After Rewatching L.A. Confidential, I'm Even More Mad The Chadwick Boseman Sequel Never Happened

Guy Pearce pictured in L.A. Confidential, Chadwick Boseman pictured in 21 Bridges, and Russell Crowe pictured in L.A. Confidential, shown side by side.
(Image credit: Warner Bros. / STX Films)

There are some movies that no matter what format they’re available in or what platform they’re streaming on, I have to revisit from time to time. As 1997’s L.A. Confidential was recently added as part of the new on Hulu movie releases, I found myself revisiting director Curtis Hanson’s award-winning noir masterpiece yet again. While it was satisfying as always, my latest watch made me even more mad that we never got the proposed L.A. Confidential sequel starring Chadwick Boseman.

The brief knowledge of that potential follow-up's hook was enough to intrigue me, with the brilliance of one of the best '90s movies only further enraging me with the extended possibilities. So instead of raging this time, I'd like to take a look at the reasons for why L.A. Confidential 2 didn't happen, and where a sequel could have even began to fit into this criminal masterpiece.

Chadwick Boseman staring ahead in disbelief at a crime scene in 21 Bridges.

(Image credit: STX Films)

What Was Chadwick Boseman’s L.A. Confidential Sequel Supposed To Be About?

Yes, you read that correctly, L.A. Confidential 2 almost happened. Screenwriter Brian Helgeland dished the dirt on pieces of the concept in 2023, during his appearance at the Toronto International Film Festival. Reading about what it was supposed to cover is as upsetting as being reminded of the fact that the 1997 original is one of history's most notable Best Picture losers that deserved to win.

With Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce lined up to return, Chadwick Boseman was set to play a new detective in this ‘70s-set chapter. As if bringing back Officer Bud White and Detective Lieutenant Edmund Exley wasn’t enough of a lure, including the late Boseman in on the fun is too good of a prospect to turn down. 

Set against the backdrop of the Symbionese Liberation Army’s presence in L.A., Helgeland and author James Ellroy worked out “an elaborate pitch” for this project. I can practically see Chadwick Boseman butting heads with Russell Crowe, and maybe even Guy Pearce, as the legacy L.A. Confidential characters would be in very different places roughly 20 years after their last adventure.

Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce in L.A. Confidential

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Why An L.A. Confidential Sequel Never Happened

How does an iconic awards darling and noir favorite like L.A. Confidential fail to secure a sequel? Well, according to Brian Helgeland, the studios just weren’t biting. Netflix’s executive fell asleep during the pitch, and even Warner Bros, the studio that distributed the first installment, waved off the picture. 

The latter studio went as far as saying in its rejection, “We don’t make movies like this.” So Warner Bros., the studio that distributed L.A. Confidential, claimed through a representative that it didn't make movies like that. If you included an "anymore" at the end sentence, I might have accepted that sentiment a bit better. Especially when getting author James Ellroy on board for L.A. Confidential 2’s pitch felt like a miracle in and of itself. 

I say that because in an April 2023 appearance at The Los Angeles TimesBook Prizes, Ellroy shared the following criticism of director Curtis Hanson’s previous film: 

People love the movie ‘L.A. Confidential.’ I think it’s turkey of the highest form. … The director died, so now I can disparage the movie.

Apparently Curtis Hanson's passing in 2016 was enough to open the floodgates for James Ellroy, and the man didn't hold back. Ellroy also called Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe, and Kim Basinger's performances “impotent,” so to have two thirds of that cast committed to L.A. Confidential 2 could have resembled somewhat of a stumbling block. 

Yet, Ellroy was onboard with this new round, and Brian Helgeland’s revelations stated that he was enthusiastically involved with a potential sequel. The fact that it was lack of studio interest that killed this project, and not the prickly author's feelings on the previous film, is one of those twists I couldn't have seen coming. Which leads to how I think L.A. Confidential 2 would have found a way to work with the story from that previous film, while embarking on its own continuation.

Kevin Spacey and Guy Pearce question Robert Barry Fleming outside in L.A. Confidential.

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

How L.A. Confidential 2 Might Have Tied Into The First Film

Roughly 46 minutes into L.A Confidential  we see a scene between Lt. Ed Exley, Detective Sergeant Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey), and boxer Leonard Bidwell (Robert Barry Fleming). Bidwell is asked for information pertaining to the potential Nite Owl Massacre suspects, with Leonard offering up “Sugar” Ray Collins (Jeremiah Birkett) as their person of interest.

His reasoning was to potentially shave 10 years off of his brother’s sentence in Folsom Prison, which had him in jail until 1970. That's exactly the point I think L.A. Confidential 2 would have used to work its way into continuing this sprawling narrative. Depending on how old Leonard’s unnamed brother was when he went into prison, Chadwick Boseman could play that character after his early release in 1960, or another new character that was affected by the Bidwell family’s story. 

Boseman’s protagonist could have been inspired to become a cop in order to seek justice for a past wrong, much like Ed Exley was spurred on by his father’s unsolved murder. Using that thematic thread, L.A. Confidential 2 would have had its ties firmly connected to the past, further honing the themes of its well-beloved predecessor. 

Russell Crowe in L.A. Confidential

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Why I’m Mad We’ll Probably Never See L.A. Confidential 2

The whole point of L.A. Confidential’s central mystery was the notion that humans, and the systems they perpetuate, can’t let anything go. The Nite Owl Case is an enigma that made heroes out of cops, and helped keep Los Angeles’ star reputation as a City of Tomorrow shiny and clean. 

And yet, even the men who benefitted from that horrific night couldn’t let the truth stay buried; which almost killed Officer Bud White and “Shotgun Ed” Exley in the process. To make a sequel means that this notion could have been explored further, especially if Chadwick Boseman’s L.A. Confidential 2 character was going to play out as I’d described above. 

That wheel of fortune would keep turning with a new story set two decades in the future, in a city that wasn’t as rosy as it once was. Just think of what that means to a young cop who’s starting out, and the veteran cops that represent the higher rungs of authority in that world.

Asking questions like that kind of helps me understand how James Ellroy may have been on board for this potential sequel. His own L.A. Quartet of books focused on the same universe of characters shown in Confidential, the third of four installments. Not to mention that some figures, like Dudley Smith (James Cromwell), even recur in Ellroy’s overall continuum of stories. 

Nothing’s ever truly over in the world of James Ellroy’s L.A., so who knows what the future could bring? While I’m mad we probably won’t see L.A. Confidential 2, there could be a renewed interest of sorts in the film with its easy availability on streaming. That sort of support could turn this unmade sequel into a thrilling prospect executives would have to stay awake for, otherwise they'd miss out.

Not only is L.A. Confidential available for you to view with a Hulu subscription, it’s also still streaming on the Netflix library. Plus, it's even available on YouTube for free with ads at the time of this publication. So there's no shortage of ways audiences can experience this noir crime classic for themselves.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.