For years, director Adam McKay and star Will Ferrell had said Paramount wasn’t interested in making a sequel to their cult 2004 hit Anchorman and fans had all but given up hope. Then, a few weeks ago, Ron Burgundy showed up seemingly out of nowhere and announced Anchorman 2 was finally happening. After the initial shock and excitement subsided the questions turned to logistics. Who would return and what changed behind the scenes? The first question was quickly answered, the entire supporting cast (save for Christina Applegate, more on her later) had already committed and now, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, McKay explains what changed and why the sequel was so hard to push through. Read his quotes after the jump.

You can read the full interview with McKay at this link, but below are the major bullet points.

Of course, the whole reason Paramount didn’t want to make the film was money. The original only cost $26 million and did a decent $85 million domestically, however, the international numbers were awful, only $5 million. In today’s economy, international is everything so Paramount didn’t see how they could afford to make a sequel for more than $35 million. Here’s McKay:

Originally, I was saying, ‘Hey, $80 million budget because it’ll be period, and you gotta pay the stars,’ and they were, like, ‘Are you crazy?’ And then quickly I was, like: ‘All right, fine, $60 million, and we can make it work. We’ll all take pay cuts,’ and they were still, like, ‘Are you out of your mind?’

Remember, since 2004 Ferrell and his co-stars, including Steve Carell and Paul Rudd, have become much bigger box-office draws and $35 million would hardly cover their salaries. Plus Paramount wasn’t looking at the insane success the film has had on the home market.

Their numbers machine purely looked at the box office. It didn’t project off of DVD sales and TV and cultural influence.

Finally though, a project that was in development at the studio fell through leaving a gap in their schedule and Paramount approached the pair about the film:

Two things happened. We tried to set this other movie up for Will and Vince [Vaughn] that ended up being, once again, a crazy low offer, no back end, at Paramount, and that didn’t happen. And then the other thing that happened was I did some work on The Dictator for Sacha [Baron Cohen], kind of helping out. And I think the combination of those two things with a movie falling through, I think they saw the numbers on the other one and were like, “Wait a minute, if we’re looking at these numbers for an original Will/Vince one, and we have this other franchise that’s guaranteed to at least get you to here, why wouldn’t we do this for just a little bit more?” I think some of the numbers suddenly started rubbing against each other. And I think the other thing was, I suddenly was working with them again as a writer and as a little bit of a producer/director. They started looking at The Dictator and having fun working with me on that, and I think all three things kind of perfect stormed into, You know what? Let’s do this.

They agreed on a $50 million budget with plenty of back end and that was that. So Ferrell and McKay have been working hard on a script, hoping to shoot the movie in February for a tentative Summer 2014 release. None of the star’s deals have officially closed and a decision has yet to be made if Christina Applegate will return or not but all are likely. Here’s what he’ll say about the story:

We have a basic idea. I’ll tell you we’re staying roughly period, and I would just say it’s the next stage in the development of American media and news. The fun of these characters is they confront change very poorly. [laughs] So they’ve got some more change coming their way. I can say that pretty safely.

You can read much more on the film’s back story at The Hollywood Reporter interview.

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