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Zoolander 2

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Zoolander 2
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBen Stiller
Written by
Based onCharacters created
by Drake Sather
Ben Stiller
Produced by
CinematographyDan Mindel
Edited byGreg Hayden
Music byTheodore Shapiro
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release dates
  • February 4, 2016 (2016-02-04) (London)
  • February 12, 2016 (2016-02-12) (United States)
Running time
102 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$50–55 million[2][3]
Box office$56.7 million[4]

Zoolander 2 (promoted as Zoolander No. 2) is a 2016 American action comedy film co-produced and directed by Ben Stiller who wrote the script alongside Justin Theroux, John Hamburg, and Nicholas Stoller. The sequel to the 2001 film Zoolander, the film stars most of the principal cast members from the previous film reprising their roles such as Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Christine Taylor, Milla Jovovich, Nathan Lee Graham, Theroux, Billy Zane, Tommy Hilfiger, and Jerry Stiller (in his final on-screen role) while Alexander Skarsgård and Andy Dick also returned in different roles. New cast members include Penélope Cruz, Kristen Wiig, Cyrus Arnold, Fred Armisen, Kyle Mooney, Jon Daly, Sting, and Benedict Cumberbatch.

Filming took place from April to July 2015, in Rome, Italy. The film was released on February 12, 2016, by Paramount Pictures, to mostly negative reviews from critics and was a box-office flop, earning $56.7 million against a $50–55 million budget. It was dedicated to the memory of Drake Sather, who co-created the character of Derek Zoolander and was a writer on the first film, having died in March 2004.


Agent Valentina Valencia of Interpol's fashion division examines the expressions of recently assassinated pop singers' last images and believes they match Derek Zoolander's signature look, "Blue Steel". A flashback via news reports reveals that the Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can't Read Good collapsed, killing Derek's wife Matilda Jeffries and injuring his former rival turned best friend Hansel McDonald two days after opening while Jacobim Mugatu was sentenced to 2 consecutive life sentences for his attempted assassination of the Malaysian Prime Minister in the first film with co-conspirator and Derek's agent Maury Ballstein turning states evidence and disappearing into the Witness Protection Program. Derek later lost custody of his and Matilda's son, Derek Zoolander Jr., and announced his retirement from modeling and subsequent reclusion.

Derek now lives alone in "extreme northern" New Jersey. Billy Zane visits and gives him an invitation to the House of Atoz fashion show by the "Queen of Haute Couture", Alexanya Atoz, and persuades him to return to a regular lifestyle in order to regain custody of his son. In the "uncharted Malibu territories", Hansel is informed by his orgy that they are all pregnant and that he is the father. He is later given the same invitation by Zane.

At the fashion show, Derek and Hansel, who reconcile following a bitter reunion, are surprised to find that the ever-changing fashion world is now dominated by the likes of hipster fashion mogul Don Atari and the non-binary All. They are put on the runway in "Old" and "Lame" outfits and are doused by a large bucket of prunes. Afterwards, Alexanya congratulates them on their performance.

The duo are then tracked down by Valentina, who asks for them to help Interpol uncover who's behind the assassinations. With Valentina's help, Derek discovers his son is residing at a local orphanage. They find him, but Derek is distraught by his son's obesity. After Matilda's ghost asks him to protect their son, Hansel convinces Derek to accept Derek Jr. After meeting the Headmaster, Derek takes his son around Rome. However, Derek Jr. becomes disgruntled with his father and returns to the orphanage.

Hansel receives an anonymous call, requesting that he travel to St. Peter's Basilica at midnight. He, Derek, and Valentina go to the church and meet with Sting, who tells them the tale of Adam and Eve and the little-known Steve, a secret that many popstars have died to protect. It is said that Steve is the common ancestor of all models and that he and his closest descendant (Derek Jr.) holds the bloodline of the Fountain of Youth. Derek returns to the orphanage, only to find it in disrepair and both Derek Jr. and the Headmaster, who is revealed to be the Evil DJ from the first film, gone.

Derek meets with Mugatu at the Fashion Prison where he is held to get answers but Mugatu tricks him, traps him, and escapes. Hansel infiltrates the House of Atoz where he witnesses Mugatu reuniting with Alexanya and killing Don Atari. He also finds Derek Jr. imprisoned but is unable to rescue him.

Hansel reunites with Derek and Valentina at the IncrediBALL. They enter a bathhouse and witness Derek Jr. strapped to a sacrificial table. Mugatu and many of the world's fashion designers prepare to cut out Derek Jr.'s heart and consume his blood, believing it to grant them eternal youth as it contains the blood of Steve. Derek, Hansel, and Valentina successfully stop Mugatu from proceeding and he reveals that he actually brought together the world's fashion designers to kill them as revenge for his imprisonment.

