Seventeen years after the original “Super Troopers,” the sequel is arriving in theaters with a massive assist from fans of the wacky police comedy.
“I’ve been on a 17-city tour for the fan screenings, and we’ve been going out to party and I’ve been performing stand-up between the screenings, so it’s been a busy time,” director Jay Chandrasekhar told Variety.
“At one point in Vancouver, we walked into a bar and there were 10 guys dressed like us in state trooper gear,” he recalled. “There’s a level of fan interest that’s very gratifying.”
“Super Troopers 2” begins opening Thursday night in North America in previews and expands to 2,040 locations Friday. The film reunites all five Troopers from the original film — Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske — collectively known as Broken Lizard. The quintet play profane Vermont state troopers with a penchant for pranks and feuding with other local law enforcement officers.
Broken Lizard also made 2004’s “Club Dread” and 2006’s “Beerfest,” which grossed $20 million. The troupe performed in “Broken Lizard Stand Up” for Comedy Central in 2010.
The first “Super Troopers” was made for $1.2 million — funded by a single investor — and acquired by Fox Searchlight at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. Though its $23 million worldwide gross was not remarkable, it became a cult favorite, beloved by buzzed viewers in the same way “Animal House” was a generation before. The sequel’s opening was therefore planned for 4/20.
“‘Super Troopers’ did well but not crazy well theatrically,” Chandrasekhar recalled. “But it did so well after that it in ancillary markets that it became impossible for us to get away from it. We’d get pulled over by cops who would thank us and then would let us go.”
Broken Lizard was formed at Colgate University as a comedy troupe, leading to the micro-budget 1996 comedy “Puddle Cruiser.” The film attracted the attention of Harvey Weinstein at Miramax, where “Super Troopers” was originally developed.
“Harvey had really liked ‘Puddle Cruiser’ but the indie world was changing and the movie was perceived as a big risk on nobodies,” recalled Richard Pirello, who produced both “Super Trooper” films.
“Once the first film was so successful, there was always this barrage of fan pressure to do the sequel,” said Pirello. “So after years of that, we had a big debate about using crowdfunding and we were a little worried that we’d fall short. But then we got to the initial goal of $2 million in a little more than 24 hours.”
Fox Searchlight had agreed to release the sequel if the $2 million goal was met. The 2015 crowdfunding campaign wound up raising $4.4 million — the second-most successful crowdfunding campaign ever for a movie. It was funded through Indiegogo with over 50,000 contributors, approaching the $5.7 million record set by the “Veronica Mars” movie on Kickstarter in 2013.
Incentives sold on the first day included a producer title for $10,000, a speaking actor role for $10,000, a trip to the ballpark with the main actors for $15,000 and even the patrol car that was used in the filming — $35,000. The 17-city tour was largely for fans who bought the incentive to attend a fan screening prior to the release.
Pirello and Chandrasekhar agree that getting through the first fan screening on March 19 in Los Angeles was the major milestone. “You’re never completely sure that it’s going to work until then,” Pirello added.
“What I’ve found is that humans do laugh at the same things everywhere,” Chadrasekhar said. “Canadians laughed louder at the insults to the United States.”
The troopers may be back again. “We do have a ‘Super Troopers 3: Winter Soldiers’ script that we’re working on,” Chandrasekhar admitted.