Jonathan Levine, the filmmaker behind the comedy “Long Shot’ and tear-jerker “50/50,” is taking his talents to the Catskills.
He’s been hired by Lionsgate to direct a sequel to 1987’s “Dirty Dancing,” with Jennifer Grey set to reprise her classic role as Frances “Baby” Houseman. No word as to whether she’ll be in a corner.
Prior to finding himself in the director’s chair, Levine was already attached to the project as a producer. He also co-wrote the screenplay with Elizabeth Chomko. The follow-up film, also titled “Dirty Dancing,” is expected to go into production later this year for release in 2024. International sales will launch later this month in Cannes.
Lionsgate announced back in 2020 that another “Dirty Dancing” story was in the works. Little is known about the next chapter, but Levine has hinted the sequel will include music from the original movie, as well as ’90s hip-hop. Patrick Swayze, who co-starred in the original as Grey’s love interest, died in 2009. However, the filmmakers are in conversations with Swayze’s estate to incorporate the actor’s presence in some way. Additional cast members have yet to be announced.
“While the original ‘Dirty Dancing’ has always been one of my favorite films, I never imagined I would direct the sequel,” Levine said in a statement. “Through 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 can’t wait to collaborate with Jennifer to bring this beautiful story of summer and romance and dancing to a generation of new fans. And to the longtime ones, I promise we will not ruin your childhood. We will tackle the assignment with sophistication, ambition, and, above all, love.”
Levine’s credits also include “Snatched” with Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn; stoner comedy “The Night Before,” zombie comedy “Warm Bodies” and the 2021 Hulu miniseries “Nine Perfect Strangers.”
In addition to returning to her role as Baby, Grey will also executive produce the sequel.
According to Lionsgate, “Dirty Dancing” is the best-selling library title in the studio’s arsenal. Emile Ardolino directed the original, starring Grey as a young woman who falls in love with a dance instructor named Jonny Castle (Swayze) at Kellerman’s resort in New York’s Catskills. Along with grossing $214 million at the box office and landing an Oscar for best original song, “Dirty Dancing” cemented the line “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” in the cultural lexicon. The 11th-act musical number “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” today a common ditty at bar mitzvahs, weddings and other large celebratory gatherings, won the film its sole Academy Award, as well as a Grammy Award.
Given its success, the upcoming movie is not the first time that “Dirty Dancing” has been mined over the past 35 years. A prequel, “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights,” was released in 2004 to little fanfare. A made-for-TV remake, starring Abigail Breslin and Colt Prattes, came out in 2017.
“‘Dirty Dancing’ is more than a movie — it’s a cultural touchstone that continues to be a rite of passage,” says Erin Westerman, Lionsgate’s president of production. “As we approach the next chapter, we knew we had to honor the depth, the relevance, and the heat of the original. We’ve been lucky to have Jennifer as our guide and are thrilled to have Jonathan by her side at the helm, because everything he makes is textured and romantic — he always gives us goosebumps.”
Deadline Hollywood first reported the news of Levine’s hiring.