Kristen Wiig’s Bridesmaids might have been too successful.
It’s an audience favorite, a critical darling, and a legitimate awards contender, the holy trinity for a Hollywood studio. On paper, it amounts to $288 million worldwide from a budget of $32 million, plus revenue from its resilient run on the DVD and Blu-ray sales charts — good for another $50 million, at least. With that kind of success, a sequel seems inevitable, especially if executives have their way.
In this case, the studio is Universal, the boardroom that has been dropping admittedly risky but potentially great projects (e.g. At the Mountains of Madness, The Dark Tower) for no-brainer flicks like a sixth and seventh Fast and the Furious and Hasbro game movies like Battleship (which is just Transformers at sea). It’s a business, so you can’t quite blame Universal chief Ron Meyer for wanting another hit, and the hefty profit that comes with it. But Wiig wants to move on.
Meyer wined and dined Wiig and offered her “likely” eight figures for a sequel, according to the Hollywood Reporter, but she declined. Commendable considering the offer was easily the largest possible payday of her career. THR also implies she was insulted by a relatively small $100,000 bonus after Bridesmaids‘ success, but her actions speak louder than her “no comment.” Because Wiig could, without a doubt, churn out a funny-enough follow-up where, perhaps, her awkward Annie character marries Chris O’Dowd’s Officer Rhodes, and the hijinks continue a la The Hangover: Part 2. But she won’t. Not anytime soon, any way.
“We aren’t working on that,” said Wiig, who co-wrote the R-rated comedy with her friend and fellow Groundling, Annie Mumolo. “Annie and I aren’t planning a sequel. We are writing something else.” Wiig is adapting Clown Girl, a 2007 novel by Monica Drake about a funnywoman “unwittingly transformed into a ‘corporate clown,’ trapping herself in a cycle of meaningless, high-paid gigs that veer dangerously close to prostitution” (Amazon). Sound familiar? She also hopes to make the project her directorial debut, time permitting.
Keep in mind Wiig is still juggling her duties on “Saturday Night Live,” until the end of the 2012 season at least. She’s also producing Imogene, a dark indie comedy she shot already with Annette Benning, plus a supporting role in March’s Friends with Kids. This summer, she is starring alongside Robert De Niro in The Comedian, a drama Sean Penn is directing. In other words, Wiig is busy with other plans, not playing Hollywood hardball.
However, with that sort of money up for grabs, Universal may be “willing to pursue another Bridesmaids without Wiig.” It would be a controversial move for an easy cash grab, though that is par for the course at the studio. Matt Damon became disinterested in the Jason Bourne franchise, so Jeremy Renner is playing a similar character in The Bourne Legacy. Vin Diesel thought he could move past The Fast and the Furious franchise, and they pushed on without him. (Diesel came crawling back by the fourth installment). Perhaps Meyer would have more luck convincing Melissa McCarthy to do a spin-off?
The good news is Judd Apatow, the producer behind Bridesmaids and a number of other R-rated blockbusters, seems unwilling to move forward without Wiig and Mumulo and, after all his hits, he is the one with the most pull at Universal.
So stop your panicking. A Bridesmaids 2 will happen with Wiig, if and when the time is right, even if Universal is pushing for that time to come sooner rather than later. “The key is we have to come up with an idea that is as good or better than the first one,” Apatow said. “We don’t want to do it unless it can be great. I don’t think anyone has had the brain space to think about it yet. Hopefully that can begin this year.”
In the meantime, Universal is lining up Bridget Jones’s Baby, with Renee Zellweger.
By the way, take a look at this Bridesmaids “cutout” that accompanied THR’s article: