'Dirty Dancin' g Sequel Director Says Movie Will 'Introduce This Story to a Whole New Generation'

"Johnny is a part of Baby's journey in the story," director Jonathan Levine teases of Jennifer Grey and the late Patrick Swayze's Dirty Dancing characters

Dirty Dancing Sequel Jonathan Levine
Dirty Dancing (1987); Jonathan Levine. Photo: Vestron Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection; Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Dirty Dancing is coming back, '90s style.

The highly anticipated sequel to the 1987 romantic dance drama has landed a director — Warm Bodies' and Snatched's Jonathan Levine — and is set to take place in the 1990s at Kellerman's, the same fictional Catskills resort as the original, Deadline reports.

According to the outlet, the film, also titled Dirty Dancing, "will be a coming-of-age romance centered on the experience of a young woman at the summer camp, but Baby's own journey will intertwine with this to create a multi-layered narrative."

Jennifer Grey will reprise her role as Frances "Baby" Houseman. And as Levine, 45, tells Deadline, the late Patrick Swayze's character, Johnny Castle, will be "part of Baby's journey in the story."

"This film exists in a dialogue with the original," Levine revealed. "We want to introduce this story to a whole new generation. That said, Johnny's absence looms large over the story, so it's a coming-of-age story but also a coming-of-age for Baby's character in a way."

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Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey
Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing (1987). Courtesy Everett Collection

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Additionally, the director (who will also co-write alongside What They Had writer-director Elizabeth Chomko) said Grey, 62, may not be the only original cast member to return, 35 years after the first film hit theaters.

"We are about to talk to people and are exploring that," he teased — but "the most important thing for us was having Jennifer on board."

"She is an invaluable collaborator," he told Deadline. "We're going to try to involve as many people from the original as is appropriate. We want to be respectful in every way."

Levine also hinted that music from Liz Phair and Alanis Morissette could grace the soundtrack, "which will range from songs from the original movie" (including "Hungry Eyes" by Eric Carmen) "to '90s hip-hop."

In the original Dirty Dancing, Baby (Grey) is a teenager whose life is changed after she meets sexy, enigmatic dance instructor Johnny (Swayze) at an upscale Catskills resort, Kellerman's, during the summer of 1963.

RELATED VIDEO: Jennifer Grey Reveals Whom She'd Cast in a Dirty Dancing Big-Screen Remake

Grey, who is also set to executive produce the sequel, told PEOPLE back in November 2020 that the film won't try to recapture the chemistry she had with Swayze, who died in 2009 of pancreatic cancer at age 57.

"All I can say is there is no replacing anyone who's passed — you never try to repeat anything that's magic like that," she said at the time. "You just go for something different."

While the upcoming film will be Grey's first Dirty Dancing project since 1987, the first movie has sparked a series of other related projects, including a TV series, a TV movie remake, a musical and the 2004 film Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights.

Levine told Deadline that "the original Dirty Dancing has always been one of my favorite films," and that he "fell in love with the characters (new and old), the world of 1990s Catskills New York" while co-writing the upcoming film.

He added, "I can't wait to collaborate with Jennifer to bring this beautiful story of summer and romance and dancing to a generation of new fans. And to the longtime ones, I promise we will not ruin your childhood. We will tackle the assignment with sophistication, ambition, and, above all, love."

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