Do you remember the excellent, short-lived animated series Clone High that aired on MTV back in 2002? Well, like the historical clones that it featured, the show may be getting new life thanks to directing duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller. They’re on a bit of a hot streak now that they have three critically acclaimed hits on their resume: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street and The LEGO Movie. Their newest film, 22 Jump Street, is already receiving pretty positive reviews and should prove to be another success.
Before Lord and Miller made the big jump to the silver screen though, they co-created Clone High with Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence. For those unfamiliar with it, the show was set in a high school run as an elaborate military experiment, with a student body that consisted entirely of clones of historical figures. The school was run by a government office called the Secret Board of Shadowy Figures, with the intent of harnessing the students’ various strengths and abilities for the United States military. The main characters were the naive and awkward Abe Lincoln, cynical goth Joan of Arc, wild party animal Gandhi, handsome and popular JFK, and mean-spirited cheerleader Cleopatra.
The concept is just as weird as it sounds, but actually led to an incredibly fun and imaginative show, which sadly only ran for 13 episodes before getting cancelled. However, it garnered quite the fanbase, became a cult classic and picked up the reputation of being one of the best animated shows of all time.
Lord and Miller recently spoke with Collider about 22 Jump Street, and were asked about their ongoing desire to bring Clone High back from the dead. However, just as they recently said about including Marvel characters in future LEGO Movie sequels, it all comes down to rights issues:
Miller: “We talk very regularly now with Bill every few months or so, we talk about ‘How are we going to get this back in whatever form we can?’ We get our lawyers to talk to each other, and business affairs people to talk to each other. It’s very complicated.”
Lord: “And then we get tired.”
Miller: “It’s very hard (laughs). Because it’s at Viacom/MTV, we have a TV deal at Fox, he has a TV deal at Warner Bros. It’s all very complicated, and then it’s ‘should we do a movie, or a TV show, or whatever?’ But, we’re working on it! It’s hard!”
While it would make sense for Clone High to come back as an animated show, perhaps on streaming networks like Hulu or Netflix, Lord and Miller expressed an interest in bringing the characters to the big screen. However, that comes with its own challenges, specifically with how to properly translate the material to film while keeping it as marketable as possible.
Lord: “It’s also a tricky thing because we basically made a PG-13 TV series, and if you’re gonna do a movie you wonder, ‘Am I gonna have to justify the budget that it’s gonna take by trying to broaden this to a family audience, and is that gonna kill what was fun about the original thing?’ Because there’s so much blood in the original series (laughs).”
Miller: “And innuendo or whatever.”
Lord: “And JFK sex jokes. Are you going to wind up defanging it?”
Miller: “Are you gonna make it R? PG-13?”
Lord: “It’s trying to cross-reference what it’s gonna cost and what it’s gonna make.”
As you may know, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are tackling a similar issue with their R-rated animated feature Sausage Party, which just got the greenlight for a 2016 release. Miller and Lord cite that film as inspiration for Clone High’s translation to the big screen:
Miller: “[Hard R-rated animated films] I think is a hole in the marketplace, because people love R-rated comedies and there’s teen boys that love all the Family Guy, Simpsons-type of shows. There’s a market there for that.”
Lord: “The Simpsons Movie was PG-13. It had male-frontal nudity in it.”
Miller: “South Park movie was R. There’s a place that people are not occupying thinking that animated has to be family always, and I don’t think that’s true. I think [Sausage Party] is gonna do great. Those guys are so funny and talented.”
Lord: “We’ve been riding those guys’ coattails for a long time, so we might as well keep it going.”
Miller: (laughs) “They’re paving the way.”
Lord: “Seriously, if Superbad doesn’t happen, I don’t think Jump Street ever happens.”
As a huge fan of both Clone High and Lord and Miller, I would absolutely love to see this movie get made. They have a perfect sense of comedy that could translate this weird concept into a successful feature film, and have the proof sitting right there in their resume. If they can make cheeseburgers raining from the sky a viable animated feature, they could absolutely make historical clones going to high school something worth checking out on the big screen.
Tell us, what are your thoughts on a potential Clone High feature film? Were you a fan of the original show? Let us know in the comments below.