Alexanya, who is actually Mugatu's henchwoman Katinka Ingabogovinananananana in disguise, attacks Valentina, and they start "sexy fighting" while Mugatu reveals to Derek that he was behind the destruction of the Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can't Read Good by having the construction crew build the base with faulty materials. He then throws an explosive towards the lava. Derek manages to stop it with his "Magnum" look but struggles to keep it suspended in mid-air. Sting arrives and reveals that he is Hansel's father. He, Derek, Hansel, and Derek Jr. successfully use the "El Niño" look to hurl the explosive back at Mugatu, presumably killing him in the process. Derek Jr. forgives his father for his mother's death and Derek and Valentina confess their love for each other. Matilda's ghost gives them her blessing.

Six weeks later, Derek and Hansel have returned to modeling. Hansel returns to living with his orgy and is now the father of 10 children. Derek and Valentina have a daughter named Darlene V. Zoolander, while Derek Jr. becomes the next hot model and is now in a relationship with Malala Yousafzai. As the end credits start rolling, Derek and Hansel celebrate with their friends, Derek's family, and a newly reformed Mugatu, who apparently survived the explosion.


  • Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander, a male fashion model who is not very bright.
  • Owen Wilson as Hansel McDonald, a fashion model who is Derek's best friend and former rival.
  • Will Ferrell as Jacobim "Mugatu" Moogberg, a former fashion mogul who seeks revenge on Derek for his defeat in the first film.
  • Penélope Cruz as Valentina Valencia, an Interpol agent (and former swimsuit model) who becomes Derek's love interest.
  • Kristen Wiig as Alexanya Atoz, the Queen of Haute Couture.
  • Fred Armisen as Vip, an 11-year-old assistant to Don Atari who is "Armisen’s face CGI-ed on a tween’s body".[5]
  • Kyle Mooney as Don Atari, a hipster fashion mogul.
  • Milla Jovovich as Katinka Ingabogovinananananana, Mugatu's henchwoman.
  • Christine Taylor as ghost of Matilda Jeffries-Zoolander, Derek's late wife.
  • Justin Theroux as Evil DJ, one of Mugatu's henchmen.
  • Nathan Lee Graham as Todd, Mugatu's second in-command.
  • Cyrus Arnold as Derek Zoolander Jr., Derek & Matilda's son and Valentina's stepson. Arnold replaces Mason Webb from the first film.
    • Fabiano Di Leo as 4-year old Derek Jr.
  • Billy Zane as himself[6]
  • Jon Daly as Agent Filippo, Valentina's boss at Interpol.
  • Sting as himself, who is revealed to Hansel's father.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch as All, a non-binary fashion model[7]



In December 2008, Stiller confirmed that he wanted to make a sequel to Zoolander, saying: "I've been trying to get Zoolander 2 together and we've had a few scripts. I feel that is the sequel I really would like to do some day because I like the original and I would make sure it was something new and worthy of it first."[16] When interviewed on the May 15, 2009 episode of Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, Stiller said he was looking at a number of scripts.[17] By February 2010, Justin Theroux, who also co-wrote Tropic Thunder with Stiller, was hired to write and direct the sequel.[18] By the following month, Stiller confirmed he would be co-writing the script, stating, "We're in the process of getting a script written, so it's in the early stages. But yeah, it's going to happen."[19] At some later, unspecified point, Stiller had taken over as director.[20] On the December 17, 2010 episode of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Owen Wilson said a Zoolander sequel would likely be made, tentatively titled Twolander.[21]

In January 2011, Stiller confirmed that the script had been completed, and described the plot: "It's ten years later and most of it is set in Europe... it's basically Derek and Hansel... though the last movie ended on a happy note a lot of things have happened in the meantime. Their lives have changed and they’re not really relevant anymore. It's a new world for them. Will Ferrell is written into the script and he's expressed interest in doing it. I think Mugatu is an integral part of the Zoolander story, so yes, he features in a big way."[22] In July 2012, Stiller described a difficult development process: "We have a script, as we've had for a little while, and [the film] is not quite coming together right now but I hope it does. I would like to do it at some point in the future."[23] In September 2014, Ferrell said of the sequel, "We are actually supposed to do a read-through of a sequel script soon, and Mugatu is a part of it."[24]

By November 20, 2014, Penélope Cruz had joined the cast,[25] and by January 29, 2015, Christine Taylor was confirmed to reprise her role as Matilda Jeffries.[26] By February 9, 2015, it was announced filming was set to commence at Rome's Cinecittà studios in the spring of 2015.[27] On March 10, 2015, Stiller and Wilson appeared at the Paris Fashion Week in character as Derek Zoolander and Hansel McDonald.[28] On April 13, 2015, it was revealed Cyrus Arnold had been cast as Zoolander's son.[29] On April 21, 2015, Fred Armisen joined the cast.[30] In May 2015, Stiller revealed via Instagram the casting of Kyle Mooney, Beck Bennett, and Nathan Lee Graham.[31][32][33]

