A freakin’ Napoleon Dynamite sequel? Sweet! Nearly two decades after the 2004 indie cult comedy introduced audiences to a trio of oddballs — misfit mouth-breather Napoleon (Jon Heder), high school class president candidate Pedro (Efren Ramirez), and Glamour Shots artisan and home-woven handicrafts maker Deb (Tina Majorino) — Heder says there could be a 20-years-later second chapter. But don’t expect a return to Preston Senior High School: Heder wants Napoleon Dynamite 2 to be darker and take place in real time. During a recent appearance at Pittsburgh’s Steel City Con, Heder had this to say about a potential sequel to Jared Hess’ offbeat comedy:
“There’s no official statement right now,” Heder said before asking the convention crowd: “Would you want a Napoleon sequel? You don’t think it would be ruined?”
“The track record for most of these old cult films getting a sequel or reboot is [iffy],” Heder continued, pointing to poorly-received years-later comedy sequels like Dumb and Dumber To and Bad Santa 2. Despite a bad track record for follow-ups to beloved cult comedies, Heder said he “personally would love to do more Napoleon stuff. I would love to.”
“I don’t think the book of Napoleon is closed forever. I honestly think there’s gonna be something — whether it’s a sequel, or a TV show, or another animated [show],” Heder added of the short-lived 2012 animated series that ran for six episodes on Fox. “Did you guys see the animated series? It’s pretty good. That’s your sequel, right there. We had the original cast back, it was awesome. It just goes to show that because we had that show, it means there’s more out there I honestly think you could do.”
In 2004, Fox Searchlight Pictures acquired Napoleon at the Sundance Film Festival before partnering with Paramount Pictures and MTV Films — behind such films as Beavis and Butthead and Jackass — to co-present Napoleon Dynamite to a wider teen and young adult audience in theaters. Under the deal, Fox Searchlight would distribute Napoleon in the U.S. and Canada, with Paramount handling international distribution.
Since Disney’s 2019 acquisition of 21st Century Fox — including Searchlight Pictures and 20th Television — Heder believes in the franchise potential of Napoleon Dynamite.
“Now that Fox properties are owned by Disney, we know how Disney feels about cashing in on everything that’s ever been made,” Heder said. “So you never know. Maybe we’ll be back. I honestly don’t think it’s dead. There’s gotta be something.” Heder then warned against expecting Napoleon to don another “Vote for Pedro” shirt or show off his sick dance moves: if there’s a Napoleon Dynamite 2, it would take place 20 years post-high school.
“In my personal opinion, if there was a Napoleon sequel, it would have to be real time. We wouldn’t do, ‘It’s senior year, and it’s a bunch of 40-year-olds pretending they’re still in high school,’” Heder said. “If it was coming from me — I don’t know how much they’re going to listen to me — but prepare yourselves, it’s gonna be dark.”
In his impromptu pitch, Heder imagined a less-than-freakin’-sweet future for a middle-aged Napoleon, his brother Kip (Aaron Ruell), and their get-rich-quick-scheming ex-football star uncle Rico (Jon Gries).
“Part of the charm of Napoleon is the innocence of youth. They’re in high school, they don’t have any real responsibility or accountability too much, it’s all coming of age,” Heder said. “Napoleon today would be: he’s entered the workforce, he’s got responsibility, he’s paying for maybe one or two alimonies, child support for one of them.”
Heder added: “But it’s great because it also gives our hero a very low place to start and he’s got to win back Deb, maybe, and he’s got to save Uncle Rico from prison, and Kip is actually roided-out from cage fighting. So Napoleon and Kip are getting there and Kip is tearing people up. I don’t know, there’s something there.”
Napoleon Dynamite is now streaming on HBO Max.