Sony's Stage 6 Films is currently developing a sequel to the 2018 "Screenlife" mystery thriller, Searching, it has been confirmed. The studio has tapped directing duo Will Merrick & Nick Johnson to make their directorial debut on Searching 2, which will tell a brand-new story from the original, with a completely different set of characters. The duo previously worked with Searching director Aneesh Chaganty on his recent suspense thriller, Run, as well as on the original Searching.
Filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov, who is best known for the movies Night Watch and Day Watch along with comic book flicks Wanted and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, will produce the project. The Searching franchise will likely not be Bekmambetov final foray into Screenlife, with the director and producer reportedly cooking up plans for even more movies using the same format.
While plot details for Searching 2 remain under wraps it "will feature a new set of characters and an evolved Screenlife thriller format where the story plays out on the screens of the characters' devices." Directed by Aneesh Chaganty in his feature debut, the first Searching stars Star Trek's John Cho as distressed father David Kim, who is trying to find his missing 16-year-old daughter, Margot (Michelle La), with the help of a police detective (Debra Messing). David files a police complaint in order to find his daughter, however, a string of hidden truths unravels when he checks her laptop. Set entirely on computer screens and smartphones, the movie uses the likes of video calling and instant messages to tell the story, a method that has now been dubbed "Screenlife".
"With such restrictive visual parameters, a movie like Searching 2 requires a fresh visual style to separate it from the original," Aneesh Chaganty said in a statement. "I've contributed what I can to this growing sub-genre. But if there's anyone on the planet with the potential to take it even further, it's Nick and Will, who were there from the beginning."
"Searching is so far the most successful movie shot in the Screenlife format and the sequel is set to become a new milestone," Bekmambetov added. "What seemed like an experimental technique a few years ago has been given a momentum now with more and more industry professionals turning to this digital filmmaking technique."
"On Searching, Will and Nick pioneered a new visual language and pushed the boundaries of what editors could contribute to a film," producer Natalie Qasabian said. "We are lucky and beyond excited to be working with them in their new roles as writers and directors on the sequel."
Searching was a financial and critical success upon release, grossing over $75 million worldwide against an $880,000 budget and receiving praise for its direction, acting, unique visual presentation and unpredictable storyline. While the movie is not the first, or even the last, example of the use of "Screenlife", it is certainly the best use of the technique so far and manages to avoid simply being a gimmick thanks to its genuinely compelling story and a grounded central performance from John Cho. This comes to us courtesy of Deadline.