Things You Might Not Know About ‘Bring It On’Published on September 9, 2016. Updated August 20, 2020
Bring It On was a shocking success at the box office. This teen comedy-drama was a sleeper hit that has become a timeless cult classic. It perfectly depicts the high school life of teenagers and is a funny take on the competitive world of cheerleading. The movie was led by a then 16-year-old Kirsten Dunst, along with Buffy the Vampire star Eliza Dushku, as well as Gabrielle Union and Jesse Bradford. The success of Bring It On has spawned an entire spin-off series with direct-to-video sequels like Bring It On Again, Bring It On: All or Nothing, Bring It On: In It to Win It and Bring It On: Fight to the Finish. It’s one of the most referenced and quoted films from the early 2000s and remains as popular today as it was in 2000! We’re super nostalgic about this film here at Fame10, so here’s a look back at 10 things you didn’t know about the movie Bring It On!
10. A Documentary
Many fans would be surprised to learn that Bring It On was originally supposed to be a documentary! Jessica Bendinger, the screenwriter for the movie first pitched the movie as a documentary for MTV called Cheer Fever. She was already experiencing success as a writer for the popular HBO series Sex and the City and had this great idea to tackle the competitive world of cheerleading. “It was about this very specific subculture of competitive cheerleading and her original draft would have been a three-hour cheerleading epic. It was dense,” said director Peyton Reed in an interview with Buzzfeed News. Reed was instantly hooked and intrigued by this intensely competitive world. “I had no idea I would find interest in competitive cheerleading, but I did in a big way. Jessica’s writing has such attitude. I liked what it had to say about the dynamics of high school. It turned cheerleading on its ear and made them the underdogs; traditionally cheerleaders are the untouchables in the caste system of high school and this script made you really root for them. I like what it had to say about entitlement.”
9. Casting Decisions
It took a long time to find people to fill all of the supporting roles, but there were a few no-brainers like Eliza Duskhu who had already won hearts over with her role as Faith on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. One role that director Reed remembers well is casting Torrence Shipman. They first considered Marley Shelton for the lead. Reed said he fell in love with Shelton and thought she was perfect for the part, but there was one hitch — she was deciding between two films, Bring it On and Sugar and Spice. She ended up choosing Sugar and Spice and was soon replaced with Kirsten Dunst. “We started talking about who we could get to play Torrance and I immediately said Kirsten Dunst. I loved Kirsten Dunst and she looked the part and is such a tremendous actor.” But when she was offered the part, she declined! According to Reed, she didn’t like the script and was working on another movie in the Czech Republic. Reed was persistent with her and sent her another copy of the script after some rewrites. “I got on the phone with her and she liked the changes — I talked more about what we were going to change and she agreed to do the movie. Once we got her, everything else really fell into place,” he said.
8. Major Success
It was a huge surprise when Bring it On landed in the number 1 spot at the box office opening weekend back in August 2000. The production process for the film was quiet with no real hype behind it, so the production team and even the stars like Kirsten Dunst were shocked when it made a whopping $22 million in the first weekend! It stayed at the top of the box office ratings for the following week and made another $15 million. “On opening night, we drove from theater to theater in this big van and people were in the theaters and they were laughing. And then we went up to Universal City Walk for dinner when the numbers started coming in. At a certain point, we knew it was going to open at No. 1 and I remember Kirsten, little 17-year-old Kirsten, in tears, saying, ‘I’m going to have a No. 1 movie?!?!’ She was so thrilled. It was so sweet. It was pretty much an unbelievable experience,” said Reed. The filmed ended up grossing $90 million worldwide.
7. Most Expensive Film Cost
The most expensive part about making Bring it On, a film which cost a total of $10 million (a relatively inexpensive film by studio standards), was the scene with the cheerleading auditions. In this scene the production team had to allocate a huge portion of their budget towards Warrant’s 1990 hit, “Cherry Pie.” When asked about it, director Reed told Buzzfeed News that he said it was the most expensive part about making the film, but it was a necessity! “My memory was that it cost $40,000. It’s one of those songs that was such a big hit and probably that band’s biggest hit ever, but it was so perfect for that scene; it needed to be raunchy and inappropriate. That was the single biggest music cue and expense we had in the movie,” he said.
6. Two Stars Arrested During Filming
Being that the film was about a group of high school students, the cast for the movie was quite young! Despite their young age, the director was quite impressed with how professional they were…well, for the most part. He told Buzzfeed News there was one particular incident that he didn’t hear about until after filming wrapped up. “It was only at the end of the shoot that I learned, after talking to producers, that Eliza and Jesse and a couple of the cheerleaders decided to cross the border into Mexico and party and they ended up in a Mexican jail and had to be bailed out.” This is a true story! “It was before one of the outdoor scenes — I think it was the car wash scene,” he said. Jesse Bradford opened up about the ‘incident’ during a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly. He said, “I would love to set the record straight about that, if you want the truth — or maybe the truth with some omissions. First of all, it was Rosarito, not Tijuana. It was me, Eliza, Rini Bell, and this dude Lance, one of the male cheerleaders on the Toros. I’m gonna blur the details of how and why, but needless to say, we got arrested. We had to go in front of a judge — I use that term loosely here — and explain what happened, and he let us go…They said that one of the producers, Max Wong, had to bail us out, but I don’t think any of them knew what happened until well after the fact.”
