New Line Cinema also has "House Party II" in pre-production, aiming for a late winter start, and this time out, those two teen-age cut-ups--the rap duo Kid 'n Play--have to grow up.
The sequel "will be a bigger film in every way," says Janet Grillo, New Line's executive on the "under $5-million" production. "The themes will be more mature, but it will still be an entertaining caper comedy."
Kid, the central character, will leave his black neighborhood and head for college, where he will encounter "a whole new world"--including new styles of racism. His father--played by the late Robin Harris in "I"--will have died, and Kid will "take on issues of manhood" as he tries to fulfill his father's hopes.
Actor-comic-playwright Rusty Cundieff wrote the script for the sequel; video and stage director Paris Barclay will direct. (Both are black.) The original film's creators, brothers Reginald and Warrington Hudlin, have moved on to a three-picture deal at Columbia but will serve as executive producers on the sequel.
"House Party," shot for $2.5 million, grossed about $26 million in North America earlier this year. Although New Line hoped to reach a white audience with the picture, Grillo says ticket buyers were "almost exclusively inner-city black teen-agers."
With its collegiate backdrop, she feels, "II" may have "more crossover potential."