For nearly three decades, Michael Mann’s Heat has stood out as a celebrated crime epic – a three-hour cat-and-mouse colossus with stunning performances from Al Pacino and Robert De Niro as cop Vincent Hanna and criminal Neil McCauley, respectively. Now, all these years later, Mann is back with an immediate follow-up – it’s even called Heat 2† It may not be in the format you expect. His sequel will be published as a novel later this summer, taking place both after and before the film in a Godfather Part II sequel prequel structure, largely focused on Hanna and Chris Shiherlis (the character played in the film by Val Kilmer). But while Heat 2 comes first as a book, Mann . says Empire that he very much intends to make it for the big screen as well.
“It’s completely planned to be a movie,” Mann says in an important new interview in the upcoming Avatar: The way of the water matter. He’s aware that a cinematic version would be quite an undertaking – and while he ventured into the serialized territory this year Tokyo Vice series, he doesn’t see it Heat 2 as a proposition on a small screen. “Is it a modest film? No. Is it a very expensive series? No,” he says. “It’s going to be one big movie.”
There are only a few bottlenecks. First, De Niro and Kilmer wouldn’t be able to reprise their roles (“I love those guys, but they should be six years younger than they were in Heat† Plus, it should be able to succeed in today’s Hollywood landscape. But Mann is confident in the staying power of the 1995 original. “It’s supported in the culture,” he reasons. ‘It is known. I could be fooling myself into thinking the whole world knows about it, but if you watch its fame in home videos for over 20 years, this thing really has legs. People still watch it, people still talk about it. It’s a brand. It’s kind of Heat universe, in a sense. And that certainly justifies a very big ambitious film.”
But for now, fans may get stuck on the page in August. “The ability to dive deep into the internal world is fascinating, and you can do that best in a novel,” says Mann, explaining the book-first approach. “I try to evoke that experience in the films I make, to situate the audience in a character’s inner world. The new shape gives me an even bigger arena.” Stay tuned to see if the movie version picks up on anything, well, heat the coming years.
Read Empirethe full Michael Mann interview in the Avatar: The way of the water edition, for sale from Thursday 7 July and can be ordered online here. Mann’s Heat 2 novel – co-written with Meg Gardiner – will be released on August 18.