These days superhero movies are among the most successful films released. But 15 years ago, it wasn’t like that. So when Disney released a movie called Sky High in 2005, it came and went without much fanfare.
The film was kind of a live-action twist on The Incredibles with some Harry Potter sprinkled in. It centred on a superhero family sending their son to school to learn to become a hero — Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston were the parents, Michael Angarano was the son, Mary Elizabeth Winstead was the villain, it was all very awesome.
And though it wasn’t a major hit, the film did make its money back and still has a lot of fans today, myself included. This week, its director Mike Mitchell told us a bit about what he and his team had in place all those years ago in case it became a massive hit.
“I am hugely proud of it and they should make it a franchise,” Mitchell told us while promoting his new movie, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part. “In fact the same writers that didn’t get credit on it, [Jonathan] Aibel and [Glenn] Berger, they did a lot of writing on that film, and we have a whole sequel that’s called Save U [which stands for] Save University.”
Because after you graduate Sky High School, what’s next? Save University.
“[But] the only way you can do it is if you bring back all [the actors],” Mitchell said. “Mary Elizabeth Winstead has to be in it. Michael Angarano, Kurt Russell has to come back. But that was such a fun film to make.”
In fact, Mitchell revealed that in addition to coming up with Save U, Disney went a step further at the time to try and lock in Sky High as a franchise.
“Except for Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston, every actor signed a contract to make it into a TV show,” Mitchell said. “That was going to be Disney’s plan. But what happened was, when it came out, it was kind of an underdog that no one knew about. [Also] it came out against Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Tim Burton-Johnny Depp one, and then no one knew that March of the Penguins, a documentary, [would become] the hugest family film of all time.”
So with competition from those other family films, Sky High didn’t reach sky high heights. Still, Mitchell is proud that his film struck a chord with comic book fans in a way that wasn’t quite the norm in those years.
“If you remember, at the time, comic book fans were not into the jokes,” Mitchell said. “There was the Ben Stiller movie Mystery Men and people were like, ‘No, thank you.’ My Super Ex-Girlfriend? That was [another]. A bunch of parodies were happening and the comic book fans were not into it. And I think with Sky High they could tell that we loved comic books, and we’re just having fun in that world. I’m so thankful that everyone noticed it.”
We contacted Disney to see if they had any comments or additions on Mitchell’s statements but had not heard back at time of writing. For now, we can only dare to dream of a world where Sky High was a hit and we saw the franchise continue.
“Dude, I’m ready to go,” Mitchell joked about the sequel. “It’s up to you. Just write that it’s happening.”
We’ll have more on Mitchell’s new movie, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, leading up to its release on March 21.