“Zoolander 2” opens next week, and given it’s arriving fifteen years after the original, people are spending a lot of time reflecting how that first movie was a troubled production that died at the box office and didn’t gain its cultural relevance until it landed on home video.
In a recent piece by Esquire, the magazine notes that the initial read-through of the “Zoolander” script was so bad, the studio brought in another writer and considered getting Brendan Fraser to play the lead. Thankfully, that didn’t happen, but Paramount wasn’t exactly on Stiller’s side either, and when the movie went $6 million over budget, he was forced to hand over $1 million of his own movie so he could finish the film. (That’s not to mention that Paramount had to pay a settlement to Bret Easton Ellis, because the movie’s plot was somewhat similar to his novel “Glamorama“).
“Honestly, I don’t think the studio understood the movie enough to say, ‘OK, we want to pay the extra money.’ Which is their prerogative, it’s not personal, I really don’t think it’s personal…Though it did feel like that at the time,” Stiller said.
Meanwhile, Justin Theroux, who led the writing team on “Zoolander 2,” shares his own reflections on how things have played out with the original and followup. “I don’t think most people saw the first one in the cinema,” he said. “They saw it on DVD or cable or satellite, so it became [like] this rare piece of vinyl almost, that people discovered and really enjoyed sort of at home. So, in that way it was an indie that everyone got to discover on their own as opposed to being an opening-weekend smash. And that’s part of the reason I think it’s such a beloved movie, because everyone has a personal connection to it.”
“But it was weird because the numbers didn’t add up to make a second one, even though it was a cult classic,” he added. “With studios, when the accountants recommend making a sequel they often point to the first one and say, ‘How much did the first one make?’ And it really did die at the box office, the first one.”
By hook or by crook, the sequel arrives on February 12th. Watch three clips below, and check out some new posters too.