Will Ferrell. Mark Wahlberg. Tackle football. You game? Warner Bros. is. The studio just bought a pitch for an ensemble comedy that will reunite the stars of last summer’s hit The Other Guys as the heads of two rival families that compete in a vicious annual Thanksgiving football game. Alec Baldwin is set to co-star in the film, which is being scripted by 30 Rock executive producer Robert Carlock and Friends veteran Scott Silveri. For more scoop on the project, EW spoke with Adam McKay, who directed The Other Guys (along with Anchorman, Talladega Nights, and Step Brothers) and is developing the new comedy with Ferrell through their production company, Gary Sanchez Productions.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did this idea originally come about?
ADAM McKAY: The idea was originally conceived for Mark Wahlberg and Alec Baldwin. Owen Burke, who’s a producer at Gary Sanchez, and I were talking about how crazily funny Wahlberg and Baldwin were in The Departed — how, even though it’s not a comedy, we could just watch them all day long. Burke dropped this idea, and I was like, “Oh my God, that’s a movie!” Then Will heard it and he wanted in. It’s an idea that comics love.
What’s the basic idea?
It’s about these two rival families from — we’re thinking Philadelphia but we need to check in with Wahlberg and Ferrell and see what kind of accents they want to do. [Laughs] Alec Baldwin is the patriarch of one of the families, and Wahlberg is his son. He saw the Kennedys playing football on their front lawn at Thanksgiving, and boom, that’s it: “Anything the Kennedys do, we’re doing.” His family starts playing the other family that lives across the park from them. Over the years, Baldwin’s family hasn’t done too well — they own a crappy little bar in town — while the other family, which Will’s character eventually becomes the patriarch of, becomes really successful. The game gets nastier and nastier as the years go on, and Ferrell’s family starts just destroying the other family. After a massive heart attack, Baldwin’s character’s dying wish is that his estranged son, Mark, take over the game and finally win one. So Wahlberg has to put this ramshackle, convict, gambling-addict family back together again and beat the richies. The whole spirit of it is that it’s just a giant, fun ensemble comedy. We want to populate it with people we love. There’s a funny subplot with Rob Riggle where he’s a gay cousin that Wahlberg’s family sort of turned their backs on but he played football at Fresno State and they need him. We’re going to try to get Jeremy Renner to play an ex-con. The idea is to bring in, like, 15 people that we love in and just do a big, funny holiday movie.
It was going to be called Turkey Bowl, but I hear that’s changing.
There’s an indie film that just sold a week or two ago called Turkey Bowl. We’ve had this thing in the works for seven months and we saw that and we’re like, “F—, they’ve got our title!” We’re tentatively calling it Three Mississippi, as a working title.
When are you hoping to start shooting? And are you going to direct it?
I don’t think so. I mean, I always like to reserve that right, since it’s our company. I have this other project [the comic-book adaptation The Boys], but you never know. If we could shoot this thing next spring, with a tight post-production, we could roll it out for that following Thanksgiving. That would be the optimistic, everything-goes-well schedule, which we think we have a chance to hit, given what a fun idea this is.