A sequel to "Ghost Rider" may happen sooner than you think - with or without Nicolas Cage.
Sony Pictures, who produced the 2007 film, owns the rights to the Marvel Comics character so long as they keep using said character on film. It's a contract clause which forces Fox, Sony, Universal and Lionsgate to keep putting out films featuring the likes of the X-Men, Spider-Man, Punisher, Hulk, Fantastic Four and Daredevil or the rights revert back to Marvel who'd be more than happy to have them back.
Now, Vulture reports that the rights to 'Rider' will revert back to Marvel late this year unless Sony gets into production on a sequel by no later than November 14th. It's a tricky scenario as the first film was a critical disaster and a costly $110 million to produce. Yet despite a lack of audience familiarity with the character, it made a decent $228 million worldwide.
A large part of that success wasn't the character but rather Cage's appeal. Thus his involvement in the project is of major importance. Cage's schedule however may not be clear before the deadline as Disney wants him for a third "National Treasure" film which could begin production as early as this Fall.
The 'Rider' sequel is also simply not ready yet - Scott Gimple and Seth Hoffman have turned in a draft of the script which Sony has out to several potential directors, but that's still along way from being locked in.
Sony could use the film to shore up a rather quiet 2011 schedule and is apparently asking for an extension on the deadline, something that it's unlikely to get. No studio wants to lose a property to a rival who could make it much more profitable, so the question now is will they proceed without Cage? More as it develops.