When it bounced around multiple release dates before finally falling on the schedule for a February 2018 theatrical release, the general assumption was that ‘Annihilation,’ the sci-fi film directed by Alex Garland and based on the Jeff Van Der Meer book of the same name, didn’t earn the confidence of distribution company Paramount of being a “good” film that would please audiences. Indeed, Paramount execs asked for the film’s tone to be made lighter and the ending to be changed, following a poor test screening, but producer Scott Rudin defended Garland and the film, and no changes were made. In response, Paramount elected to release the film theatrically only in the United States and Canada, and struck a deal with Netflix to distribute the movie worldwide elsewhere.
‘Annihilation’ essentially broke even at the box office, making $42 million against a reported budget of $40 million – but the film received high praise from critics and audiences alike. This sort of favorable reception usually bodes well for the idea of a sequel for a movie, but it’s possible that Garland’s experience with Paramount soured the director on wanting to return; this, in addition to the fact he has never been a sequel-seeking director to begin with. In a recent interview, when asked about a follow-up film he stated fairly unequivocally:
“I’ve got no objection to someone else doing that, but I’m not interested in the idea of a sequel. I feel like we made this movie and this is the movie we made.
“When the thing is done, I am done with it. I instantly start moving on, so I don’t even have an opinion on an ‘Annihilation’ sequel. All the way through I was clear with everyone, from the studio to the cast, I told everyone that I didn’t really see it as part of a franchise. My goal was to make this film and do the best job I can. I didn’t even conceptualize it as the start of a trilogy. Sequels are just not something I’m interested in doing. It’s like when you don’t like steak, you don’t make the decision not to eat steak, you just don’t eat steak. I just don’t do sequels.”
For his part, it’s clear that Garland was heavily invested in the creation of the film and the response it elicited in both viewers and critics, with the latter even drawing comparisons between Garland and legendary genre directors:
“‘Annihilation’ was a very kind of internal, intuitive kind of filmmaking. There were pieces I read that people had written about the nature of self-destruction and depression and these kinds of internal collapses, and for me those were very effective on many levels. One of them was just a huge sense of release. That some of the non-overt structure of the film hand landed with people, that affected me. You never know if that’s going to be the case.
“I somehow felt like I was told it wasn’t going to work for everyone and so when it did, I was genuinely surprised. I was truly taken aback by it. It was kind of amazing and moving to tell you the truth. You can’t take the comparisons to Kubrick or Tarkovsky seriously, but the people talking about the way it related to a very personal aspect of their life or their psychology, now that was very powerful for me.”
‘Annihilation’ is now available in the US on streaming and home-video release.