"Before Midnight" marks the follow-up film to the 1995 indie "Before Sunrise" and its 2004 sequel "Before Sunset." It follows the romance between an American writer (Ethan Hawke) and a French activist (Julie Delpy) who meet on a train in Vienna and reunite nearly a decade later in Paris. Set nine years after the events of "Before Sunset," the film follows the pair on a trip to Greece.
Gus Van Sant's "Death" Lars von Trier's "The Golden Heart" are considered thematic trilogies, but aside from the documentary "Paradise Lost," few indie films lead to trilogies. "Before Sunrise" grossed just $5 million -- a number that does not traditionally warrant one let alone two follow-ups.
In an October interview with the Los Angeles Times, Linklater, who included animated versions of Hawke and Delpy's characters in the 2001 drama "Waking Life," said that audience demand inspired him to develop a third film.
"With 'Before Sunset,' I felt like me, Ethan and Julie were the only ones who really wanted it,” he said. “But given how 'Before Sunset' ended, a lot of people would come up to me and ask about what happens next."
Last year, Hawke told Allocine that he was eager to reprise his role in the romance.
"I don't know what we're going to do, but I know the three of us have been talking a lot in the last six months," Hawke said. "All three of us have been having similar feelings that we're ready to revisit those characters. There's nine years between the first two movies, and, if we made the film next summer, it would be nine years again, so we've really started thinking that would be a good thing to do. We're going to try to write it this year."
"Before Sunset" ended with without making it clear whether the two would become romantically involved or go their separate ways. But as Linklater told Slate, “Whatever loose ends exist in the second film will fully be answered in the third.”
Linklater, Hawke and Delpy received Oscar nominations for penning the "Before Sunset" screenplay. The three also wrote "Before Midnight."
The Sundance Film Festival will run Jan. 17-27.