Principal photography began on April 7, 2015, and ended on July 13, 2015.[34][35] The film was shot at Cinecittà studios in Rome, Italy.[36] During production, a 96 camera bullet time rig was used to catch the end sequence, but the footage was not used.[37]


Paramount partnered with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to feature Derek Zoolander on their advertising campaign for the Fiat 500X.[38] Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson walked in character as Zoolander and Hansel at the Valentino show at 2015 Paris Fashion Week,[39] and Stiller and Penélope Cruz also appeared in character in the February 2016 issue of Vogue.[40]


Zoolander 2 was released in theaters on February 12, 2016.[41] The world premiere was held in London, England on February 6, 2016,[42] and the North American premiere was held in New York City on February 9, 2016. During the London premiere, Stiller set the Guinness World Record for the longest selfie stick, at 8.56 meters (28 feet, 1 inch) long.[43]

Transgender casting controversy[edit]

On November 20, 2015, shortly after the release of the second trailer, the film received controversy from members of the LGBT community over Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal of All, a non-binary model, which was deemed by the community as "an over-the-top, cartoonish mockery of androgyne/trans/non-binary individuals", with the community calling for a boycott of the film over the transgender character.[44] In a December 7, 2015 interview with The Wrap, Justin Theroux said of the transgender boycott, stating that it "hurts my feelings", comparing it to the 2008 protest by disabled groups of the film Tropic Thunder for Robert Downey Jr.'s character's repeated use of the word "retard".[45] Will Ferrell defended Cumberbatch's portrayal in a December 21, 2015 interview on BBC 1's Newsbeat.[46] In a January 28, 2022 interview with Variety as part of its "Actors on Actors" with co-star Penelope Cruz, Cumberbatch stated that if the film had been made today, he wouldn't have played All, believing that the role should be played by a trans actor or a non-binary actor instead.[47]


Box office[edit]

Zoolander 2 grossed $28.8 million in the U.S. and Canada and $27.9 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $56.7 million against a budget of $50 million.[4]

In the United States and Canada, pre-release tracking suggested the film would gross $17–20 million from 3,300 theaters in its opening weekend, trailing Deadpool ($55–65 million projection) but similar to fellow newcomer How to Be Single.[48] The film made $750,000 from its Thursday night previews and $4.9 million on its first day.[49] It went on to gross $14 million in its opening weekend, finishing fourth at the box office, behind Deadpool ($132.8 million), Kung Fu Panda 3 ($19.8 million), and How to Be Single ($17.9 million).[50] In its second weekend, the film grossed $5.5 million (a 60.3% drop), finishing seventh at the box office.[51]

In a February 2022 interview with Esquire, Ben Stiller said he was glad the film flopped at the box office, stating that if the film had performed well financially, he wouldn't have been able to pursue doing more serious, non-comedic work such as Escape at Dannemora and Severance.[52] Appearing on David Duchovny's Fail Better podcast in April 2024, Stiller said the negative reaction was "blindsiding" to him and that "it definitely affected [him] for a long time".[53]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 22% based on reviews from 232 critics, with an average rating of 4.42/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Zoolander No. 2 has more celebrity cameos than laughs – and its meager handful of memorable gags outnumbers the few worthwhile ideas discernible in its scattershot rehash of a script."[54] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 34 out of 100 based on reviews from 42 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[55] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale, the same grade earned by its predecessor.[50]

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote: "Zoolander 2 sweats its silly ass off to please. The results are scattershot. But when it works — oh, baby. There's a bit with Justin Bieber and a selfie that, well, no spoilers."[56] Justin Chang of Variety gave it a negative review: "The results may delight those who believe recycled gags and endless cameos to be the very essence of great screen comedy, but everyone else will likely recognize Stiller’s wannabe Magnum opus as a disappointment-slash-misfire, the orange mocha crappuccino of movie sequels."[57]


Award Category Subject Result
Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Picture Stuart Cornfeld Nominated
Scott Rudin Nominated
Clayton Townsend Nominated
Ben Stiller Nominated
Worst Director Nominated
Worst Actor Nominated
Worst Screen Combo Nominated
Owen Wilson Nominated
Worst Supporting Actor Nominated
Will Ferrell Nominated
Worst Supporting Actress Kristen Wiig Won
Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel Nominated
Teen Choice Award[58] Choice Movie: Comedy Nominated


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External links[edit]