Will Ferrell and Adam McKay almost made Anchorman 2 a musical, but it was too much work.
The first Anchorman movie featured a great spontaneous musical moment. When asked about love, Will Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy prompts a stirring rendition of Starlight Vocal Band’s “Afternoon Delight.” Now, what if the entirety of Anchorman 2 featured the cast bursting into song (and dance)?
Well, it almost went down exactly like that. According to Will Ferrell and Anchorman director Adam McKay, Anchorman 2 was almost a Broadway musical. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly before the sequel’s release, McKay talked about how the musical concept almost became a reality, saying “We thought we could kind of do the old Marx Brothers model where we perfected it onstage for six months, got all the jokes tight, and then we shot it.”
Apparently, the idea sprouted after Will Ferrell had a successful Broadway run playing former President George W. Bush in You’re Welcome America. However, the Anchorman 2 musical was never meant to be, as the prospect became a little too lofty for the cast and crew to take on. Essentially, they realized that the musical would have been a lot more work than a straightforward comedy movie, so now we have Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, which is a pretty great consolation prize.
While Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues was never going to live up to the high expectations of its predecessor, which was a decade old at the time of the sequel’s release, it did find a lot more box office success. The first Anchorman did fine, with $90.7 million worldwide, but the sequel nearly doubled that bringing in $173.6 million worldwide. It’s no surprise though, as Will Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy and the rest of the Channel 4 news team became cultural comedic icons in the wake of the first movie’s release.
Looking back at the cast of the first movie, it’s honestly a little surprising that Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy wasn’t a bigger success. The movie featured peak Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Steve Carrell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Fred Willard, Chris Parnell, Kathryn Hahn, and plenty of other comedic greats in bit roles. It was also the feature-length directorial debut of Adam McKay, whose career has only exploded since then.
In addition to directing Will Ferrell in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, McKay would go on to direct him in several other comedy classics, including Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Step Brothers, and The Other Guys. After becoming one of the most reliable directors for solid, goofy comedy films, McKay would pivot to prestige films like The Big Short and Vice, winning an Oscar for The Big Short in the process. At the recent Academy Awards, he got two nominations for his work on Don’t Look Up.
Although Will Ferrell hasn’t starred in a McKay film for a while, the two have been absolutely crushing it with the projects they produce together. Ferrell and McKay are both executive producers on Succession — arguably the best show on TV right now. The Emmys voters seem to agree, as the series recently won Oustanding Drama Series at the 2022 ceremony.
This isn’t the first time that Will Ferrell and Adam McKay have taken home top-tier Emmys for Succession. The series won the same award in 2020 and has received 13 Emmy wins total, with tons of nominations. However, just because Will Ferrell is mostly producing with McKay, rather than starring in his films, doesn’t mean that we won’t be seeing Ferrell the actor soon.
While we likely won’t ever get to see an Anchorman musical, we will get to see Will Ferrell in a musical role before the end of the year in Spirited. Spirited is a musical retelling of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol with Ryan Reynolds as Ebenezer Scrooge and Ferrell as the Ghost of Christmas Present.
The most anticipated movie on Will Ferrell’s docket is definitely the upcoming Barbie movie. Barbie has a ton of hype behind it, so hopefully, it’ll live up to expectations. Margot Robbie is playing the titular role with Ryan Gosling playing Ken and Greta Gerwig is directing and co-writing the screenplay with Noah Baumbach.
While we wait for Will Ferrell’s upcoming projects, you can check him out in the 2021 series The Shrink Next Door on Apple TV+. The Shrink Next Door stars Will Ferrell with his Anchorman co-star Paul Rudd as his psychiatrist. Otherwise, you could always go back and watch the Anchorman movies — both are valid options.