Following the success of “Scary Movie,” Friedberg and Seltzer attempted to get other projects off the ground, but ultimately they were pragmatic about how Hollywood works and ended up going back to the well of spoof movies. So, they wrote and directed “Date Movie,” a parody of rom-coms that made $85 million at the box office against a $20 million budget. A movie that was edited by Paul Hirsch, of “Star Wars: A New Hope” fame, no less. “Epic Movie” followed in short order, all while the “Scary Movie” sequels were continuing to make bank as well.
So, what was to be next for the critically maligned, hit-making duo? Given that “300” had just made $456 million globally and became something of a pop culture sensation, they ultimately landed on what would primarily be a send up of that genre. And thus, Fox and the filmmaking duo got to work on “Meet the Spartans.” The film would also tackle other recent hits, such as “Spider-Man 3,” “Happy Feet,” and “Transformers” — though this was not what they had planned as their next movie.
Originally, Friedberg and Seltzer were set to helm “A Christmas Carol,” which would have starred Rainn Wilson and was meant to be his big movie coming out of “The Office.” However, New Regency bailed mere days before production was to begin, reportedly due to budget concerns. So instead, the filmmakers pitched something else. Speaking in a rare interview with Grantland in 2014, Seltzer explained:
“So they don’t do it, and you’re disappointed for a beat, and then you go, ‘Well, OK, what about this?’ And then we sold them ‘Meet the Spartans,’ [which] was a little bit more digestible, and it was something we could have a lot of fun with. They liked the script and they go, ‘OK, yeah, we could feel financially secure about that and you guys could do what you need to do.'”