A new installment in the Dirty Dancing franchise is coming -- this time with original star Jennifer Grey in the mix. After weeks of rumors that something was coming, Lionsgate's CEO today announced it officially during an earnings call that saw the studio's quarter saved by home video. During that time, they got into the Quarantine Watch Party-style livestreams, and one of them was Dirty Dancing. The original, released in 1987, starred Grey and Patrick Swayze and hailed from Vestron, a studio best known for direct-to-VHS horror movies and other B-movie schlock, but who tried to make a name for themselves in the theatrical space as the '90s neared.
According to Deadline, who first reported the story, Warm Bodies director Jonathan Levine is set to produce the project with Gillian Bohrer from a screenplay by Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis (Five Feet Apart, The Curse of La LLorona). There is no word yet on who will direct, or anyone else involved beyond Grey.
"It will be exactly the kind of romantic, nostalgic movie that the franchise's fans have been waiting for and that have made it the biggest-selling library title in the Company’s history," CEO Jon Feltheimer promised.
That's likely a reference to two failed attempts to extend the brand -- the 2004 prequel Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, which dealt with the Cuban revolution of 1959, and a 2011 remake. In both cases, it felt like they were chasing a youth demographic with little connection to the original while fans of the '80s classic had no interest in what they were selling.
In the original Dirty Dancing, Baby (Grey) is one listless summer away from the Peace Corps. Hoping to enjoy her youth while it lasts, she's disappointed when her summer plans deposit her at a sleepy resort in the Catskills with her parents. Her luck turns around, however, when the resort's dance instructor, Johnny (Patrick Swayze), enlists Baby as his new partner, and the two fall in love. Baby's father forbids her from seeing Johnny, but she's determined to help him perform the last big dance of the summer.
Obviously Swayze's untimely passing in 2009 raises questions about how the new film will handle his character -- whether he will be written out, written around, or just not brought up. It's also possible that, in tribute to Swayze, they could give the character a heartfelt sendoff in the first act of the new film.
Grey was an '80s teen idol with memorable roles in Red Dawn, Dirty Dancing, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. She has worked consistently since, with some recent highlights being roles on Phineas and Ferb, Red Oaks, Grey's Anatomy, and The Conners. In addition to the rumors about a Dirty Dancing revival, Grey recently made headlines when she and her husband, Marvel's Agents of SHIELD star Clark Gregg, split after nearly 20 years together.