Pitch Perfect 2 Puts Elizabeth Banks in the Female Comedy Directors Club

19 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

17 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the Music in Pitch Perfect 2.

By virtue of the highly anticipated sequel making $70.3 million during the opening weekend alone, Banks joined a relatively exclusive club: female directors of successful, mainstream comedies. The night before she interviewed for the executive music producer job of Pitch Perfect, the 2012 comedy about the idiosyncratic world of collegiate a capella, Julianne Jordan got a surprise phone call from another music supervisor she knew, Julia Michels, up for the same job. “Did you read this script?” Michels remembers asking incredulously.

The Barden Bellas and the Treblemakers, who return in the film Pitch Perfect 2, have found a way to cram even more songs per square airwave in their mash-ups.The ladies of ‘‘Pitch Perfect 2’’ hit all the right notes opening weekend, amassing a $70.3 million debut, according to Rentrak estimates Sunday.

The Elizabeth Banks-directed sequel to the 2012 sleeper hit cost Universal Pictures only $29 million to produce and was expected to open in the $50 million range. Photo: RICHARD CARTWRIGHT/Universal Pictures via Associated Press Heading into the weekend, analysts expected the sequel to premiere in the $40 million range.

The film once again follows the comeback story of the Barden University Bellas, who are recovering from yet another public humiliation (“Muffgate,” draw your parallels if you must). You’ve come a long way from “You taste like a burger.” But yes, unfortunately, there aren’t many female directors – and they usually don’t direct comedies. Music supervisors typically work in post-production with pre-existing tracks, but Pitch Perfect producers had to consider hundreds of tunes for its many musical moments—the sequel, out now, features more than 60 songs—and start the process of recording all-new versions before cameras start rolling. Let’s hope one day it’s not so unusual for a woman to helm a successful comedy that’s not a romcom, not an animated family feature, and not a bittersweet dramedy in which characters “come to terms with things.” Today, Heckerling is probably best known as the director of Clueless, a movie about teenage girls that found across-the-board success. It’s a process that requires a lot of manpower: a team of 20 people, including producers, arrangers and editors, worked on Pitch Perfect 2‘s music.

But in 1982, she cut her teeth directing this landmark teen movie, and in between she also directed National Lampoon’s European Vacation and the Look Who’s Talking movies. You might expect that 1983’s Valley Girl was directed by a woman, but Coolidge also directed the 1985 Val Kilmer comedy Real Genius as well as a host of other works. Thanks in no small part to the music, the first film grossed $113 million worldwide, spawned a platinum soundtrack and turned Anna Kendrick into an unlikely chart-topper. Holdovers ‘‘Avengers: Age of Ultron,’’ ‘’Hot Pursuit,’’ and ‘‘Furious 7’’ claimed the rest of the spots in the top five. (AP) David Lynch’s exit from Showtime’s revival of ‘‘Twin Peaks’’ turned out to be just another plot twist.

Its soundtrack was the best-selling soundtrack of 2013, with star Anna Kendrick’s performance of “Cups” peaking at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. However, Riff Off starts with an enjoyable rendition of the Thong Song and cycles through a dizzying array of booty-praising tunes in a short span, losing its head to its own ingenuity. Big is another film that seems so focused on men – the problems of not yet being a man, the problems with being a man – that it’s notable that the director wasn’t a man.

We wanted to introduce more rock in the movie, a little more EDM.” Though everybody has opinions on what should go in the movie, the meetings don’t get particularly heated. “At the end of the day, I get to decide!” Banks laughs. “Everyone knows that.” The cast has no formal involvement in picking the songs. The ballad, poignant and memorable, is one of the album’s highlights, while singer-songwriter Ester Dean brings a modern EDM feel to the comedy with Crazy Youngsters. When Big came out in 1988, Marshall had already scored a comedy hit with Jumpin’ Jack Flash and would score another in the female-centric A League of Their Own.

