'Pitch Perfect 3' Director on Franchise's Future and Leaving Out the Boys

Pitch Perfect 3 Still and Trish Sie - Inset - Getty - H 2017
Getty Images (Sie); Courtesy of Universal Pictures (Still)

Trish Sie also details the cast's "crazy themed parties," the emotional final days of shooting and the film's "girl power-y" action scenes.

It's officially Pitchmas time. 

With Pitch Perfect 3, the latest film in the a cappella franchise that has taken in more than $400 million at the global box office, the Bellas are out in the real world and realizing that perhaps being an adult — and not being a part of the group — is harder than it looks. But when they get the chance to reunite for an overseas USO tour, this group of pitches will come together to make some music, and some very questionable decisions, one last time.

Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins and more reprise their roles and are joined by franchise newcomers John Lithgow and Ruby Rose, in what is being touted as "the Farewell Tour."

However, Trish Sie, who directs in the series for the first time following Banks' departure, tells The Hollywood Reporter that as far as she is concerned, she "would see these movies on and on and on until they started sucking."

Sie sat down with THR ahead of the film's Dec. 22 release to discuss the future of the franchise, the decision to leave out the boys (played by Adam Devine, Ben Platt and Skylar Astin), the crazy cast parties and more.

Were you a fan of the franchise before coming on board?
I had been a fan of the franchise from the first movie. I went into the first movie in the theater not knowing anything about it, and was just kind of blown away by how weird and fun and awesome it was, but also having gone to a college — ironically the same college that both Liz [Banks] and her husband Max went to — that was really a cappella heavy, it rang so true to me. Through all the absurdity it felt really authentic at the same time. So, I’ve been a fan from day one and I think it was just a good match, you know?

So did Elizabeth Banks have any advice for you when you took on the directing duties?
I think the best advice she gave me was to remember to push the envelope. Don’t get too safe. The reason these movies work is because we’re a little irreverent, we’re always a little bit edgy. You know that when you go into it. I certainly pitched myself as the director that would keep all of that alive in the franchise, but it’s very easy when you’re in the middle of it and you’ve got a lot of opinions coming to forget to keep that really, really sacred thing about this franchise protected.

The film is chock-full of crazy moments. Without getting into spoilers, what was your favorite part of this film to shoot?
My favorite stuff was probably all the action on the boat. I’ve always dreamed of doing an action movie, and even though this is not an action movie start to finish, I really put a lot of priority on those scenes because I knew that it was something different for the franchise. The actors loved it, we had a female stunt coordinator who is amazing. We just had such a girl power-y time with all that, and it was pretty magical.

Tell me about the decision to leave out the boys [who appeared in both of the first two films] this time around.
It was a little bit of everything. When I came aboard, the version of the script that was in play already had those decisions made. And maybe I could have fought hard to bring them back if I really disagreed with that decision, but I didn’t, because there was some scheduling stuff involved — Ben Platt is busy winning awards on Broadway [for Dear Evan Hansen] — but I think the main purpose was these girls are moving on with their life. Maybe they’ll get back to these guys at some point. A lot of people don’t end up with their college boyfriend and we wanted it to be about them and their independence and finding their way in the world and moving ahead alone. And it just felt like it was time to make a fresh start.

Why do you think audiences connect with these films so much?
It’s so real. Despite all of this absurd humor, heightened reality, crazy situations and very oddball characters, there’s sort of a kernel of very real truth to them about these different stages of life. So you’ve got college, getting ready to graduate and in this case, being out of college and trying to find your way in the real world. And I think making sure we didn’t forget that helps to kind of ground the film. 

This is being touted as the Farewell Tour, but do you think there’s an opening for a fourth film or a reboot somewhere down the line?
I mean, of course that’s above my pay grade and I have no idea and am not the one making the decisions but as far as I am concerned, I would see these movies on and on and on until they start sucking. I think whether it’s these women in the next stage of life or it’s a new group of women going through these things, I think there are endless ways to chart the course of the girls’ lives and a woman’s life. There’s so many archetypal scenes in these movies that, to me, if you get the right chemistry — and this cast of course has amazing chemistry and that’s why it works — so if you were to do a reboot you’d have to spend a lot of time making the chemistry right. But assuming you can get that — singing, dancing, laughing, solving problems together, unlikely heroes, band of misfits — that stuff is sort of timeless and wonderful and, as far as I am concerned, I would watch it over and over and over again.

Walk me through the last days on set. Were they emotional?
Even though I’ve only been part of one of these three movies, you come onto one of these things and it’s like going away to summer camp or going on a long ocean voyage. You go into a bubble together and you go through all kinds of stuff. From challenges, both creative and logistical, to amazing triumphs. You laugh, you cry, you spend so much time outside of work because you shoot in Atlanta and none of us lived there, except some of the crew. But the cast would have crazy themed parties on the weekend, and go shopping or dress up in drag, or insane wigs, and we had so much fun. Of course it was so much work and rehearsal, too. So when it was over, it was just kind of one of those, like at the end of camp, everyone’s just kind of weepy and all of your nerves feel like they’re outside of your skin because you’re just so emotional and tired and both ecstatically happy and so sad to see it all end. So yeah, it was not a joke how intense it was and it almost didn’t feel like it mattered that I’d only known these people for nine months, it felt like forever.