Edge of Tomorrow, Spectre, Black Mass, Get On Up and Fair Game ranged from good to excellent with an average RT score of 77%. They are the the most recent films that Jez Butterworth has screenwriting credit on.
He is one of four writers listed by IMDb for Cruella, but not one of the two given credit for the screenplay. Nevertheless, Disney was obviously very pleased with his contributions.
It is interesting that IMDb now lists Linda Woolverton simply as a writer for Maleficent 2 without any "screenplay by" credit. It means Woolverton gets credited for creating the characters, but the sequel is an original script written entirely by Butterworth.
We don't know when Butterworth started work on the script, but the fact that Angelina has formally signed on indicates she likes whatever he has written so far. She would have required at a minimum, a script she can get behind before deciding to fully commit to the sequel.
Butterworth's output suggests he works fast so they may have a final shooting draft in time to start production early next year. They have a few months to find a suitable director.
Guillermo Del Toro is a long-time fan of Maleficent dating from the animated Sleeping Beauty and had previously expressed interest in directing the earlier film. If they can swing it now, it would be fantastic.
From 6 years ago:
June 20, 2011 2:28 p.m.
So, Guillermo del Toro, want to direct ‘Maleficent’? ‘I would love to’
... But when Hero Complex contributor Gina McIntyre spoke to the filmmaker... she couldn’t resist asking him about “Maleficent,” the retelling of “Sleeping Beauty” from the vantage point of the sinister green witch who transforms into a majestic black and purple dragon that Disney has in the works.
So, given Del Toro’s appreciation of classic Disney villains and dragons, maybe he would be interested in the job?
“Let me put it this way, if they ask I’ll take the meeting,” Del Toro said, speaking by phone from Toronto. “I think Maleficent’s dragon is the only design with the wings separate from the front legs, the only time that design has ever worked. And let me tell you how much of a fan I am. I have a collection of over two or three dozen Maleficent figures, some of them four or five feet tall. I own about 10 pieces of conceptual art from ‘Sleeping Beauty’ that include the dragon and a lot more pieces that are just from ‘Sleeping Beauty.’ It’s one of my three favorite Disney films. I would love to. But I don’t want to put too many hopes on it. They’re probably on a fast track and I cannot take any more projects on a fast track. ”
Del Toro was an executive producer of the Kung Fu Panda films so they likely already know each other.
And they may bump into each other in Telluride.
After working with him on Cruella, Disney has hired Jez Butterworth to rewrite the script for MALEFICENT 2, the Tracking Board has exclusively learned.EXCLUSIVE: Angelina Jolie's MALEFICENT 2 moves forward, as Disney hires Jez Butterworth (SPECTRE) to rewrite script. https://t.co/BStC2pxUlW pic.twitter.com/fydQdWKDxF— Jeff Sneider (@TheInSneider) August 29, 2017
Joe Roth is producing the sequel, which will see Angelina Jolie reprise her role as the iconic Sleeping Beauty villain. Maleficent scribe Linda Woolverton wrote the initial draft of the screenplay.
Plot details remain unknown at this time, and any potential release date would depend on Jolie’s schedule.
Butterworth has written numerous studio movies including the James Bond film Spectre, the Tom Cruise vehicle Edge of Tomorrow, the Johnny Depp crime drama Black Mass, the James Brown biopic Get On Up and the Valerie Plame drama Fair Game. He’s also an acclaimed playwright who most recently co-created the upcoming Amazon series Brittania, which stars David Morrissey, Kelly Reilly and Mackenzie Crook.
Butterworth is represented by CAA and attorney Alan Wertheimer.