Setting Up Shop
In Barbershop 2: Back in Business, customers still come into Calvin's South Side barbershop to get a haircut, and they walk out with an earful of anything from politics to sports to a blow-by-blow account of somebody else's business. Every community has a place where people congregate to exchange stories, laugh, seek guidance, or just hang out - Calvin's shop is one of those places.
When the original Barbershop was released in fall 2002, it was an unexpected word-of-mouth hit. Audiences loved the straight talk, no-holds-barred hilarity of the film - so much so that the filmmakers quickly knew a return visit to the shop was imminent. With plenty of sass, a lot of heart, and richly drawn characters brought to life by a talented cast, there was plenty more for the filmmakers to explore and keep audiences entertained with for a sequel. Work on the second script began just a few weeks after Barbershop's fall 2002 release.
Original Barbershop producers Robert Teitel and George Tillman, Jr., returned to produce the sequel, teaming with MGM production-executive-turned-producer Alex Gartner. In discussing how they approached story ideas for Barbershop 2, Tillman says, "So many stories can be told in a neighborhood and in a barbershop; it just felt very organic to pick up where we left off." That meant heading back to Calvin's shop and exploring more of what makes a local barbershop so special to the community - and so funny for fans.
"The first movie was about Calvin discovering how important the barbershop is to him," says producer Gartner. "The second movie is about Calvin discovering how important the shop is to the neighborhood and the people who live there."
All kinds of people visit a barbershop. Rich or poor, black or white, young or old, smart or naive - everyone eventually needs a trim. A shop becomes a microcosm of society and, as a film setting, allows for a rich, diverse, and amusing cast of characters. The producers created a real community for the first film and went back to expand that community for the sequel. In fact, community is what it's all about.
"Barbershop 2 explores how a community copes with change," says Tillman, "especially when change threatens to destroy what makes a community unique. This time we look at how change affects the attitudes of the people that live and work there, and how everyone continues to change in their own lives regardless of what's going on around them. There's lots of stuff going on in this one."
According to producer Teitel, it was important they developed the sequel with an eye on contemporary issues. After all, it was the first film's timeliness and outspoken opinions that helped make it a hit. For Barbershop 2, the filmmakers stepped back and took a look at what's going on in urban societies today. "We centered on the issue of gentrification in the neighborhood," says Teitel. "Chicago, New York, Los Angeles - it's happening everywhere, and for all the benefits gentrification can bring, it also causes some serious side effects. It was important we showed both sides of how it affects a community - the good and bad."
After starting the script with screenwriter Don D. Scott using the same characters created for the original by Mark Brown, the producers concentrated on getting the original cast members back on board for a sequel. "The only acceptable solution was to put the entire ensemble together again," says Gartner. Luckily, every single member of Calvin's crew was immediately ready to sign on again. Then the producers turned their efforts to finding the right director for the project. After hearing his vision of what Barbershop 2 could be and accomplish, the filmmakers decided on helmer Kevin Rodney Sullivan.
"We loved Kevin's work on How Stella Got Her Groove Back," says Tillman. "We knew he'd have respect for Barbershop's characters and lead us on the righ
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