How a 1990s cult classic sequel promises to ‘move with the times’

Thirty years after The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, launched in a blaze of glory, its director has announced a sequel, with himself in the hot seat alongside the original three-member cast.

Apr 30, 2024, updated Apr 30, 2024

Thirty years after The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, launched in a blaze of glory, its director has announced a sequel, with himself in the hot seat alongside the original three-member cast.

The 1994 masterpiece of Australian filmmaking starred two drag queens and a middle-aged transgender woman who leave Sydney in an old bus they named Priscilla after scoring a gig at an Alice Springs resort.

They perform ABBA songs and other disco hits in glamorous gowns across the desert and (eventually) charm a bunch of hard-drinking locals in outback towns including Broken Hill and Coober Pedy with their candour and dress sense.

At one point their bus breaks down in the middle of nowhere, and the film becomes a heartwarming story of love, intolerance, difference and inclusion – and was way ahead of its time.

But with shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race and LGBTQ issues now part of the narrative across filmmaking and streaming series, is a sequel going to work?

“I’m not repeating myself. We’ll start the new film in Australia, but by God, we’re going on one helluva journey,” writer-director Stephan Elliott revealed exclusively to Deadline, suggesting their travelling show may go international this time.

In what could turn out to be a masterstroke, Australian actors Hugo Weaving (Tick Belrose/Mitzi Del Bra), 64, Guy Pearce (Adam/Felicia Jollygoodfellow), 56, and British actor Terence Stamp (Bernadette), 85, are back for round two.

“The original cast is on board. I’ve got a script that everybody likes. We’re still working out deals,” he added.

“It’s happening.”

Bus, train, ship this time?

Elliott agonised for years, and admitted he was resistant to making a follow-up film and what it would look like.

“I just was not sure. I just didn’t want to repeat myself.”

“I thought, what am I going to do? Stick them on a cruise ship, stick them on a train? You name it, over the years I’ve been pitched Priscilla 2 in spades.”

Deadline says it took the death of Elliott’s parents to “focus his mind”.

“I was writing and configuring after dad died in early 2020,” he said.

“Then mum died in early 2023. It was a tough one, and so I finally realised that I do have something to write about.”

In the original, Tick (Weaving) is married to Marion (the Alice Springs hotel manager), and they have a son, Benji, 7, who eventually returns to Sydney with his dad.

“Well, he’s grown up now,” Elliott said.

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“Therefore I’ve written in a bunch of new characters to support a new generation.”

And what about the music?

Surely there’s a new playlist?

Elliott says the new movie will feature “old disco classics, but we’ll be moving into contemporary as well”, revealing Lady Gaga, who has a huge LGTBQI+ following especially with her freedom song Born This Way, a possibility.

“We’ve got to move with the times,” he adds.

With Stamp now in his 80s, Elliott says he wants to get a wriggle on and “get it happening, get it shooting this year. Actually, as soon as possible”.

The History Trust of South Australia says on its website Elliott will be helping restore the bus to her ‘former glory’. Photo: History Trust of South Australia

Elliott said he also has plans for Pricilla, that was tracked down to a property in Queensland.

For the past 16 years, the 1976 Hino Freighter bus has been sitting unloved on a property in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. It was waterbombed during the 2019 bushfires and miraculously survived.

After establishing its bona fides as the real deal, the History Trust of South Australia took possession of it a year ago and launched a fundraising effort to restore it ($170,000 raised so far), and will get its makeover in Queensland before heading to the National Motor Museum in Birdwood.

“I don’t know how it survived, but we have a plan,” Elliott said.

“Don’t worry, the bus will feature.”


Topics: Priscilla
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