Having helmed the excellent Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street, The LEGO Movie, and the upcoming sequel 22 Jump Street all in a row, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller have now become household names. Their track record is impeccable, and before they delved into the feature film world, they worked their magic on the small screen with the short-lived animated series Clone High. Created by Lord, Miller, and Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence, Clone High ran for one season on MTV from 2002 to 2003, telling the story of a high school that was secretly run as an elaborate military experiment created by the government, in which all of the students are actually clones of famous historical figures. It was a fantastic 13 episodes that carried Lord and Miller’s signature sense of humor, and though it didn’t last long, the series built up a pretty passionate fanbase.
While recently speaking with Lord and Miller during an extended conversation in anticipation of the release of 22 Jump Street, Steve asked the duo if there’s a possibility of resurrecting the series. The two revealed that they’ve been talking with Lawrence about bringing Clone High back potentially in movie form, going on to discuss the difficulties of finding the right rating for a feature film iteration. Much more after the jump.
Lord and Miller have been very open about their desire to bring Clone High back in some form over the years, and the two told Steve that they talk regularly with Lawrence about the possibility. However, the legal entanglements are quite complicated:
Miller: We talk very regularly now with Bill every few months or so, we talk about ‘How are we going to get this back in whatever form we can?’ We get our lawyers to talk to each other, and business affairs people to talk to each other. It’s very complicated.
Lord: And then we get tired.
Miller: It’s very hard (laughs). Because it’s at Viacom/MTV, we have a TV deal at Fox, he has a TV deal at Warner Bros. It’s all very complicated, and then it’s ‘should we do a movie, or a TV show, or whatever?’ But, we’re working on it! It’s hard!
Though I assumed their vision for more Clone High would be a new season on Netflix or Hulu as with many other prematurely cancelled series, it appears that the duo might actually be leaning towards a Clone High movie. However, the issue then becomes how to deal with the rating:
Lord: It’s also a tricky thing because we basically made a PG-13 TV series, and if you’re gonna do a movie you wonder, ‘Am I gonna have to justify the budget that it’s gonna take by trying to broaden this to a family audience, and is that gonna kill what was fun about the original thing?’ Because there’s so much blood in the original series (laughs).
Miller: And innuendo or whatever.
Lord: And JFK sex jokes. Are you going to wind up defanging it?
Miller: Are you gonna make it R? PG-13?
Lord: It’s trying to cross-reference what it’s gonna cost and what it’s gonna make.
Though animated films are almost exclusively geared towards younger audiences, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s long-in-the-works R-rated animated feature Sausage Party is finally coming to fruition with a release slated for 2016. Steve brought this film up as a potential precedent to get Clone High off the ground, and Lord and Miller discussed how these types of movies could cater to an untapped but potentially lucrative audience:
Miller: [Hard R-rated animated films] I think is a hole in the marketplace, because people love R-rated comedies and there’s teen boys that love all the Family Guy, Simpsons-type of shows. There’s a market there for that.
Lord: The Simpsons Movie was PG-13. It had male-frontal nudity in it.
Miller: South Park movie was R. There’s a place that people are not occupying thinking that animated has to be family always, and I don’t think that’s true. I think [Sausage Party] is gonna do great. Those guys are so funny and talented.
Steve asked if the potential success of Sausage Party might make it easier to get a tonally consistent Clone High movie off the ground, and the duo admitted they’ve been benefiting from Rogen and Co. busting doors down for a while:
Lord: Maybe. We’ve been riding those guys’ coattails for a long time, so we might as well keep it going.
Miller: (laughs) They’re paving the way.
Lord: Seriously, if Superbad doesn’t happen, I don’t think Jump Street ever happens.
As a massive fan of Clone High and Lord and Miller, it’s certainly encouraging to hear that the two are serious about bringing the property back in some fashion. With the insane winning streak they’re on at the moment, the duo is clearly quite busy, but I’m hopeful that Clone High can come back at some point in a form that doesn’t betray the tone of the original incarnation.
Look for more from Steve’s interview with Lord and Miller on Collider soon. Here’s what they had to say about Clone High: