Neal Moritz Talks 21 JUMP STREET Sequel; Confirms the Story Takes Place in College, Ice Cube Will Return, and Phil Lord and Chris Miller Attached to Direct

by     Posted 1 year, 240 days ago

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One of the most pleasant surprises of 2012 was Sony’s 21 Jump Street adaptation.  While remakes and reboots are usually developed with an eye towards appealing to the widest possible audience, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller crafted a wonderfully peculiar and hilarious comedy that benefitted from some excellent chemistry between stars Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill.  As the R-rated film grossed over $200 million worldwide, both fans and Sony were keen on moving forward with a sequel.  Screenwriter Michael Bacall has been working on the script for the follow-up alongside Hill, and Sony recently announced that they’re planning the film for a 2014 release.

Steve recently sat down for a lengthy interview with producer Neal Moritz, and during their wide-ranging conversation Moritz talked quite a bit about 21 Jump Street 2.  He confirmed that the story finds Tatum and Hill infiltrating a college campus, Ice Cube is set to return as Captain Dickson, and he also noted that Lord and Miller are attached to direct with an eye towards a summer 2014 release date.  Hit the jump to read on.

channing-tatum-jonah-hill-21-jump-street-2-sequelWhile the first film found Tatum and Hill going back to high school, it ended with a tease of the characters eventually moving on to a college campus to continue their undercover police work.  Moritz confirmed that the characters will indeed be going to college in the sequel:

“It leads off where we ended the last film and our guys are going to college.  Now, I can’t tell you more than that because there’s some fun to be had in what college they’re going to and what’s going to happen.  It really just starts there.”

Though we can reasonably assume that 21 Jump Street 2 will provide plenty of laughs, Moritz noted that they’re also very much focused on maintaining the heart of the first film in the sequel:

“The relationship developed quite a bit in the first movie and now we’re kind of in the marriage phase between the two guys.  Now they’re actual partners, so they’re married – what happens once marriage starts?  In certain ways, it’s kind of like the Seven Year Itch of police buddy comedies.  What worked so well about the first one was – it was funny, yes, there was good action, yes – but really what worked more than anything was that there was great heart.  That’s the thing we’ve been working really hard on, just try and make sure that the heart of the first one is there for the second one.”

phil-lord-chris-miller-21-jump-street-2-sequelMuch of the offbeat humor of 21 Jump Street was facilitated by directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (who also directed Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs).  While they’re currently in production on the animated feature The Lego Movie, they’ve been adamant about the fact that they hope to do a live-action feature while the lengthy animation phase of Lego continues in Australia.  It appears that the scheduling is going to work out, as Moritz said the duo are attached to helm the 21 Jump Street sequel this fall:

“[Lord and Miller] are attached to direct the movie, we’re actively developing the script with them.  Right now, we got a first draft that we’re pleased and the second draft is coming along.  We’re supposed to start shooting in late September, early October.”

Moritz also added that they’re hoping to release the film in the summer next year, which is a huge vote of confidence from the studio.  He noted that while the follow-up will have a larger budget, the focus is still on character:

“We will have more money but I don’t think people will come into 21 Jump Street to see the action.  I think the action needs to be good and will be good but it’s not like Fast and the Furious – when they come to see Fast and the Furious they’re expecting big action.  What they’re expecting here is good, funny movie with a great combination of Channing and Jonah, with a lot of heart.  And that’s what we hope to deliver – but there will be action as well.”

ice-cube-21-jump-street-2-sequelOne of the highlights of the first film is Ice Cube’s performance, and Moritz specifically confirmed that Cube will most definitely be returning for the follow-up, adding that we’ll be seeing a number of familiar faces:

“I think there’s going to be a lot of people back from the previous film but we’re going to add quite a few people.  It’s been nice, people like the movie so much that there’s been a number of people who have come forward and said, ‘I’d like to be in that movie’ or ‘I’d like to do a cameo in that movie’ or something like that.”

You can read the full transcript of Steve’s conversation with Moritz regarding the 21 Jump Street sequel and the first film below, which also includes a lengthy story about convincing Tatum he could be funny and how there was originally an animation element to the first movie.

Look for Steve’s complete interview with Moritz on Collider soon, and if you missed what he had to say about Fast & Furious 6 and 7, click here.

21-jump-street-posterCollider: One of my favorite movies of 2012 was 21 Jump Street.  I absolutely loved that film and I’m sure you’ve heard that from everyone that has seen it.

NEAL MORITZ:  It’s one of my favorites.

I effing love this movie.  I’ve spoken to Jonah and Channing and they talked about doing the sequel.  You never really know until the studio officially announces it, and one of the highlights of CinemaCon for me, was seeing the logo for 21 Jump Street 2 2014.  What can you tease people about the sequel, in terms of anything?

