year, I mean it doesn't matter how many grey hairs everybody's got on their faces, the love is still there. And the family feeling is still there. And I know that secretly, each of us weeps at night wishing that there was that magical [The Goonies 2] script landing on our doorstep the next day. But unfortunately and sadly, it still has not arrived."
Many fans will be saddened about Lethal Weapon 5 and The Goonies 2 going by the wayside. Others can just as easily argue that Donner's work on the original movies in those franchises still shine just as brightly as ever even without those planned sequels, as unfortunate as it might be that we'll never see them. Nothing can ever take away from Donner's incredible legacy as a filmmaker, though we can't fault the fans for hoping to have seen just a little more from the acclaimed director. Rest in peace, Richard Donner.