Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Disney doesn’t release Real Steel until Oct. 7, but already DreamWorks is getting the machinery moving on a sequel to the Shawn Levy-directed drama that stars Hugh Jackman. I’m told the studio has commissioned John Gatins, who scripted the first film, to start on the second installment. It’s unusual to see that occur so early, but I can recall it happening when Warner Bros commissioned a Hangover sequel after early tests showed the movie was going to be a big hit. Development on the sequel’s just getting under way, and deals will have to be made with Jackman and Levy. Gatins is repped by UTA.

DreamWorks has gotten strong response to internal screenings of the film, and at a CinemaCon presentation of footage in Las Vegas. The film is a Rocky-meets-Transformers tale of a prize fighter whose pugilistic skills are rendered obsolete when human boxers are replaced by robots. The fighter (Jackman) becomes a boxing promoter and finds a discarded robot that wins and wins. The fighter also discovers he has a 13-year old son, who comes along for the ride as the robot heads toward the top against scary competition. The film is based on a short story by Richard Matheson (who, aside from writing the novel I Am Legend, also scripted DreamWorks partner and Real Steel exec producer Steven Spielberg’s directing debut Duel). Real Steel is produced by Angry Films’ Don Murphy and Susan Montford and Levy, with Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey exec producing.