I remember when I first saw Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy — it was on the big screen opening dayin 2004, and as I fondly recall I laughed my ass off many times during that first viewing and then some. Then when the movie was released on DVD I bought it and began to watch it repeatedly. Soon Anchorman became one of my top five favorite comedies. It has become a signature movie in my life, a wonderful comedy loaded with memorable characters, hilarious gags, classic comedic set-pieces, and terrific dialogue that my friends and I never tire of quoting to each other. The movie was so great in fact that I seriously desired for a sequel to be made. That doesn’t usually happen much with comedies I love.
Action, science-fiction, and horror films easily lend themselves to being franchised, but franchising comedy is a much difficult prospect. But the principal cast and crew of Anchorman saw what a hilarious and special film they had made and sought for years to make a sequel, not out of the mercenary pursuit of greater wealth and exposure but out of the love they had for the characters and the world they created. It was just that the studio was adamant against making it for reasons that sound utterly ridiculous when you say them out loud. The project’s future seemed so questionable that the original film’s star was considering it dead in the water as recently as a few weeks again.
Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, the star/co-writer and co-writer/director respectively of Anchorman, will once again be teaming up to write the script for the just-announced sequel (I hesitate to call it Anchorman 2, even though that is probably a tentative title, but it is just not epic enough) and McKay will direct the film. Ferrell appeared on Conan early this week in character as his egotistical news anchor alter ego Ron Burgundy to confirm the news personally and jam on the jazz flute with the house band.
Expected to return to co-star with Ferrell as his trusted News Team are Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, and David Koechner. Although Carell and Rudd have become huge comedy stars in the years since the original Anchorman‘s release and Koechner keeps pretty busy as a comic character actor, all three actors have stated in the past that they would definitely return for a sequel. Rudd and Carell were even willing to cut their usual asking prices so the movie could be made for a reasonable budget. The original cost $26 million and grossed $84 million at the U.S. box office.
What kept the sequel from getting a green light before was studio Paramount Pictures’ hesitation at making it since the original’s international grosses were nowhere near as good as its domestic, even though they getting a Murderer’s Row of priceless comedic talent for practically nothing. With the reduced asking prices the Anchorman sequel could be made for close to $50 million, and considering that most studio comedies packed with big name stars often cost much more than that (Adam Sandler’s Thanksgiving turd Jack & Jill cost nearly $80 million) and the original Anchorman has become a beloved comedy classic in the years since its release thanks to strong DVD sales and constant cable airings, Paramount would not only be sure to recoup its investment and make a very healthy profit but it would also have the comedy movie event of the year.
I couldn’t be more excited at this news quite frankly. Anchorman has become a sort of secret handshake for comedy nerds everywhere. It has also launched so many great careers: it was the first movie that proved Ferrell could anchor (pun intended) a major studio film, but he had one hell of a supporting cast backing him up. The year after appearing in Anchorman as clueless weatherman Brick Tamland Steve Carell nabbed the role that shot his career into orbit when he was cast as Michael Scott on the U.S. version of The Office. Rudd and Seth Rogen (who had a small part as an enthusiastic cameraman) both went on to huge careers when they appeared in Anchorman producer Judd Apatow‘s first two films as a director – The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up. The prolific Apatow will resume his producing duties on the Anchorman sequel.
The participation of Christina Applegate, who played Burgundy’s romantic interest and professional rival Veronica Corningstone in the original, is still up in the air but personally I don’t see why she wouldn’t want to be a part of the sequel. Applegate made for a terrific foil to the pompous blowhard Burgundy and succeeded in humanizing him while showing off some dynamic comedic chops of her own (no surprise there – Applegate has been a comedy secret weapon since playing lovable airhead Kelly Bundy on the classic Fox sitcom Married…with Children). Even the filming of the sequel coincides with production on Applegate’s NBC comedy Up All Night. I’m sure McKay and Ferrell would be very willing to move things around to accommodate her schedule. Whether or not Rogen, Fred Willard, Chris Parnell, Vince Vaughn, Luke Wilson, Kathryn Hahn, Fred Armisen, Tim Robbins, and Ben Stiller will reprise their supporting roles/cameos from the original remains to be seen as well.
Production is set to begin next February. I trust in Ferrell and McKay to give us more comedy greatness. I just hope the Anchorman sequel doesn’t go the way of so many sequels to beloved comedy classics. Remember Ghostbusters II? Caddyshack II? Ferrell has spoken in the past of having a sequel focusing on the characters as they continue their crazy news careers in the 1980s. The original got tons of mileage from jokes about 1970’s culture. Could you imagine Ron and the News Team in Miami Vice-style pastel suits? Ron would have to keep the mustache, if only so he could engage in a mustache rivalry with Tom Selleck. That’s actually not a bad idea. Selleck can be a funny dude.
For a greater idea of the kind of talent the Anchorman sequel could attract check out this great article by Matt Goldberg over at Collider, 12 Actors Who Should Be in Anchorman 2. The list is packed with tantalizing prospects for surefire additions to the original’s all-star line-up of comedic heavyweights. The possibilities are endless.