Is the ‘Arrested Development’ movie real?


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Is the ‘Arrested Development’ movie really happening? The breathless reports over the weekend (we won’t name names) suggest that plenty of news outlets believe the answer is yes: A movie uniting Michael Cera, Jeffrey Tambor, Jason Bateman and the rest of the cast from the beloved TV show will shoot next year, along with a batch of television episodes.

The reports originated from series’ creator Mitchell Hurwitz, who told an audience at the New Yorker Festival on Sunday that he was, well, working on the script.


‘We’re 80% of the way to an answer. We don’t completely own the property; there are business people involved and studios,’ he said of potential Bluthian adventures. ‘But just creatively, I have been working on the screenplay for a long time.’

That doesn’t sound like an emphatic statement, even from the man who’s most invested in making a movie happen.

Hurwitz also added that ‘we’re trying to do a limited-run series,’ a comment that somehow went through the broken-telephone of media reports to come out as, basically, it will arrive on television next season.

Feeding the fire on all this was a tweet from Bateman saying: ‘It’s true. We will do 10 episodes and the movie. Probably shoot them all together next summer for a release in early ’13. VERY excited!’ It should be noted that Bateman also said that ‘it’s still in everybody’s plans for it to happen.’ He said this in April 2010.

It’s been a question mark from the start just who would be willing to come back for the film based on the cult series, not to mention who would finance and distribute the thing. Judging from the fact that the full cast appeared on the New Yorker panel, a movie cast should include nearly all the main actors.

The latter issue, though, is thornier. The movie was originally set up at Fox Searchlight, but it’s not been a priority at the studio in recent years. (The company has not made a television-derived film in years, if ever, and starting now with a show that, no matter how devoted its fans, is niche at best seems like a tough undertaking.) The movie won’t move to the tentpole-minded 20th Century Fox either, according to a person familiar with the studio’s plans who was not authorized to talk about them publicly.


Meanwhile, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment, which produced the series at Fox and has long been attached as producers on the film, has a deal at Universal. But the Comcast-owned studio is as focused on the blockbuster as ever, and after several misses this year, would be almost the last studio to take on a risk of this magnitude.

The ‘Arrested Development’ principals have been talking about a film for a long time. When we asked him about it in 2009, Cera said he thought it would happen. Last year, David Cross said it wouldn’t happen -- then Bateman stepped in to say it would. We’ve no doubt the creators are eager to get it done. But frankly, we’d bet on an ‘Entourage’ movie before this one. Or, given the success of ‘Dolphin Tale,’ a ‘Flipper’ film.


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A comedy holding its breath


-- Steven Zeitchik