EXCLUSIVE: Long shot and Warm bodies filmmaker Jonathan Levine was commissioned to direct the hit sequel to the beloved 1987 film dirty dancewhich Lionsgate is launching for the Cannes market next week.
In an exclusive interview with Deadline, Levine discussed the hot market package and revealed details about the film’s creative direction.
Levine co-wrote the sequel, also titled dirty dance, with Elizabeth Chomko. Casting conversations are underway – the team has a shortlist of names to play the lead role – and the film is set to enter production later this year for a 2024 release. The cast is expected to be a combination of newcomers and of named actors.
Jennifer Gray may not be the only returning face from the original, Levine told us. “We are about to talk to people and explore this,” said the 50/50 said the manager.
“The most important thing for us was to have Jennifer on board. She is an invaluable collaborator. We will try to involve as many people from the original as necessary. We want to be respectful in every way.
That involves having a conversation with Patrick Swayze’s estate, Levine said. “Johnny is part of Baby’s journey through history.”
He told us: “This film exists in a dialogue with the original. We want to introduce this story to a whole new generation. That said, Johnny’s absence is a big part of the story, so it’s a coming-of-age story but also a coming-of-age story for Baby’s character in a way.
The music for the film will include songs from the original film (hungry eyes is among the songs set to return) to ’90s hip-hop. Levine also named Alanis Morisette and Liz Phair as artists whose songs could potentially feature.
Levine was previously set to produce the project through his Megamix banner alongside producing partner Gillian Bohrer, but the filmmaker has now opted to direct the film as well. Gray will also produce the sequel.
“While the original Dirty Dancing has always been one of my favorite movies, I never imagined I would direct the sequel,” Levine said. “While co-writing it, I fell in love with the characters (new and old), the world of 1990s Catskills New York, and the music, which will range from songs from the original movie to 90s hip-hop. I look forward to collaborating with Jennifer to bring this beautiful story of summer, romance and dance to a generation of new fans. And to those longtime fans, I promise we won’t ruin your childhood. We’ll approach the mission with sophistication. , ambition and, above all, love.
A key part of the story of the 1960s original is Penny’s abortion, which preceded the Roe v. Wade legislation. In our chat, Levine acknowledged the controversy sparked by the recent leak of a document suggesting the Supreme Court voted to strike down the monument. deer v. Wade decision. But it’s unclear if the subject matter will feature in the new film.
Dirty Dancing is the best-selling library title in Lionsgate history. The 1987 original, starring Gray and Patrick Swayze, was a worldwide box office success and amassed a staunch fan base worldwide.
Commenting on Levine’s appointment to direct, Erin Westerman, Lionsgate’s president of production, said, “Dirty Dancing is more than a movie – it’s a cultural touchstone that continues to be a rite of passage. As we approached the next chapter, we knew we had to honor the depth, relevance, and warmth of the original. We were lucky to have Jennifer as our guide and we’re delighted to have Jonathan alongside her at the helm, as everything he does is textured and romantic – he always gives us goosebumps.