When Netflix hired writer-director Robert Rodriguez to helm a new kid’s film in the vein of Spy Kids, they knew what they were doing. After all, Netflix had seen the data showing them the Spy Kids movies were hugely successful on the platform, with kids rewatching the films again and again. So, what better way to recreate the magic of those films than by hiring the filmmaker who made them to create a new movie franchise that Netflix owns?
In fact, last summer when Rodriguez was part of a “Directors on Directing” panel I hosted at Comic-Con, he told me that’s how it happened:
“My most rabid fanbase all these years, by far, has been my kid films. My Spy Kids audience. These kids watch those movies over and over because they’re action films made for children and families, in particular at a time when they need empowerment. Netflix came to me because the Spy Kids movies had done just so well on their service. They said ‘Could you make a series of films that do that?’ And I said, ‘I’d love to!’
Cut to Rodriguez writing and directing We Can Be Heroes and having it premiere to huge numbers on Netflix last December. The film was such a hit that not even two weeks after it premiered, Netflix announced plans for a We Can Be Heroes sequel.
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Since that announcement, news has been nonexistent about We Can Be Heroes 2, including when it might be filming and if Rodriguez would return to direct or pass it on to someone else. So when I spoke to him the other day about co-directing the Billie Eilish cinematic concert experience Happier Than Ever: A Love Letter to Los Angeles for Disney+, I asked him if he would be directing the sequel and if it would film next year. He said:
“Oh, absolutely. I love making those films. They’re so creative. The adults have a great time too. Most of the adults in the cast had kids too that couldn’t watch any of their movies. So it’s a great building of a world. My own children work on the films. So it’s like a family affair. It’s family time. You’re making products for other families, and you’re checking all the boxes, living the best life.”
He then went on to talk about the success of the first film and how Netflix has never seen anything like it before:
“They’ve been shocked at how well it’s kept doing. They call it unstoppable. They’ve never seen any movie behave like that. It just will not stop. Kids will just not stop watching it. And I think it happened with the Spy Kid movies, but you couldn’t ever keep track of it, because you can’t tell how many times kids watch it on VCR or watch on Disney channel. But now with their metrics, they can tell how many times a household is watching something again and again, through completion. Which a lot of the times when it’s been a big opening weekend, it didn’t mean people actually watched the whole movie. It means they watched five minutes or more.
The completion rate was really high, but also the repeat rate was just off the charts, because kids just will watch it in the morning before school and after school every day. So yeah, they definitely want a sequel, which I’m working on, because it’s a new franchise for them. That behaves very differently. But kids crave empowerment and those movies just hit those buttons.”
Rodriguez is known for working fast so it really wouldn’t surprise me to see the We Can Be Heroes sequel on Netflix next year.
If you haven’t seen We Can Be Heroes, the film follows a group of children, all the offspring of the world’s biggest superheroes, who must come together to fight a group of alien invaders after the aforementioned intergalactic baddies take their parents as prisoners. The film stars Pedro Pascal, Priyanka Chopra, Christian Slater, Boyd Holbrook, Sung Kang, Adriana Barraza, Christopher McDonald, Taylor Dooley, Vivien Blair, and YaYa Gosselin.
Look for more from my interview with Robert Rodriguez on Collider soon.
Plus, how they filmed the shark sequence.
Steven Weintraub launched Collider in the summer of 2005. As Editor-in-chief, he has taken the site from a small bedroom operation to having millions of readers around the world. If you’d like to follow Steven on Twitter or Instagram, you can expect plenty of breaking news, exclusive interviews, and pictures of cats doing stupid things.