Is ‘Sherlock Holmes 3’ Still Happening? What We Know

We've got the scoop on the third 'Sherlock Holmes' movie, including when filming might begin, if Robert Downey Jr. is returning, and more.

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The Sherlock Holmes film series is based on the iconic fictional detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The first film was released on December 25, 2009, with Robert Downey Jr. starring as Sherlock Holmes and Jude Law starring as Dr. John Watson. It follows Sherlock and Dr. Watson trying to stop Lord Henry Blackwood (Mark Strong) from gaining control of Britain. The sequel, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, came out on December 16, 2011 with several returning cast members. The second movie sees Sherlock and Dr. Watson traveling across Europe to stop Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris) from starting a World War. Guy Ritchie directed both period mystery action films.

Sherlock Holmes
Robert Downey Jr. in ‘Sherlock Holmes’ (Photo: Everett Collection)

A third film in the Sherlock Holmes franchise has been in the works for over a decade. But the plans have stalled, due to several factors, and Sherlock Holmes 3 has not even begun filming yet. The good news is Robert Downey has room in his schedule after saying goodbye to his role as Iron-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe after 2019’s Avengers: Endgame. Since then, he’s filmed the upcoming 2023 movie Oppenheimer which is about creating the nuclear weapons that ended World War II.

Below, HollywoodLife has rounded up everything you need to know about Sherlock Holmes 3. Find out if the movie is still happening and the possible spinoffs that are rumored to be in the works!

Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes (Photo: Everett Collection)

Is Sherlock Holmes 3 Still Happening?

The script for the third Sherlock Holmes movie was being written by Drew Pearce (who wrote Iron-Man 3) in late October 2011, but Drew was replaced by Justin Haythe. After five years passed, Warner Bros. and Team Downey, which is Robert and his wife Susan Downey‘s production company, put together a writers’ room to work on the third film. In May 2018, Warner Bros. announced that Sherlock Holmes 3 would be released in theaters on December 25, 2020, with Robert Downey, Jude Law, and Paul Anderson, who played Sebastian Moran in the second film, returning in their respective roles. Chris Brancato was tapped to write the script.

The following year, Warner Bros. pushed the release date back to December 22, 2021. A few months later, it was announced that Dexter Fletcher, who directed the Elton John biopic Rocketman, would be replacing Guy Ritchie to helm Sherlock Holmes 3. Once the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, the film’s release date was delayed indefinitely and there’s still been no update and when we should expect to see it come out.

In April 2022, Variety reported that Team Downey is working on two television spinoffs of the Sherlock Holmes film franchise. Each show would focus on a new character that would be introduced in Sherlock Holmes 3, per the report. There’s been no confirmation about the spinoffs beyond the initial report from Variety.

Who Is Behind the Scenes on Sherlock Holmes 3?

Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes (Photo: Everett Collection)

The entire cast and crew for Sherlock Holmes 3 have not been officially announced. Guy Ritchie directed the first two Sherlock Holmes movies, but he’s been replaced by Dexter Fletcher for the third film. Dexter spoke about how the pandemic “derailed” Sherlock Holmes 3 in a June 2022 interview with Collider.

“I do think it will get made. I think it has to be made. I don’t know what the timeline of that is, unfortunately, but I believe it should be,” Dexter said. “It’s fantastic. I think it’s about all the right people being at the right place, at the right time. I think it’s that. It’s one of those cruel twists of fate, where the pandemic hit and that scattered people around the world to the wind. But I know that the appetite is huge for it, and I’m sure there are other people acutely aware of that as well. But I believe it should be because it’s brilliant. I very much hope so.”

From the first two movies, the behind-the-scenes crew included producers Joel SilverLionel Wigram and Dan Lin, cinematographer Philippe Rousselot, music composer Hans Zimmer, and editor James Herbert. It’s unclear if they’ll all return for Sherlock Holmes 3. Chris Brancato was the most recent person to be hired as screenwriter for the third film.

Who Will Be in the Cast of Sherlock Holmes 3?

When Warner Bros. announced Sherlock Holmes 3, they confirmed that Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law were returning as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, respectively. Paul Anderson was also confirmed to be returning as Sebastian Moran. Beyond that, there’s been no announcement about the returns of the other cast members from the first two films.

Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes (Photo: Everett Collection)

The original cast also included Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler, Yellowstone star Kelly Reilly as Mary Morstan, Eddie Marsan as Inspector Lestrade, and Geraldine James as Mrs. Hudson. They all returned for the second film, which also starred newcomers Jared Harris as Professor Moriarty, Stephen Fry as Mycroft Holmes, and Noomi Rapace as Madame Simza Heron.

Jude Law commented on Sherlock Holmes 3 way back in 2013, two years after the second film came out. “We had a meeting earlier this year, the three of us, and I think it’s being written now. Warner Bros. have still got to agree to pay for it… I think they want to!” he said at the time. Jude also said, “We want it to be better than the other two. We want to make sure it’s smarter and cleverer, but in the same realm. It’s a slow process. We’re all busy. So getting us together to try to nail that has taken a little bit longer than we had hoped… I hate celebrating anything I’ve done, but I’m so proud of those films.”

Sadly, there’s been no real progress made on Sherlock Holmes 3 in the last few years. Fans are keeping hope alive that they’ll see more of Sherlock’s adventures on the big screen. Hopefully we’ll get even more from the franchise with those two spinoffs! HollywoodLife will continue to keep you updated on Sherlock Holmes 3 right here.