The elegiac title and murderous conclusion of "The Departed" may have signaled a brutal, blood-red finality, but in Hollywood any potential franchise can be revived by a strong enough dose of green.
"The Departed" is by far director Martin Scorsese's biggest hit, with a gross of over $260 million worldwide - a number bound to escalate if the intricate thriller wins an Oscar next month for best picture (one of its five Academy Award nominations). And so sources close to the first film say that Bill Monahan, who also received a nod for his "Departed" screenplay last week, has begun working out a potential take that would extend a connected storyline and involve some of the same characters.
Of course, given the slaughter that terminates "The Departed," there aren't a whole lot of characters left to pursue. This is the same dilemma faced by the creators of "Infernal Affairs," the popular 2002 Hong Kong thriller written by Alan Mak and Felix Chong upon which Monahan's "Departed" script was based. Mak, Chong, and co-director Andrew Lau got around it by making their follow-up a prequel, thus allowing the first film's stars to reprise their roles (Mak, Chong, and Lau made a third in the series, too, that split its story around the events of the first film).
According to the sources, Monahan is not taking the prequel route and is instead developing a wholly original continuation of the story. Best supporting actor nominee Mark Wahlberg recently told MTV that the filmmakers have discussed bringing in Scorsese's classic gangster muse Robert De Niro to play a role.
Though Scorsese has never made a sequel to one of his films (his 1974 drama, "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore," spawned the diner sitcom, "Alice," though he had nothing to do with it), the Oscar-nominated director did make "The Color of Money," a sequel to Robert Rossen's "The Hustler," back in 1986. Monahan, who sources say began thinking of ways to continue the Boston cops-and-gangsters saga back in 2005 when production wrapped, recently tread further into sequel territory with a draft of "Jurassic Park IV."
Warner Bros., which released "The Departed," had no comment.