A new 'American Pie' goes into the (theatrical) oven
Break out the webcams and apple pie: The antics of Chuck, Stifler and the rest of the "American Pie" crew could be coming back to theaters.
Universal, which made and distributed the pop-phenomenon original, is developing a new version with an eye toward resetting the property as a theatrical franchise.
The studio is poised to bring on "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle" writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg to script a new take on the franchise, which is being described in the development community as "American Pie 4." The movie would come on the heels of the third theatrical movie in the franchise, "American Wedding," which came out in 2003, and a slew of lucrative DVD titles that followed.
The original "American Pie" was released in 1999 and became a cultural and commercial phenomenon, grossing more than $200 million worldwide and spawning a booming market for R-rated summer comedies. "American Pie 2" and "American Wedding" followed at two-year intervals.
A host of direct-to-DVD titles then followed "Wedding" under the banner of "American Pie Presents," including "Band Camp," "The Naked Mile," "Beta House" and, this past December, "The Book of Love." But the studio, sources say, hopes that the franchise could be ripe for a new theatrical run.Universal declined comment on the new project.
At least some of the original cast is interested in coming back for the new picture, though sources emphasized that development is early and there are no actor deals in place.
Seann William Scott, Jason Biggs, Shannon Elizabeth and Alyson Hannigan were among the young comedic actors who got their break in the first film, which explored a group of high school seniors trying to lose their virginity before they left their adolescence behind.
How the characters would be worked into a new script remains a question; many, after all, are now in their late 20s and early 30s, and the original picture was set in high school. Writers would also need to contend with a world in which the novelty of the raunchy comedy, which was a relatively new form more than a decade ago, may have worn off with the success of movies like "The Hangover" and a spate of Judd Apatow films.
But the studio is clearly hoping that the awareness and fondness for the comedy brand could help support a new installment. Franchise reboots have become the latest vogue in Hollywood, even and especially for properties that haven't been away that long: Sony is rebooting "Spider-Man" just a few years after the webbed one last appeared on the big screen.
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: Jason Biggs, Thomas Ian Nicholas and Eddie Kaye Thomas from "American Pie." Credit: Vivian Zink / Universal