5. Sparky’s Lines Were Improvised
One of the most talked about scenes in the film was when Sparky Polastri made his appearance to teach the girls some new choreography and introduced the world to the infamous “spirit fingers.” An interesting fact about this character was that everything he says in the film was totally improvised by Reed and actor Ian Roberts in one day. “That role in the original script was funny but thin and stereotypical. We knew he had to be a charlatan at the center of all of this – a guy who was up to no good – but we wanted to create something we hadn’t seen with this pill-popping guy who was just a total fraud. We liked the idea of him being equal parts lecherous and off the rails, this awful reprehensible character these girls have to overcome. In terms of the issues cheerleaders have, he really appeals to their baser instincts,” said Reed. Today, the term spirit fingers has become a staple pop culture reference and can even be found in other movies like Not Another Teen Film and Fired Up! It even made it into Urban Dictionary!
4. Car Scene
According to IMDB, there was an incident going on behind the scenes when Torrance, Missy, Jan and Les were all carpooling to a football game together. In the scene it seems like Les is an overly cautious driver because he keeps checking his side mirrors, but he’s doing that because some nonsense is going on behind him and it’s distracting him. Apparently another driver on the road was angry that the film’s motorcade was making him late for a dinner, so he attempted to drive the camera truck off the road. The actor who plays Les, Huntley Ritter, keeps checking his mirrors because he’s watching the scene go down behind him and watches the driver get pulled over by Highway patrol.
3. Kirsten Dunst Played Herself
When Kirsten Dunst was cast for her role as Torrence Shipman she was only 16-years-old! She was the perfect demographic for the movie and even admitted she highly identified with her character. In an interview with Gotham Magazine, Dunst said she was a cheerleader in high school and spent most of her time hanging out with the squad so she knew exactly how to tackle this movie. “When I was 16 and did Bring It On. I was that girl. It was like me being in high school as myself. It wasn’t a stretch at all. I was a cheerleader, my best friend was a cheerleader. I wasn’t in competitions, but I watched them on TV.” She also admitted that she basically joined the squad to make friends. “I actually did it in eighth grade for a little bit, to fit in more. I just wanted to be more popular. Being an actress doesn’t make you popular in school. I was always leaving to make a movie then coming back in. But this is so much more involved; for these cheerleaders, it’s their life.”
2. The Cast Attended Boot Camp
Aside from Gabrielle Union and Kirsten Dunst, almost the entire cast of actors didn’t have any experience as a cheerleader. As a result, they were all required to go to a six-week boot camp in San Diego to learn their allocated routines. The director Peyton Reed said, “We had like a six-week period off and on that they were going to be rehearsing these routines…A lot of the actors came in and did the full program.” The only one who didn’t go was Kirsten Dunst because she was busy working on another movie, but luckily she was insanely talented and already had a background as a cheerleader in school. She picked up all the routine rather quickly and was extremely dedicated to the movie, practicing all the time. There were a few others who it was a little more challenging for like Eliza Dushku (Missy) and Lindsay Sloane, who ironically played the role of Big Red — the supposed-to-be most experienced cheerleader of them all! In order to make sure it looked as professional as possible, each squad was made up of eight actors and 12 cheerleaders. Most of the Clovers were from San Diego’s James Madison High School because their cheerleading team was ranked third in the country at the time the film was made. “We were fortunate to have some of the top cheerleaders in the country on these squads and they helped to motivate Kirsten, Eliza, Gabrielle, and the rest of the actors during cheer camp,” said Reed.
1. The Musical Girl Group Blaque
Gabrielle’s character, Isis, had a few sidekicks from the Clover cheerleading squad who appeared next to her throughout the movie. They didn’t have many lines, but they contributed a lot to the overall feel of the movie. These girls were Shamari, Natina and Brandi and they were all from the musical girl group known as Blaque. These girls were extremely successful at the time and often found performing with other artists like NSYNC and TLC. “They can dance, they look great, and they were so enthusiastic that we immediately cast them, they were great. And they got along really great with Gabrielle,” said Reed. The only downfall was that they didn’t have any acting experience, they kept looking straight into the camera during scenes and were overworked between promoting their album and fulfilling their roles for the movie. When other cast members had days off, these girls were out on the road. There was one incident during production when the three Blaque girls got in a fight and started acting out. “These girls were used to being the superstars in the music world and they weren’t stars in the movie world. They were used to being able to act out and trash hotel rooms and that’s not okay when you’re working on a little movie…We first put the fear into them and after that they were fantastic. In fact at the end of the film they wrote us thank you notes, it was like, thank you so much for telling us we should be ladies, that’s really good advice,” said executive producer Max Wong.