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'Pitch Perfect 2': EW preview

Posted on

Richard Cartwright

STARRING Anna Kendrick, Elizabeth Banks, Rebel Wilson

DIRECTED BY Elizabeth Banks

RATED PG-13

RELEASE DATE May 15

A cappella is all about keeping time, and Hailee Steinfeld was late. The 18-year-old actress, who made her feature debut in Joel and Ethan Coen’s 2010 Western True Grit, had been cast as Emily—the newest freshman member of the collegiate singing sensation the Barden Bellas—in Pitch Perfect 2. But she’d already broken new-girl rule No. 1: She was tardy. “I got off the plane and went into dance rehearsal that they were already two weeks into, which in Bellas time is a lot of work,” she says. “I think the girls were like, ‘Let’s see if this girl can jump in with us.’”

When Pitch Perfect 2 hits theaters on May 15, 32 months will have passed since moviegoers first saw Beca (Anna Kendrick), Chloe (Brittany Snow), Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), and the rest of the Bellas. Their all-gal pop mash-ups earned $117 million worldwide, launched the earworm “Cups” into the stratosphere, and turned a modest movie about college singers into a cult sensation. Now they just have to do it again. “You go from having no expectations, and then [the movie] explodes at an epic level,” says Universal film-music president Mike Knobloch. “All of a sudden the bar is raised, and you have to be at least that good or better.”

Steinfeld’s Emily is just one new facet of the reinvented Bellas, who, three years later, have tasted the heights of fame, only to have an unfortunate mid-performance accident (involving Fat Amy) drop-kick them to the bottom of the aca–food chain. As Beca and the rest of the seniors prepare to graduate, the Bellas must claw their way back to the top via a worldwide singing competition. “It’s bigger, it’s more global, the performance numbers aren’t in teeny auditoriums, and the Bellas are sort of famous,” says director and producer Elizabeth Banks, who also reprises her role as acerbic competition commentator Gail. “People forget that in the first movie the Bellas sang ‘The Sign,’ like, four times, the same tired stuff the whole movie. This time, we really got to showcase them and show a group at its peak to the rest of the world.”

Everything about this production feels bigger: 58 songs were cleared for the film; Grammy-winning group Pentatonix joined the cast, as well as German YouTube star Flula Borg and the Green Bay Packers; Rebel Wilson trained with Cirque du Soleil for a silks routine—silks! And there are bulked-up roles for the musicians whose songs were sought for the movie. Jessie J, for instance, loved the first film and wrote a song for the sequel.

The cast was game for anything. As it turned out, they needed to be. “They didn’t give us a script until a week before we started rehearsing, so it was all really scary,” says Kendrick, who had reservations about jumping aboard without a screenplay. “But it felt weird [to think] about it happening without me. The idea of all the girls being here and me being somewhere else was just…total FOMO.” (That means “fear of missing out,” Gramps.) So here’s the $100 million question: Will there be a Pitch Perfect 3? “At this moment, there is no definitive story line for another movie,” Banks says. But she’s open to the idea of a franchise. And who knows? Maybe the new girl could become the new face of the Bellas…at least until she graduates. “I can definitely see [Emily] taking that older-sister role and introducing a whole new group of people,” Steinfeld says. She might even get there early next time. —with additional reporting by Tim Stack