Will Ferrell and Adam McKay started toying with the idea of an Anchorman sequel way back in 2008, but Paramount reportedly wasn’t very big on the idea since the original didn’t actually perform too well at the box office. In fact, Anchorman only earned $28 million at the box office for its opening weekend (good enough for a debut at No. 2) and, even more surprisingly, it only earned $90 million worldwide during its run in theaters. That’s pretty mind-blowing, unless you consider that most of the college students who saw it in 2004 totally snuck in through the side door, bro.
But now that Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is coming to us on December 20, McKay, Ferrell and his co-stars told Entertainment Weekly about the sequel alternative that almost was – a Broadway musical version of the tale of Ron Burgundy and the Channel 4 News Team.
“We thought we could kind of do the old Marx Brothers model where we perfected it onstage for six months, got all the jokes tight, and then we shot it,” McKay says. The studio seemed open to the notion, and all the other castmembers were onboard.
“I thought it was a great idea because you could go even further into the craziness of it all,” says Paul Rudd, who plays ladies’-man field reporter Brian Fantana. “We were ready to go,” says David Koechner, who plays blustery sportscaster Champ Kind. “We were going to rehearse in the spring and run all summer, and that fall we were going to shoot the new movie. I was very excited.”
McKay and Ferrell got deep into brainstorming ideas. “We had our story arc, we were kicking around song ideas, we may have even contacted a Broadway producer at one point informally,” McKay says. “We even had a discussion about what we’d do at the end of the six months: Would we have a replacement cast? Would people come see it if it was, for instance, Alec Baldwin doing Ron Burgundy instead of Will?” The more they batted around the idea, though, the more daunting it all started to sound. “We had dinner with Josh Gad once, and I was asking him about The Book of Mormon,” Ferrell says. “I said, ‘I’m just curious: How long did it take for you guys to put that together?’ And he was like, ‘Well, we workshopped it for four years … ‘ We had no real idea how much work it takes to mount a musical.”
And now I’m going to spend the rest of the day bummed that this never happened. Thanks, Obama.