LONDON (Reuters) - Actor Ben Stiller hopes bigger is better with his latest movie, the sequel to the hit 2006 comedy “Night at the Museum” set this time at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
In “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian,” Stiller reprises his role as Larry Daley, a night guard at New York’s Museum of Natural History in the first film who is now a successful inventor of cheap household appliances.
He discovers that his favorite exhibits, which magically come to life and have become his truest friends, are deemed too old to remain on display and are being packed into cases to be stored in the Smithsonian’s cavernous vaults.
In a bid to rescue them he comes up against evil Egyptian ruler Kahmunrah, who, after 3,000 years of slumber and aided by some of history’s most notorious figures, plots to take over the museum, and ultimately the world.
“We wanted everything we did in the first movie to be not only bigger, but better in the second,” said returning director Shawn Levy.
According to News Corp.-owned studio Twentieth Century Fox, it was the first movie filmed in the Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum complex visited by 25 million people a year.
“We really felt like there were new things we could do and a new story to tell and a new museum to explore and just a lot of things that could be better,” Stiller told Reuters at the recent world premiere in London.
“I feel like it’s a different movie and I feel like it’s really more successful on a lot of levels.”
Asked at a news conference if he would contemplate extending the franchise further, he replied:
“I think it would be really fun. There are a couple of ideas floating around,” he said, adding that a third film would not necessarily try to be bigger than the second.
The decision is likely to depend on whether the sequel, released in Britain on May 20 and two days later in the United States, can match the original film at the box office.
With worldwide ticket sales of around $575 million, according to web site www.boxofficemojo.com, it was the fifth biggest film of 2006.
As well as Stiller, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, Ricky Gervais and Steve Coogan reprise their roles in the special effects-laden Night at the Museum 2.
New to the cast is Amy Adams, playing U.S. aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, and Hank Azaria, who based Kahmunrah’s less-than-evil voice, complete with heavy lisp, on English horror actor Boris Karloff.
He also lent his voice to the animated statue of Abraham Lincoln, who joins the battle against evil forces marshaled by Ivan the Terrible, Napoleon and Al Capone.
“Abraham Lincoln was hard because you had to be kind of reverential but also make him funny,” Azaria said.
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