We’ve known that Lionsgate was setting up a remake for Dirty Dancing since 2009, but after announcing that they’d hired Julia Dahl (Uptown Girl) to pen the script, news went dry. But, as is the case with any even somewhat viable property (blood from stones, the usual), it looks like we’re still getting that remake, with the news that Lionsgate has picked Kenny Ortega to direct the film.
Dirty Dancing geeks (there have to be some, right? Like, all women everywhere?) will surely note that it was Ortega himself who actually choreographed the original film from 1987, and is the one credited with conceiving of the actual ahem, dirt, of said dirty dancing. Thank you for that, Kenny Ortega.
He also directed two episodes of the Dirty Dancing television show from 1988 that nearly everyone has forgotten existed, which is tragic, because it starred no less than Melora Hardin (The Office) and Paul Feig (Bridesmaids). The show lasted 11 episodes, but I’d cut off my own two feet to get it on DVD.
Beyond his choreography and experience with the DD property, the rest of Ortega’s resume does suit such a project ‐ he helmed all three High School Musical films and the Michael Jackson concert film This Is It. He was long attached to the Footloose remake, before dropping out to focus on the MJ film. Ortega was also set to direct the film version of In The Heights, before Universal dropped that project, so the man is clearly hungry to put on some dancing shoes and carry a watermelon or two.
The Patrick Swazye and Jennifer Grey-starring film is a prime example of a “cult” hit essentially integrating itself into mainstream culture. The original film was made for $6 million and has grossed over $213 million worldwide, thanks to huge video sales and a special ten year anniversary release back in 1997. Vestron, the original production company, closed up shop before they could make a sequel, which is how Lionsgate picked up the film’s rights, eventually allowing them to release the 2004 “sequel” Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights*, which was terrible and awful and weird and sad and also about Communism.
The film has never been billed as less than a remake, so expect to see a “darker, grittier” take on the original material, possibly setting the film somewhere darker and grittier than upstate New York, like…middlestate New York. There’s no word on casting, but with Ortega’s background with Zac Efron (not only did Ortega direct Efron in all three HSM films, he also championed Efron’s long attachment to Footloose before the ‘Ef cut [foot] loose of the project), I’d put myself in a damn corner if we don’t hear whispers of his name attached (he’s like the wind). [Deadline Catskills]
*Correction: Lionsgate did in fact release Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, but they didn’t greenlight or produce the film. They picked it up from Artisan when they bought them, but still, they decided to unleash it onto the people of the Earth, so they’re still culpable for that.