I just shouldn’t have anybody’s email address, in fact.” “Wrecking Ball” was an instant favorite for the opening scene. “I knew that I wanted Rebel doing that silks routine before we ever chose the music,” Banks says. “We brought Rebel to Cirque do Soleil in L.A. and made sure she could move around in those silks. Women made up about 75% of the opening-weekend audience for “Pitch Perfect 2.” Overseas, the movie has grossed $38.1 million in 29 territories, with 30 to go. There’s more depth to the daftness of the characters in the world Banks and Higgins have crafted, and certainly a reliance on preemptive conditioning of plot. Once we knew that she could, then it was all about, ‘What’s the funniest way to reintroduce Fat Amy to the world?’ Someone literally played ‘Wrecking Ball’ in the meeting and we all started laughing. The weekend’s other new release, “Mad Max: Fury Road,” with Tom Hardy as Max and Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa, landed in second place with $44.4 million.

When it hits you, that’s clearly the one.” Kendrick wanted to sing a different song with Snoop Dogg during his cameo. “I was asking if I could sing something cooler than the song that I sang because it’s essentially a children’s song,” Kendrick says. “So that was a seriously embarrassing day to have to sing a children’s Christmas carol in front of Snoop, who is arguably the coolest man on the planet. At the center of the Bellas, Beca (Kendrick) attempts to find balance between a demanding record production internship with an even more demanding boss (Keegan-Michael Key is fantastic) and her integral, but fleeting role creating the musical arrangements for the group. He was incredibly chill and was just very cool, really funny, and had fingernail art, which was really exciting to me.” Song selection is often a numbers game. “When you’re mashing up songs, an even beat does not mash well with an uneven beat,” Banks says. “127 [beats per minute] and 135 don’t match. Beca’s surly nature — enhanced by Kendrick’s own well-publicized and documented devil-may-care demeanor — grounds the cast, who flick in and out of her orbit, speaking in punchlines and euphonies. It’s gonna be hard to replicate working with my husband on something that I was involved with from its inception.” “I will say, it would be disingenuous to say that no one’s talking about a Pitch Perfect 3; the possibility of it,” she said. “We are really focused on getting as many butts in seats for this one.

Like its predecessor, Pitch Perfect 2’s reliance on racial and cultural stereotypes to define its lesser characters quickly becomes exhausting and feels lazy the second time around. As I was leaving Tuesday’s screening, behind crowds of diehards, contest winners, and a cappella enthusiasts, I overheard a group of college-aged students discussing just how “racist” the movie was. “I can’t believe they took it as far as they did,” said one.

They’re just amazing beatboxers that really helped fill out the arrangements.” There isn’t much difference between real-life a capella and movie a capella. “The bells and whistles we put on [the songs] are maybe in some of the background vocals, but an a capella group could take what we did and sing it as well on stage,” Michels says. “The thing about a capella is you can’t hide behind the music.” With one exception, she notes: “An a capella group couldn’t do the choreography that they’re doing and probably sound as good.” Songs occasionally get cut because there’s no one to sing them. “Sometimes we find that there’s no one we think is going to vocally knock it out of the park,” Banks explains. “We are always thinking about what is going to show off our stars. In this iteration, Chloe (Brittany Snow) reveals she’s failed a Russian lit class three times as to stay a Bella since the student group has become her family, and she’s too fearful to move on from college. Of course we want to set up everyone to win—we don’t want anyone to be challenged.” Getting permission to use the songs can also be an obstacle. “The business and the mechanics of that can get very, very complicated,” Knobloch says. “Can we clear them affordably?

Meanwhile, newcomer Bella Florencia “Flo” Fuentes (Chrissie Fit), a South American exchange student, continuously diffuses tense situations with awkward references to her despondency over her impending deportation. But unlike traditional musicals, which rely on original lyrics, the music team looked for more subtle ways to advance the plot. “For us, it’s in the arrangements and the song choices, not so much what they’re singing,” Michels says. “If the Bellas are tight and their performance is supposed to be amazing, we look for songs that are exciting and melodic. If we’re drawing a line between comedies and romantic comedies, most of Nora Ephron’s directorial work falls on the far side of that line – When Harry Met Sally… and Bewitched included.

The same goes for Nancy Meyers – The Parent Trap, It’s Complicated – though her upcoming Anne Hathaway film The Intern may skew more “com” than romcom. There’s only one hard and fast rule about what songs go into the movie. “Everything has to have a sense of fun,” Banks says. “It’s not just that [the characters] are underdogs, they’re misfits, they’re all oddballs.

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