'Pitch Perfect 3': Can the franchise continue to carry its tune?

'Pitch Perfect 3': Can the franchise continue to carry its tune?
Following the success of "Pitch Perfect 2," Universal is moving forward with development on "Pitch Perfect 3." (Richard Cartwright / Universal)

With "Pitch Perfect 2" grossing $250 million and counting at the worldwide box office, it's a-ca-obvious that Universal Pictures would plan for a third installment in the burgeoning franchise chronicling the misadventures of the Barden Bellas.

So it should come as no big surprise that, according to the Hollywood Reporter (and confirmed by the Los Angeles Times), Kay Cannon is in early talks to write "Pitch Perfect 3," reprising her duties from the first two movies.


A Universal spokesperson reached by The Times said that the studio is indeed in development on a third "Pitch Perfect" film, but declined to comment on the status of any negotiations. In any case, as the studio moves forward, it will inevitably face the question of how many elements it can and should bring back from the previous movies.

Securing Cannon would ensure a measure of continuity, as she was the sole screenwriter on 2012's "Pitch Perfect" (loosely adapted from Mickey Rapkin's nonfiction book about a collegiate a cappella group) and this year's sequel.

In an interview with The Times in April, Cannon said she was "glad to have been the only writer in this world" and added that she had already kicked around some ideas for a third film. Of course, this being Hollywood, neither of those sentiments guarantees that she and Universal will be able to work out a deal.

Also up in the air are the returns of Elizabeth Banks, who produced both movies and directed the second, and Anna Kendrick, the franchise's leading lady thus far. Rebel Wilson, the comic relief who has emerged as a breakout star, told The Times in April that she was "looking forward" to a third film and added, "I don't know about Anna. I should ask her." (Wilson said her "Pitch Perfect 2" contract did not include a third film, but she had recently come aboard the project.)

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Kendrick and Wilson were each paid about $2 million for the second film, which cost $29 million to make. That bumped them up significantly from the low six figures for Kendrick and from less than $100,000 for Wilson.

Franchise actors are usually signed up for three movies; "Pitch Perfect," though, is a sufficiently ensemble piece that a third installment could conceivably move forward even without a few of its principal cast. Presumably with an eye toward future sequels, "Pitch Perfect 2" did introduce a new, younger Bella in Hailee Steinfeld, who could theoretically take up the franchise mantle from Kendrick and/or Wilson at some point.

As the "Pitch Perfect" brand has grown from a sleeper hit into a legitimate box office powerhouse, expectations have risen in turn — as has the threat of franchise fatigue.

Reviews for "Pitch Perfect 2" were not quite as good as the original, and its A-minus CinemaScore dipped slightly from its predecessor's A.

On the other hand, "Pitch Perfect 2" $69-million domestic opening weekend outpaced the original's entire domestic gross by $4 million.

Ultimately, the challenge of the "Pitch Perfect" franchise is the same one faced by the Barden Bellas themselves: take pop hits and remix them just enough so that they're recognizable and fresh at the same time.

Times staff writer Amy Kaufman contributed to this report.

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