Just as a boy and his dog are never parted, the friendship between a little Mogwai named Gizmo and his human pal, Billy Peltzer, endures to this day. A new commercial for Mountain Dew Zero Sugar proves that the Gremlins duo’s relationship is still going strong 36 years after their first meeting in Joe Dante’s 1984 classic. These days, they’re a little older, a little goofier… and not much wiser when it comes to following the rules about Mogwai care. (Watch the ad above.)
While Billy and Gizmo’s reunion will warm the hearts of ’80s kids, the breakout star of Mountain Dew’s instantly viral spot is a new character in Gremlins canon. The ad reveals that Billy (Zach Galligan) is now the father of a teenage daughter, who has a Mogwai of her own. Twitter flipped out about this plot twist, and the larger implications it might have for the long-rumored Gremlins 3.
The new Gremlins/Mtn Dew ad reveals that Billy has a daughter with her own punk mogwai. This is thus far the highlight of 2021. pic.twitter.com/nJb87PwTIA
— Dinosaur Dracula 🦖🧛♂️ (@DinosaurDracula) February 15, 2021
Take out the Mountain Dew plug and this right here is a perfectly serviceable tease to a new Gremlins sequel. Give Billy a daughter with a punk Mogwai and build a movie from there. Just be sure to let @joe_dante direct with complete creative control. https://t.co/Pemc5FxnQL
— Chris Muise (@TheSilentG) February 15, 2021
Speaking with Yahoo Entertainment, Galligan plays it coy about his fictional daughter’s future, including whether or not her mom is Kate Beringer — Billy’s Christmas-hating girlfriend, so memorably played by Phoebe Cates. “I think most fans would like to make that assumption,” the actor says. “But the fact of the matter is that there’s no mention or visual picture of Phoebe anywhere in the ad. We know that Billy has gotten married, but we don’t say who the mom is. Let’s just say that she probably is the daughter of Phoebe and I. Why ruin a good story with the truth?”
We’d likely get an answer to Billy’s daughter’s parentage should Gremlins 3 come to pass. But Galligan tells fans they shouldn’t hold their breath about Cates — who hasn’t acted in a movie since 2001’s The Anniversary Party, opposite her husband, Kevin Kline — emerging from her now 20-year retirement to reprise the role of Kate. “I certainly would hope she would come back,” he says of his co-star, who currently owns and operates the high-end New York boutique, Blue Tree. “But she’s very successful at what she does now, and shows absolutely no sign of having anything to do with acting. I think she’s very happy and satisfied with being a successful businesswoman, which she was back then. She was always an extremely formidable and capable young woman and she’s proven that.”
Galligan also doesn’t expect Dante to return for any additional Mogwai action. After the success of the first movie, the director had full creative control over the 1990 sequel, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, which abandoned the original’s blend of horror and comedy in favor of an anarchic satirical spirit straight out of vintage Looney Tunes cartoons. “It’s a pretty crazy, manic movie. And one of my favorites,” Dante told Yahoo Entertainment in 2015. Unfortunately, audiences at the time didn’t agree: The New Batch earned only $41 million — well behind the first movie’s mighty $153 million gross.
“I have mixed feelings about New Batch, because it was financially not successful and to a certain extent ended the franchise,” Galligan admits now. “But on the flip side, it’s a really hilarious movie, and I got a chance to work with incredibly talented people, including Robert Picardo and Christopher Lee.” He also credits the sequel, which has since become a cult favorite, with poking fun at some of the sillier aspects of the previous movie, like the oft-debated rule about not feeding Mogwai after midnight.
“That rule was questionable even when we were shooting the first Gremlins,” Galligan says, chuckling. “We would make fun of it on set! The thing is, you want the rules to be simple and memorable, so you couldn’t say ‘Don’t feed him between midnight and 4 AM.’ That’s more complicated and opens up even more exceptions. So I like that Gremlins 2 makes fun of the first movie. I’m super-proud of the movie overall — I just wish it had done better!”
While The New Batch may have put the Gremlins series in deep storage for thirty years, we’re currently poised for a Mogwai renaissance. Besides the new Mountain Dew spot, the franchise is returning to screens later this year in the form of the HBO Max prequel series, Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai. And if that show takes off, it’s easy to imagine Warner Bros. finally giving the greenlight to Gremlins 3. “This is a valuable property that made them a lot of money,” Galligan notes. “The first movie made a billion dollars for Warner Bros. just in merchandise alone! And that was in 1984 dollars — it’s more like $3 billion today.”
The studio’s renewed interest in Gremlins is one reason why Galligan didn’t think twice about sharing a Mountain Dew with Gizmo when the opportunity presented itself. “Doing this spot reinforces the notion of Billy and Gizmo in the public’s mind,” he says. “So when it comes time to do Gremlins 3, it’s going to be difficult for them to do it without me! The fanbase will go, ‘There’s Gizmo, but where’s the other guy?'” Thanks to the Mountain Dew commercial, they’ll also be asking, “Where’s Billy’s daughter?”
Gremlins and Gremlins: The New Batch are currently streaming on HBO Max.
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