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The Barden Bellas are back for a treble threat this December with Pitch Perfect 3, but when we pick up with the girls we find them a little off-key in post-Barden life.

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Unhappy in her NYC record label job, Beca (Anna Kendrick) impulsively quits. “She’s immediately filled with horrible, crushing regret based mostly on fear,” Kendrick says. The rest of the group have also hit a bum note, so they’re available to regroup and rally for a USO tour of Europe, performing for the troops. Cue the explosions, cute camo clothing, and far more action than you’d expect from an a cappella showcase.

Luckily, it wasn’t just the Bellas who were eager to be reunited in a common cause. “It’s totally like summer camp,” says Kendrick of getting back on set with the other actresses (including Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, and Hailee Steinfeld). “We spend every waking moment together: We’re shooting together constantly, we’re in the hair and makeup trailer together and when we’re not shooting, we’re in a green room together. It starts to feel like ‘Oh, my God if I see these girls for one more second…’ and then every weekend it’s just like, ‘What you guys up to?’”

Counteracting any of that over-familiarity on location was new director Trish Sie (Step Up All In). “It’s so nice to have fresh blood on set,” says Kendrick. “It makes sure we’re on our best behavior.” For Sie, a massive fan of the franchise, coming on board with the Bellas was always in her stars. “When I heard they needed a new director I was just like, ‘That’s it. I am destined for this,'” she says. “It was like I was the stalker-girl who sees a guy in the coffee shop and is like, ‘I’m going to marry him!’ It was that crazy, one-sided love affair, but it all worked out.” Fortunately she channeled that crazy affection for the project into zealous drive on set. “She has such positive energy,” says Kendrick. “She’s this kind of crazy, lioness woman – a real force of nature.”

Part of the project’s attraction for the director was exploring real emotions and milestones encountered by young women. “These movies are so good at capturing relevant moments that happen to all kids,” she says. “In this case they’re heightened and absurd, but most people’s first years out of school are a pretty bleak reality check, and that’s where we pick up the story in this movie.”

That in-between moment in the girls’ lives and the fact that they’re now in their third outing led to some character revelations. “The ensemble gets juicier,” Sie says. Especially with Wilson’s Fat Amy. “It was funny that Fat Amy chose that name, but is there more? Where did she come from? It’s been fun to follow those rabbit holes.”

So, when all is sung and done, is this the final curtain for the Bellas, or could there be another encore? “Hell, yeah!” Kendrick says. “We’d do them forever.”

Pitch Perfect 3 hits movie theaters Dec. 22.

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