Will There Ever Be Another Naked Gun Movie?

Another Naked Gun movie is on the way with Liam Neeson in the lead role.

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

naked gun

Decades ago, the Paramount Pictures movie The Naked Gun delivered an absolutely pitch-perfect parody of police procedurals. Headlined by star Leslie Nielsen, these movies are always good for a laugh, and fans have been waiting for the next installment since 1994. We decided to figure out if there will ever be another Naked Gun movie, and it looks like the answer is an enthusiastic “yes.” 

As longtime fans know, The Naked Gun did not begin life as a film series. Instead, the first film was a follow-up to the 1982 TV show Police Squad! which spoofed various police shows. It starred Leslie Nielsen, a man who made an art of mixing deadpan humor with killer wordplay and side-splitting sight gags. The show only lasted for six episodes, but it proved to be popular enough to warrant a film adaptation six years later.

The name of the first film in the franchise, The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!, paid homage to the television roots of the franchise. In this movie and the sequels that followed, Nielsen reprised his role as Detective Frank Drebin. The first film focused on a wonderfully insane plot about using hypnosis to assassinate Queen Elizabeth.

The movie is full of fascinating stars that range from very fun (like Star Trek’s Ricardo Montalbán) to very creepy (can we all agree it’s weird to watch O.J. Simpson play a detective?).

Fortunately for Nielsen and everyone involved, The Naked Gun was a critical and commercial hit. It currently has an 86 percent critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and it earned an impressive $152.4 million worldwide. And that was enough to guarantee this cinematic adaptation of a television show would get a sequel.

After the 1988 debut of the inaugural The Naked Gun film, one sequel was released in 1991: The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear. The third entry in the franchise, Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult, came out in 1994, and it featured Nielsen’s character as having retired from the police force. Nearly three decades ago, it seems they were already signaling that it was time to wrap this franchise up.

Despite that third Naked Gun film getting mixed reviews from critics and making a lower box office than any of the others ($132 million worldwide), nostalgia for the franchise has led to multiple attempts to bring it back over the years.

In 2009, Leslie Neilsen was going to return in a made-for-TV movie called The Naked Gun 4: Rhythm of Evil, where he’d be training a rookie cop. But when Paramount inexplicably wanted Neilsen removed from the film altogether, writer Alan Spencer walked away and the film never got made.

In 2013, Paramount Pictures announced plans to reboot The Naked Gun with The Office star Ed Helms taking over as someone named Frank Drebin but having “no relation” to the previous character.

Despite early studio enthusiasm, the script was still being written in 2015 and then rewritten in 2017. It looked like the reboot might land in development hell, but these plans got a shot of adrenaline in 2021.

That was when Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane was hired to help develop The Naked Gun reboot. It wasn’t clear at the time what McFarlane’s exact title would be, but he had an immediate influence on the casting. He said way back in 2015 that he’d want Liam Neeson to play the lead character in a reboot, and once MacFarlane joined the reboot, he got Paramount interested in that idea as well.

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In early 2022, Liam Neeson confirmed that Paramount was still asking him to star in a reboot of The Naked Gun, and by October of that year, the studio confirmed that the reboot was greenlit. Neeson would star as the lead.

Seth MacFarlane is credited as a producer on the film and Akiva Schaffer is going to direct. Earlier this year, Neeson projected that the movie could be shooting as early as summertime, but since it did not yet have a finished script, the writer’s strike is likely to delay any production plans.

Still, for fans that have been waiting nearly three decades for another Naked Gun movie, it’s great to know that one is finally on the horizon. Additionally, Neeson is inspired casting: people tend to forget that Leslie Neilsen began his acting career with very serious roles, only pivoting to comedy later in life.

Given all the intensity he brought to the Taken films, we think it’s high time Neeson got to use his very particular set of skills to make us laugh.