Cheech and Chong Take Another Hit
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – Think the Cheech & Chong film franchise ended with 1984’s “Cheech & Chong’s The Corsican Brothers?” Think again.
The comedy duo is reuniting after 20 years for a new feature set up at New Line Cinema that will catch up with Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong’s wacky stoner personas in the present day.
The untitled project is in the early stages of development at New Line. Marin and Chong already have worked out a story line and will pen the script along with an additional writer to be recruited by New Line. Robbi Chong, one of Chong’s daughters, will serve as a producer on the project.
“The world is ripe and ready for a new Cheech & Chong movie, especially considering they have a whole new generation of fans out there,” said New Line senior vp production Kent Alterman, who is overseeing the project alongside New Line production president Toby Emmerich. “They came in and told us that they’re ready to do something again, which we think is a great idea.”
After parting company in the mid-1980s, Marin and Chong started talking about working together again about a year ago when they realized that there was a lot of Cheech & Chong-related merchandise being sold — particularly through the Internet — that they weren’t profiting from at all.
The two started talking with Marin’s manager, Power Entertainment CEO David Goldman (who now also represents Chong), about pursuing a licensing deal. At the same time, Chong’s daughters, Robbi and Rae Dawn Chong, had written a script for a feature that included roles for two Cheech & Chong-esque characters.
That got them thinking about the prospect of reuniting onscreen (though the Chong sisters’ script is not the basis for the New Line project), and they quickly realized that they were still very much in sync as writers and performers.
Marin, who is busy preparing for the start of production on his new Fox sitcom “The Ortegas,” said the two have been approached many times over the years to reunite, but the timing never felt right. After their partnership broke up, Marin maintained a laser-like focus on establishing himself as a successful actor in his own right.
“The time finally came where I felt I had distanced myself enough from the old Cheech persona; people have accepted me as an actor,” said Marin, who starred opposite Don Johnson in the CBS cop show “Nash Bridges” from 1996-2001. “I think Tommy and I have a better understanding of each other now, too. Creating with him again is the easiest thing I’ve ever done. It’s so intuitive for us.”
Chong, who most recently has been seen in a recurring role on Fox’s “That ’70s Show,” echoed Marin’s sentiments.
“It feels so good,” he said. “When you’ve been together with someone as long as we were together, there’s a oneness that can’t be broken.”
New Line was their first stop, Marin said, given the studio’s track record with comedy franchises like “Austin Powers.”
Chong credited Marin with having the foresight to allow the anticipation for a Cheech & Chong reunion to build over the years, even as the best of their films and albums achieved comedy-legend status.
“You know me — if anybody wanted me to be in a movie with dope in it, I’m there,” Chong joked. “But Cheech really protected the image. Those characters have been untouched, and now it’s so fun to be back under that classic umbrella.”
The six Cheech & Chong features released between 1978 and 1984 grossed about $150 million domestically. Goldman, who brokered the deal with New Line along with attorney Stan Coleman, called the new feature project “a monumental moment in comedy history that reunites the most successful comedy team since Martin and Lewis.”
Marin said that they are even considering doing a live performance to promote the movie, which is expected to shoot next year during Marin’s hiatus from “The Ortegas.”
For the pair who first hooked up in 1968 in Vancouver — when the Canadian-born Chong was running an improv theater group out of a topless bar — the staying power of their older material, especially the success of the DVD release of the first Cheech & Chong flick, 1978’s “Up in Smoke,” has been gratifying.
“We’ve seen our audience grow and grow, even in the 20 years since we stopped creating stuff,” Marin said. “The albums and the movies have become a rite of passage for each generation as they grow up.”
Chong noted that a little stoner humor from the masters of the form should be a welcome tonic for the turbulent post-Sept. 11 era.
“This is going to be just what everyone’s been needing,” Chong said. “‘Up in Smoke’ sort of put the ’60s in perspective. Now we need to put the ’90s and 2000s in perspective and tell everyone that you can still laugh a little.”
Cheech and Chong Take Another Hit