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The Maze Runner was director Wes Ball’s first crack at the bestselling YA novels from author James Dashner, and while I enjoyed it quite a bit despite its faults, the film didn’t have much of a Big Bad to root against, outside of Will Poulter’s Gally. The villain ante is getting upped for The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials, and Temple Hill has landed Games of Thrones star Aiden Gillen for the part. I hope you guys enjoy getting really aggravated with this guy.
SPOILER ALERT if you haven’t seen or read The Scorch Trials yet!
Assuming this second film, which Ball is also directing, adheres to the basic plot of the novel, the survivors of the Maze are taken into a world completely ravaged by a plague of miserable and deadly heat. Solar flares have made the planet largely a wasteland, and Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), Minho (Ki Hong Lee), and the rest are brought to a place where mysterious things happen.
Part of that mystery revolves around the bureaucratic Rat Man, which is the role that Gillen will be taking on. And here’s where we might veer away from how the story is told in the novel. Rat Man, real name A.D. Janseo, doesn’t really make much of an appearance in The Scorch Trials, serving mainly to explain this next phase of the survivors’ lives to them, which are the titular Scorch Trials. The character doesn’t come into play in a major way until the third book, The Death Cure, so I wonder if they’ll be beefing up his role for Gillen to chew on, or if they’re just teasing the adventures that are coming, much like the twisty, exposition-heavy cameo from Emmy winner Patricia Clarkson in the first film.
It was another good showing at the box office for The Maze Runner, which pulled in around $17.5 million for its second week. It was just above Laika’s extraordinary new stop-motion animated film The Boxtrolls, but took in almost exactly half as much as the new weekend king The Equalizer. (That movie hasn’t gotten nearly the same amount of positive buzz as its underlings.) Combined with its excellent international earnings, The Maze Runner has currently taken in $148.7 million on a $34 million pre-marketing budget. That’s huge, and proves that these movies don’t need to cost that much in order to win over audiences and pull a tidy profit.
Gillen is a good draw, too, as he’s generally a winner in everything he stars in. (The Wire!) He can currently be seen in John Michael McDonagh’s darkly comedic drama Calvary, and later in Simon Blake’s upcoming thriller Still. It’ll still be a while before we witness his return to Game of Thrones next year.
The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials is scheduled to begin production near the end of October. Get in the shade and keep your eyes and ears perked for more casting news in the coming weeks.