Pitch Perfect is one of the most iconic comedies of the decade. It's a thoroughly rewatchable film that blew up and became something of a phenomenon. The movie made big stars out of Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson, and it even launched a franchise. There are plenty of franchises in Hollywood today, but there are few with as much originality or personality as the Pitch Perfect movies. They're also packed with marvelous a capella covers of our favorite songs.
Following the Barden Bellas, a college a capella group, the films are really just a great chance to get a bunch of hilarious women together for some tunes. Each Pitch Perfect carries some behind-the-scenes secrets, but the original is definitely full of the juiciest tidbits. The development of any original property requires lots of work and a fair bit of confusion. There are scenes that were left on the cutting room floor, and some songs that almost weren't in the movie. Here are 20 behind-the-scenes secrets from the set of Pitch Perfect.
Because a capella is actually quite difficult, the entire cast had to attend a month-long a capella boot camp in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where the film was shot. Even though every member of the cast could sing and dance, that didn't always mean they had all the skills necessary to be a part of an a capella group.
The boot camp was designed to get everyone up to speed, and the results speak for themselves. The entire cast looks perfectly in sync throughout the film. The boot camp helped them get in a capella shape, and it ultimately helped make the film a hit.
The romance between Rebel Wilson and Adam Devine's characters is one of the funniest subplots in the original film. Adam and Rebel were known for going on long, improvised tangents, and even suggested filming a scene to beef up their love story.
That scene ended up being a steamy shower scene that didn't make the final cut of the film. In spite of Rebel and Adam's hilarious work, some parts of the scene proved to be a little ~too~ adult. Pitch Perfect appealed to a wide range of ages and demographics, so it made sense to keep it as kid-friendly as possible.
"Cups" was one of the most lasting legacies of the original Pitch Perfect. After the movie came out, the song was everywhere, from elementary schools to the radio. Before the hype died down, the whole thing became a little annoying.
All of that almost never happened. "We were going to (have Beca) do 'I’m a Little Teapot' in her audition sequence, something just snarky and not taking it seriously,” Elizabeth Banks explained to USAToday. “And then we thought, let's just do 'Cups.'" Thank goodness they did, or things may have turned out very differently for the song and the film.
Because Pitch Perfect was such a smashing success, Pitch Perfect 2 got a bigger budget and some additional celebrity cameos. One of those cameos came from some members of the Green Bay Packers, who appear in the sequel's riff-off sequence, and actually, sing themselves.
"It was a piece of cake,” said offensive lineman Josh Sitton in an interview with Packers.com. “We were definitely fish out of water at first. Then we kind of got into our groove, and it turned out to be pretty good." The cameo is one of the film's most delightful surprises, and Sitton isn't wrong — they do sound pretty good.
One of the single funniest moments in Pitch Perfect is when Fat Amy gets pegged with a burrito. The choice of a burrito feels so random, and yet the density of a burrito means that it could hurt when it hits its target.
In order to make sure that was the case, director Jason Moore agreed to stand in Rebel's spot and take one to the chest. Adam was told to aim for the cameraman in order to hit Jason and instead hit the cameraman. "I pegged him right in the face," Devine told Vulture in 2012. Adam says that's why that scene is just a little out of focus.
Singing is not the easiest skill to perfect, and almost everyone in this movie was an actor first. That meant even in spite of the tremendous talent in the cast, some songs were ultimately too hard to pull off. On occasion, the people behind-the-scenes couldn't find anyone who could really nail a particular song.
"Sometimes we find that there’s no one we think is going to vocally knock it out of the park," Elizabeth told Time in 2015. "We are always thinking about what is going to show off our stars. That was a big concern. Of course, we want to set up everyone to win — we don’t want anyone to be challenged."
During the riff-off, one of the categories is songs about getting down and dirty. As part of that section, Ester Dean's character Cynthia Rose sings "S&M" by Rihanna. That song, which was a sensation when it was released, was actually written by Ester herself.
The fact that she got the chance to sing it was a gentle nod by the filmmakers to the song's origins. Although Ester was an established musician and had been in some animated films, Pitch Perfect was her first live-action role. The fact that she got to sing one of her own songs in it only made the moment sweeter.
Most of the big numbers in the original film were pre-recorded out of sheer necessity. It's hard enough to get every harmony nailed down in a studio. When Anna Kendrick was singing alone on set, though, she insisted on doing it live.
The results speak for themselves in this case. Kendrick sounds great whenever she's singing and she's able to play the scenes more authentically, too. It's sometimes easy to tell when an actor is lip-syncing, so our girl decided to avoid that problem altogether. She favored a more naturalistic approach, and it made her performance even better.
The riff-off in the original Pitch Perfect only goes through two categories, but the filmmakers were prepared to do many more. In fact, the category wheel had 13 categories in total. Some that were not used included "Black Michael Jackson," "White Michael Jackson," and "'80s country duo The Judds."
These are all a little more specific than the categories the film chose to run with. While these are funny names, they might have been a little bit harder to execute. Still, these categories are one of the many ways in which this movie seeded fascinating behind-the-scenes secrets into the background in basically every scene.
On most sets, even when things seem like they're bad for the characters, the actors are pretty well taken care of. Even when it seems like they're roughing it in the woods, there are still trailers and free food to enjoy.
