Lionsgate and Black Label Media are inching towards production on Soldado, which is to be a sequel to the 2015 Academy Award-nominated drama.

Sicario, directed by Denis Villeneuve, followed Emily Blunt's FBI agent character Kate and her conflicting journey that descended into the intrigue, corruption and moral mayhem of the borderland drug wars. In the controversial border zone stretching between the United States and Mexico, Kate is exposed to the brutal world of international drug trafficking by members of a government task force who have enlisted her in their plan to take out a Mexican cartel boss. Sicario also starred Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin.

According to Deadline, the new film is based on a script by Taylor Sheridan which will be titled Soldado, the Spanish word for soldier. Soldado will centre on Benicio's character Alejandro Gillick and Josh's CIA agent Matt Graver, who in the first film are hellbent on hunting down cartel kingpins.

It has also been reported that Emily is not expected to return for the sequel. She's headed into a very different role, with Walt Disney Pictures confirming this week (01Jun16) that she'll play the title role in the upcoming Mary Poppins Returns, which is set for release in December 2018.

French-Canadian moviemaker Denis will also not be returning to the follow-up, as his schedule has become too packed. Instead, Italian director Stefano Sollima is now the front-runner to helm the new film and is currently in talks with the studios. Stefano has made a number of gritty crime thrillers but is best known for directing the Italian miniseries Gomorra and the feature Suburra.

Sicario is being produced by Basil Iwanyk, Black Label’s Molly Smith and Thad and Trent Luckinbill as well as Edward MCDonnell. The current timeline puts production starting in the fall, with Soldado set to be released in 2017.