The Dirty Dancing sequel is ready for liftoff. Director Jonathan Levine will helm a follow-up to the 1987 classic, which he’s producing and co-writing with Elizabeth Chomko, Deadline reports. As previously announced, Jennifer Grey has signed on to reprise her role as “Baby” in the sequel, also titled Dirty Dancing.
“While the original Dirty Dancing has always been one of my favorite films, I never imagined I would direct the sequel,” Levine told Deadline ahead of Lionsgate’s launch of the film at the upcoming Cannes market. “Through co-writing it, I fell in love with the characters (new and old), the world of 1990s Catskills New York, and the music, which will range from songs from the original movie to ‘90s hip-hop. I can’t wait to collaborate with Jennifer to bring this beautiful story of summer and romance and dancing to a generation of new fans. And to the longtime ones, I promise we will not ruin your childhood. We will tackle the assignment with sophistication, ambition, and, above all, love.”
As for which tracks will make it into the sequel’s eclectic mix, Levine confirmed that Eric Carmen’s “Hungry Eyes” will be featured alongside possible music from Alanis Morisette and Liz Phair. Little is known about the plot, but the new film will mirror the original in its focus on a summer camp-set coming-of-age romance. Casting for the lead role is ongoing, although a shortlist of names has reportedly been made.
Grey’s character will factor into the film’s central storyline—and she’s not the only original cast member who may return, Levine said. “The most important thing for us was having Jennifer on board. She is an invaluable collaborator,” he told Deadline. “We’re going to try to involve as many people from the original as is appropriate. We want to be respectful in every way.”
The inclusion of Baby inevitably means addressing the absence of Johnny, who was played by the late Patrick Swazye. This means working with Swayze’s estate to ensure that “Johnny is a part of Baby’s journey in the story,” Levine said, adding, “This film exists in a dialogue with the original. We want to introduce this story to a whole new generation. That said, Johnny’s absence looms large over the story, so it’s a coming-of-age story but also a coming-of-age for Baby’s character in a way.”
This isn’t the first time Dirty Dancing has been reimagined for a new generation. A prequel, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, starring Diego Luna and Romola Garai was released in 2004. Abigail Breslin and Colt Prattes headlined a made-for-made-for-TV remake in 2017. The upcoming Dirty Dancing sequel is expected to begin filming later this year for release in 2024.