Although an animated prequel series titled Gremlins: Secrets of Mogwai is being developed for the HBO Max streaming service, a third live-action feature-film in the GREMLINS franchise had been in the works for a number of years before it was ultimately shelved just years ago. Original GREMLINS writer Chris Columbus was involved, as was screenwriter Carl Ellsworth (DISTURBIA), who spoke with ComingSoon about the project which he had collaborated on with Columbus.
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“The last time I touched it is now going on three years ago,” Ellsworth told CS. “I was so excited to do it. I got the chance to work with Chris, and I loved the story we came up with. I’m so bummed that it hasn’t seen the light of day yet. What might have been, what could have been!” The third film would have returned to the spirt of the original and would have featured much less of the live-action cartoon antics of GREMLINS: THE NEW BATCH, but it also would have seen the return of Zach Galligan‘s Billy, Phoebe Cates‘ Kate, and, of course, Gizmo.
I became friendly along the way with Zach Galligan, the original Billy Peltzer, and he was so eager to return to the role. He was excited, I guess, by the idea that he and Gizmo should be the equivalent of Han Solo and Chewie in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And he wasn’t too far off from where we were going. There was, I believe, a smaller role for Billy’s girlfriend, played [in the first two movies] by Phoebe Cates.
At the end of the day, Ellsworth said that Gizmo would be “at the very core of the story” as it would have “explored more of the mythology and the history of the Gremlins.” Although there was plenty of enthusiasm about the project, Ellsworth said that his script for GREMLINS 3 was “one of those situations where it fell through the cracks, or they couldn’t put it together—who knows what happened?” Ellsworth doesn’t know what’s going on with the GREMLINS project these days, but he still hopes that something happens with it down the line.
As for Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, the ten-episode animated series will be set in 1920s Shanghai and tell the tale of how 10-year-old Sam Wing (the elderly shop-keeper from the two live-action movies) met the young Mogwai named Gizmo. “Along with a teenage street thief named Elle, Sam and Gizmo take a perilous journey through the Chinese countryside, encountering, and sometimes battling, colorful monsters and spirits from Chinese folklore,” reads the synopsis. “On their quest to return Gizmo to his family and uncover a legendary treasure, they are pursued by a power-hungry industrialist and his growing army of evil Gremlins.” The series is expected to debut on HBO Max in 2021.