According to Missing producer Sev Ohanian, Black Panther director Ryan Coogler played a hand in the Searching sequel making its way to theaters.
Black Panther director Ryan Coogler played a part in getting Missing made. Missing is a sequel to 2018’s Searching, a story about a father trying to find his missing daughter. However, Missing works as a stand-alone sequel, not relying on prior characters and continuing things via the themes and filmmaking conceits of the first film, like telling the story through a computer screen. Instead, the sequel follows June, whose mother, Grace, disappears while on vacation in Colombia, leading her to utilize all the technology at her fingertips to track her down. Storm Reid stars as June, with Nia Long playing Grace, alongside Amy Landecker and Joaquim de Almeida.
Following an early screening of Missing, Collider held a Q&A session with some of the cast and crew. When asked about making a sequel, producer Sev Ohanian was very candid about how they never intended on making a follow-up to Searching, but the studio was interested in more. However, in a moment of pure happenstance, Black Panther director Ryan Coogler overheard a studio call about a sequel. According to Ohanian, it was Coogler who helped motivate them to make the film. Check out Ohanian’s comments on Coogler’s influence on Missing below:
… no, we will never make a sequel. So the honest-to-god answer is, I got a call from Sony a couple of months after the movie came out, and they were like, “You guys ready? Let’s do Searching 2. John Cho goes after someone else who’s missing.” We were like, “Maybe?” But, I was hesitant. I think for us, we really were proud of that film, and the whole team here had done such a great job on that. I remember I hung up the phone and I happened to be working right next to a good friend of mine who’s a director himself, a guy named Ryan Coogler who directed Black Panther.
This is a 100% true story. I remember I hung up the phone and he saw me laughing and he was like, “What was that?” I was like, “Dude, Sony wants to make a sequel to Searching.” And his reaction was like, “Dude! Hell, yeah!” And I was like, “I don’t know, man. I’ve got to talk to Nat. I got to talk to Aneesh.” I was like, “Maybe we don’t do this.” I remember he looked at me, right in my eyes, and he was like, “If anyone can make a sequel to that film, it’s you guys.” So he was like, “Y’all have to do it.” I called these guys, they had the same initial reaction as me. Then we were like, “Who’s gonna direct it?” And then we realized we have the greatest directors right there. Then we started ideating on what could the sequel be?
How Missing Sets Itself Apart From Searching
Being a stand-alone sequel allows Missing to set itself apart from Searching. Both films tell their stories through a unique lens, framing the action with computer and phone screens as the audience watches webcams, text conversations, and news reports. This offers audiences a distinct way for the film to play out, putting the viewer into the frantic search along with the protagonist.
One of Missing‘s first significant changes is to shift focus on whom the audience follows. While Searching follows a father looking for his daughter, Missing tells the same basic story from the child’s perspective. While this may initially seem like a relatively small tweak, Searching saw John Cho’s David working with police, reaching out to people for information, and even making daring personal efforts to find the truth. When these actions are shifted to a teenager, it adds a new level of tension while possibly making it harder for Reid’s June to accomplish what she needs, with adults likely not giving her the same level of help.
Another choice the sequel makes is to change the distance between characters and locations. Searching saw someone go missing close to home, with the search relegated to the local area. However, Missing sees Grace disappear in Colombia, with June now dealing with the added hindrances of long distances and international red tape. While the first film made things intense when David was able to interact with law enforcement and family regularly, Missing will put its protagonist through a similar ordeal while removing those same options from June’s investigation. Therefore, while Missing is a stand-alone sequel, it looks to offer a new take on what was successful with Searching.