Of all the folks behind Bill & Ted Face the Music, the upcoming third installment of that delightfully goofy sci-fi comedy franchise, many names will make sense. Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, original writer Ed Solomon? Yep, that all tracks. But here’s a curveball for you: Steven Soderbergh. I know, right? The director is not a stranger to comedy (Logan Lucky is downright hilarious), but isn’t the first person I’d peg to this kind of movie. And yet: He’s an executive producer on Bill & Ted 3. And as he explained on Flaviar’s NightCap Live, while promoting his brandy brand Singani 63, the film wouldn’t have happened without him.
Soderbergh and Solomon worked together on Mosaic, an experimental limited series on HBO that was also told simultaneously as an interactive app. During their time together, Soderbergh couldn’t help but ask about Bill & Ted. And his answers were more fruitful than he imagined:
When Ed and I started working on Mosaic, I knew, of course, that he had Bill & Ted in his past. And one day we were talking, and he was like, “You know, we wrote a third Bill & Ted movie.” And I said, “Well, great! Like, what’s going on with that? Can I read it?” And I read it, and I was just part of a group of people, including Scott Kroopf, the original producer, and Keanu and Alex, that really wanted to see this happen. My role was more as cheerleader than anything. The companies that own the rights to make a sequel, I called them up and said, “This script’s hilarious, why aren’t we doing this?” We found a fantastic director, Dean Parisot, who I’ve known for a long time… I’ve seen it, it’s really good, and we’re almost done, and I feel like it’s the perfect movie for people who want to feel better about what’s happening right now.
There you have it. Bill & Ted 3 exists simply because Solomon and Soderbergh were chatting about the property while working on something else, Soderbergh liked the script, made some calls, and made it all happen. And for those unfamiliar with the broad strokes of the script: Winter and Reeves return as Bill and Ted, and receive a mysterious message from the future. They must write a hit song to save the Earth, or all will be destroyed! The duo get to it as best they can, with supporting roles from Brigette Lundy-Paine and Samara Weaving as their children, Jayma Mays and Erinn Hayes as their wives, the return of William Sadler and even the late George Carlin through archive footage, and newcomers like Anthony Carrigan, Jillian Bell, Beck Bennett, Holland Taylor, Kid Cudi, and Kristen Schaal.
Currently, the film has a theatrical release date of August 21, 2020. Given the “coronavirus lockdown” of it all, that does seem a little unpredictable, to say the least. Soderbergh himself couldn’t speculate with certainty on the film’s release future:
Well, look. It was supposed to come out in August in theaters all over the world. We’re trying to figure out what’s going on now, because as you and I discussed, is there a movie business when a theater can only be one third full? That’s a question that nobody’s able to answer yet, and it’s a question I’m sure Chris Nolan is really grappling with right now.
By hinting at the lack of a defined future for even Christopher Nolan‘s Tenet, which is considered by many to be a hopeful “return to the cinema post-pandemic” this summer, Soderbergh is admitting he doesn’t know what Bill & Ted 3‘s future might be. For my money, Bill & Ted 3 would make a great streaming service addition for those stuck at home this summer. Mid-budget genre pieces with built-in nostalgia feel like streaming catnip — not to mention parents whose kids love Stranger Things and want to share original sources. And as we saw earlier with Apple TV+ buying a Tom Hanks prestige film, anything is possible in this new, wild west.
For more Soderbergh sequel goodies, did you know he wrote a script continuing his breakthrough film?