This weekend, Bridesmaids made at least $24 million, well beyond the expectations of Hollywood prognosticators. The critics loved it; word of mouth is good-to-excellent. Is Hollywood going to get a clue?
The film's budget was $32.5 million. According to Deadline Hollywood Daily, "CinemaScore was a "B+" with moviegoers 67% female vs. 33% male, and 63% of the audience age 30 and older vs. 37% under age 30."
The stakes were high not just for women-focused comedies or for other women working in Hollywood, several of whom have been told to hold off until Bridesmaids opening weekend numbers were in, but for Kristen Wiig, who had to prove she could carry her own film, for Paul Feig, who hasn't directed a big-ticket movie yet, and even, to a lesser degree, for proven big-dog Judd Apatow, whose mettle helped make it all happen and who now has a significant comeback to critics of his bromance orientation. (One trade actually cheerfully gave him all the credit, leading with "Hey, guess what? We can all start calling Judd Apatow a comedy genius again!" Not that executive producing isn't a big deal, but what about the co-writers and the director?)
Feig chronicled his weekend rollercoaster for The Daily Beast, including, "I envision Deadline's Nikki Finke nodding and saying, 'See, I told you so.'" (Actually, Paul, it's "Toldja!")
In fact, Feig got to see the combative Finke eat her words.
I was so convinced that this rare R-rated event comedy featuring women burping and farting for our female amusement wouldn't make over $13M, even $15M tops, that I promised Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson that I would leave Hollywood reporting forever if Bridesmaids did the $20+ million he thought it would. Well, I've called the moving vans because I clearly have no idea what works at the domestic box office anymore.
Take that promise with a grain of salt. Other responses were more measured. The AP went with the unfortunate, snicker-inducing headline, "Thor Hammers Bridesmaids," which ignored the fact that they were hardly in direct competition. Not to mention Thor's budget was almost five times that of Bridesmaids. Entertainment Weekly declared, "Move over, Tina Fey!" In other words, there can only be one.
But the actual content of the EW piece is worth reading, arguing that the language of the film "overperforming" insults:
Why would a major comedy produced by Judd Apatow, heralded by enthusiastic reviews, featuring a breakout performance by a venerable Saturday Night Live star, the whole thing pitched as a funny, soulful date movie to an audience that regularly turns the worst sort of pandering chick-flick crapola into major hits… why would that movie surprise anyone by making as much on its opening weekend as The Bounty Hunter or Failure to Launch?
No, what the "exceeded expectations" line is really about is the movie industry, and the media, paying homage to the collective "wisdom" that occurs whenever Hollywood, doing that thing it does, remembers all over again, every couple of years, that there's this weirdly esoteric, fringe-group demographic - I believe the term for it is "women" - who actually enjoy seeing their lives portrayed on screen every bit as much as men do.
Imagine that. Incidentally, this was the line Bridesmaids' own studio used. Here's Universal domestic distribution president Nikki Rocco: "It was a bet we took. Kristen Wiig is an up-and-comer, but there are no superstars in this film, and it's all conceptual. There are no comparable models for this." In case you're wondering, Rocco's a woman, as are plenty of Hollywood execs these days.
'Thor' Holds #1 Domestic With $344M Worldwide; 'Fast Five' Still Tops Global With $440M; 'Bridesmaids' Overperforms For $24.4M [DHD]
Why Bridesmaids Beat Box Office Expectations [THR]
Box Office: Bridesmaids Way Overperforms [The Wrap]
Bridesmaids' Director Paul Feig's Box Office Triumph [Daily Beast]
Earlier: Hollywood Insiders Admit Hollywood Hates Women
The Stakes Are High For The Funny Girl Movie
We Love You Paul Feig
How Bridesmaids Got Apatowed