Anchorman Was Originally A Survival Film, According to Will Ferrell


Will Ferrell reveals original Anchorman plot focused on plane crash, killer orangutans.


Anchorman is one of the most quoted cult-comedy hits of the last decade, but it was far from being an instant hit. It was a slow roll of positive word-of-mouth and home video viewing before Anchorman became the showcase of zany quotables that it is today, and according to Will Ferrell, it was also an uphill battle to get the movie made in the first place.

In a guest appearance on The Bill Simmons Podcast, Ferrell recalled this darker, loonier incarnation of what eventually made it to the big screen in 2004: “The first version of Anchorman is basically the movie Alive, where the year is 1976, and we are flying to Philadelphia to celebrate the Bicentennial, and also, all the newsmen from around the country are flying in from their affiliates to have some big convention.”

Ferrell continued, “Ron convinces the pilot that he knows how to fly the charter jet, and he immediately crash-lands it in the mountains. And it’s just the story of them surviving and trying to get off the mountainside. They clipped a cargo plane, and the cargo plane crashed as well, close to them, and it was carrying only boxes of orangutans and Chinese throwing stars. So throughout the movie we’re being stalked by orangutans who are killing, one by one, the team off with throwing stars."

While this version of Anchorman never made it past the idea stage, there was an different cut of the movie released on home media called Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie to accompany the theatrical version. Wake Up was made up of deleted scenes and excised storylines, like the news team tracking a gang of bank robbers called The Alarm Clock. While it's considered by some to be a sequel, it's really just an alternative way the main plot played out. The true sequel, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, was released in 2013.

There's still no word on if Anchorman 3 will ever be made, but considering what Anchorman 2 showed (like Brick using a gun from the future and the ghost of Stonewall Jackson), including orangutans with throwing stars would be relatively tame.