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Anchorman almost became a musical, and now it’s all we want

Adam McKay and Will Ferrell seriously considered mounting a Broadway musical version of Anchorman before making the sequel that came out in 2013.

The 2000s were one of the best times for comedy movies, with the frat-pack ruling the waves and putting out the likes of Zoolander, Dodgeball, Team America, Napoleon Dynamite, Tropic Thunder, Step Brothers and more. And one of the undoubted best was 2004’s Anchorman. While we did end up getting a (slightly disappointing) sequel in 2013, it turns out that we almost got something much better – a Broadway musical! The Broadway stage has been crying out for Ron Burgundy’s jazz flute ever since.

While discussing the sequel in 2013, writer/director Adam McKay and writer/star Will Ferrell revealed to EW that they got quite far with the plans for a musical; “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’d shoot it.”

“We were ready to go,”  says David Koechner, who plays the blustery sports guy Champ Kind. “We were going to rehearse in the spring and run all summer, and that fall we were going to shoot the new movie. I was very excited.”

“We had our story arc, we were kicking around song ideas, we may have even contacted a Broadway producer at one point informally,” McKay says. “We even had a discussion about what we’d do at the end of the six months: Would we have a replacement cast? Would people come see it if it was, for instance, Alec Baldwin doing Ron Burgundy instead of Will?”

“We had dinner with Josh Gad once, and I was asking him about The Book of Mormon,” Ferrell says. “I said, ‘I’m just curious: How long did it take for you guys to put that together?’ And he was like, ‘Well, we workshopped it for four years …’ We had no real idea how much work it takes to mount a musical.”

Shrek the Musical

“I still think it’s a great idea and it would have been incredibly fun to do,” says Steve Carell, who plays loveable but simple weatherman Brick Tamland. “It would have been crazy,” Ferrell says with a shrug. He laughs. “I think on some level we would have sold it on how bad it was.”

Broadway and West End musicals based on comedy movies are now ten-a-penny, but that wasn’t really the case a decade ago. Some examples include Waitress, Legally Blonde, Mean Girls, Heathers, and Groundhog Day. Also, wild concepts such as the Shrek musical, the SpongeBob musical and the Beetlejuice musical are now realities. Let’s hope that Ferrell and McKay reconsider the Anchorman musical, because we’re fully on board.