But when the cast of Pitch Perfect was shooting the riff-off scene, though, they found they were basically left to their own devices and it wasn't that comfortable. The filming took place in an outdoor pool in early winter, and there was no place to set up the usual amenities. As a result, the cast did a lot of bonding that night. Who knows? In the end, it may have brought the group closer together and provided some of that amazing co-star chemistry the movies are known for.
There aren't many original movie franchises as successful as the Pitch Perfect films. The first one had a relatively minor run at the box office, but blew up once it was available on DVD. As a result, the film's sequel became a box office smash.
In fact, Pitch Perfect 2 outgrossed its predecessor's total box office haul in its opening weekend, making almost $70 million. There aren't very many other franchises where that's the case. Pitch Perfect was a true phenomenon. Whatever you think of the film's sequels, they were undoubtedly a wise investment for the studios that chose to finance them.
When Elizabeth Banks took over directing duties for Pitch Perfect 2, she molded a fairly distinct vision. Sometimes, that meant directing fake porno films. In one scene in the sequel, Adam Devine's Bumper walks in on several members of the Trebles in a hot tub watching porn together.
It turns out that film was created specifically for the movie. Although Elizabeth was hesitant to direct it, there was no one else to do it. As a result, she had to step out and put out a casting call. According to the director, it was a pretty awkward process, but one that produced hilarious results.
One of Beca's signature moments in the film comes during the riff-off when she sings "No Diggity." The song is arranged to perfection for the Bellas, and Anna Kendrick is perfection on the lead vocal part. That song, which wasn't part of the original film, eventually became a highlight of the movie.
Part of what makes these Pitch Perfect secrets so interesting is the way they shaped the film. Who knows how the film might have changed if alternative songs had been chosen? After all, so much of this movie's appeal came from the fact that the songs were catchy and sounded great.
Much like Beca, Adam Devine was totally unaware of the fact that he would have to prepare a song for his Pitch Perfect audition. When they asked him for one, he decided to sing the theme song from Full House. In fact, Devine didn't even know what movie he was auditioning for.
"I thought it was a baseball movie, and so I didn’t realize that there was singing involved," Devine told E! News in 2012. "When I got there and there were all these handsome dudes singing I was like, 'oh I’m in trouble.'" Luckily, things turned out alright and he got the part.
Rebel Wilson wasn't exactly a household name before Pitch Perfect came along. Her work as Fat Amy turned her into a star almost overnight. All of that came about because of a simple Facebook message. That's how the film's screenwriter, Kay Cannon, asked Rebel to audition for the role.
It's a good thing Rebel checks her messages. Otherwise, someone else might have played Fat Amy and the whole film might have been totally different. The original Pitch Perfect came together through a variety of small miracles. Rebel responding to that Facebook message and getting the part was definitely one of them.
Amy Poehler is one of the best comedians in Hollywood today. She's rarely off her game, and it appears that she even influenced the development of Pitch Perfect. When Poehler was pregnant, she called herself Fat Amy.
"The name Fat Amy came from when my friend Amy Poehler was pregnant,” writer Kay Cannon explained to Collider in 2012. Apparently, Poehler thought Fat Amy would make a great insulting nickname. The rest, as they say, is history. Amy Poehler coined the nickname that would define Rebel Wilson's character through all three films. Although she never appears on screen, she helped shape the Pitch Perfect series.
The Breakfast Club, and "Don't You Forget About Me" in particular have a huge impact on the original "Pitch Perfect." It's the song Beca sings in the film's finale to express her feelings for Jesse, and it works perfectly.
This is another situation where a change was made that may have benefited the film as a whole. Although Jesse and Beca watch The Breakfast Club in the film, they almost watched Say Anything instead. If they had, that finale might have featured a lot more Peter Gabriel.
When all the Bellas begin vomiting, it's one of the grossest things ever committed to film. It's also pretty hilarious. It's undoubtedly meant to gross you out as you watch it, but it wasn't much better to shoot. The fake vomit was made from real foods including tomato juice, pineapple juice, and chicken noodle soup.
Those foods gave the fake vomit a real texture. The props department outdid themselves with that recipe. As it turns out, the fact that that vomit looks so real was no accident. Unfortunately, that also made it feel much grosser for the cast to slip and slide around in.
Amy Poehler almost changed the world of Pitch Perfect twice. Although Elizabeth Banks ended up with the role of Gail, one of the announcers who comments on the a capella competitions, reports suggest that both Amy Poehler and Kristin Wiig were up for the part.
Elizabeth Banks, who went on to direct both of the sequels, was undoubtedly a great choice for the role. She has outstanding comedic timing, and knows how to manipulate her voice to sound like a commentator. Still, it would be interesting to see what both Amy and Kristen might have done with the role if they had been cast.
Adam Devine is utterly convincing as the diabolical villain and leader of the Trebles, the Bella's all-male rival a capella team. He's a fairly good singer, and he feels like someone that everyone knew in college.
Adam admits that he isn't much of a singer, but his girlfriend is. Kelley Jakle plays Jessica in Pitch Perfect, and she was also a contestant on The Sing-Off. That makes her a pretty talented a capella vocalist, which likely explains why she was cast in the film. There are plenty of great talents in Pitch Perfect, and some of them, like Kelley, fly under the radar.