Nearly a decade after the release of that romantic comedy, a sequel is in the works, The Times has confirmed. Bert Royal, who wrote the original movie’s script, is writing and will direct the follow-up for Screen Gems. Zanne Devine is also returning to produce the follow-up, which will mark Royal’s directorial debut.
“Easy A” starred Stone as Olive Penderghast, a clean-cut teen who experiments with the high school rumor mill to build her social status and bank account. The sex-positive, coming-of-age film aimed to update and subvert the classic novel “The Scarlet Letter” (in which a woman is scorned for her sexual activity), as Olive agrees to lie about her escapades with male classmates to assuage their adolescent anxieties.
Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes, Thomas Haden Church, Lisa Kudrow, Patricia Clarkson, Stanley Tucci, Fred Armisen and Dan Byrd were among the cast of the comedy, directed by Will Gluck. It became a surprise hit, grossing $75 million worldwide.
Though he previously pitched a sequel just after the release of “Easy A,” the overall evolution of sexuality in society has set the stage for his new script.
“Times have changed quite a bit since I wrote that movie! The term ‘slut-shaming’ wasn’t even in existence when the movie came out, and people were barely texting back then,” Royal told The Times on Thursday.
“Now, we’re in this whole new world where people are very open and things that were taboo even 10 years ago are not as taboo now. There’s a lot of fun stuff to explore,” he added.
The next film will take place at the same high school as the first film and echo many of its themes but will center on the romantic lives of a new set of students. The plot will zoom in on Chip Penderghast, the younger, adopted sibling of Stone’s Olive, who is now in high school himself. (Though Bryce Clyde Jenkins played Chip in “Easy A,” casting has not been finalized for the follow-up.)
“[Chip] is part of a new generation, where everything is out in the open and instead of people protesting, you have people celebrating,” Royal said. “Whereas something was secret or a rumor before, this one has something that goes very public very fast, and throws our characters into a whole different situation. We’ll follow the same throughline of a character who is helping another person and, farcically, it spins out of control.”
Royal — who also wrote the teen-centric Freeform series “Recovery Road” — further teased that, the way “Easy A” questioned “The Scarlet Letter,” the new movie will explore the sexual politics of “a popular piece of literature, but this one’s not a novel.” His only clue: “It’s gonna be wild.”
Additionally, it will showcase the prevalent preoccupation with social media. “Right now the movie’s opening scene is about different characters’ channels, and watching that number of likes go up. It was so fun to do.”
The new premise seems highly unlikely that Stone, Badgley or Bynes will star, though Royal would not be opposed to their cameos. It also leaves room for the return of Tucci and Clarkson, who played Olive and Chip’s open-minded parents, as well as Church (who played Olive’s teacher) and Armisen, who appeared briefly as the community pastor.
“Because it’s set in the same world, we’re hoping we can get as many people from the original as we can,” said Royal. “They all have parts, if they want them.”