MORITZ:  It leads off where we ended the last film and our guys are going to college.  Now, I can’t tell you more than that because there’s some fun to be had in what college they’re going to and what’s going to happen.  It really just starts there.  The relationship developed quite a bit in the first movie and now we’re kind of in the marriage phase between the two guys.  Now they’re actual partners, so they’re married – what happens once marriage starts?  In certain ways, it’s kind of like the Seven Year Itch of police buddy comedies.  What worked so well about the first one was – it was funny, yes, there was good action, yes – but really what worked more than anything was that there was great heart.  That’s the thing we’ve been working really hard on, just try and make sure that the heart of the first one is there for the second one.  

Everyone is a assuming that Phil and Chris are directing.  Can you confirm that they’re definitely directing it?

MORITZ:  They are attached to direct the movie, we’re actively developing the script with them.  Right now, we got a first draft that we’re pleased and the second draft is coming along. We’re supposed to start shooting in late September, early October.  

That’s actually what Tatum told me, last time I interviewed him.  He said the goal was to shoot in September and get the movie out in 2014.  You released the first one in March 2012, are you aiming for another March–

21-jump-street-2-jonah-hill-channing-tatumMORITZ:  We’re aiming for summer.

So you’re going for the big summer movie.

MORITZ:  Yes, we are.

Obviously the first film is a little bit of a risk.  Now that everyone has seen it, loves it – does that mean that the studio maybe gives you a little bit more movie to play with some bigger action set pieces?

MORITZ:  Yes, but I don’t think that’s the make or break of the movie, honestly.  We will have more money but I don’t think people will come into 21 Jump Street to see the action.  I think the action needs to be good and will be good but it’s not like Fast and the Furious – when they come to see Fast and the Furious they’re expecting big action.  What they’re expecting here is good, funny movie with a great combination of Channing and Jonah, with a lot of heart.  And that’s what we hope to deliver – but there will be action as well.  

I completely agree with you.  The character moments between the two of them make the entire film.  Also, something that really surprised everyone was how great Channing Tatum was delivering comedy.  What was your reaction the first time you saw the rough cut?

MORITZ:  Honestly, Channing’s biggest nervousness about doing the movie was the fact that he didn’t know if he could be funny.  We said, let’s all get together, we’ll have dinner – it was me, Jonah, and Channing, and the directors.  We sat there and we’re having dinner one night.  This was before he had actually signed on to do the movie, we had this great dinner, and the two of them were fantastic together.  I think Phil and Chris said to him, “That’s all you gotta do.  Just what you’re doing there, just be natural.  And don’t try and be funny, if you try to be funny it’s not to be funny.”  And that’s what he did.  He just did it without trying to be funny.  

21-jump-street-2-sequel-channing-tatumWhen I saw the first cut – I hate seeing first cuts, in fact, in the whole process of making movies, the first cut is always the worst day for me because I can only see different fractions of it.  It’s hard for me to see how it’s going to get better at that point.  I’m always just beyond nervous, because I convinced the studio gave me a lot of money and now here it is.  Now, I gotta show them what [what they got for] their x-amount of dollars.  But I have to say, on Jump Street, the movie that was released is very, very, very close to that first director’s cut.  That doesn’t mean that we didn’t go on a bunch of circles before we came back to that.  I remember we saw the first cut, we were all thrilled and then Chris and Phil said, let’s do a little more work on it.  They went and tooled around with it and they did a bunch of stuff to it and they tried some things that I didn’t necessarily think made the film better.  They just made the film a little different and I said to them, “Guys, just trust your movie.  You got a great movie here, you don’t need to put any gimmicks or do anything on top of it.  You just got a great movie, you don’t need to mess with it too much.”  And I think it was a relief for all of us because of their animation background stuff.  We had some thoughts early on about doing some animation things throughout the film, and the film was just so good on its own that we just didn’t need to do any of that.  And that ultimately was very close to what the final cut of the movie was.  

Another thing that I thought was amazing about the first movie is Ice Cube’s performance as Captain Dickson.  I’m assuming you’re bringing him back for the sequel.

MORITZ:  A hundred percent.

And the other thing is, with the rest of the cast, you had some people that could make an appearance again.  But it’s also possible that since they’re going to college, it’s going to be a lot of new people.  How much do you foresee some of the people making appearances versus going in an all-new direction?

MORITZ:  I think there’s going to be a lot of people back from the previous film but we’re going to add quite a few people.  It’s been nice, people like the movie so much that there’s been a number of people who have come forward and said, “I’d like to be in that movie” or “I’d like to do a cameo in that movie” or something like that. 

So it’s not going to be hard to fill the roles.

MORITZ:  Oh, no.  We have an abundance.

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