'Bridesmaids' Hauls in the Cash, But Hand-Wringing Continues

$153 million or no, is Hollywood really ready to make more comedies with women?

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Bridesmaids is now officially the highest-grossing R-rated female comedy and producer Judd Apatow's most successful film, but not even the movie's $153 million (and counting) haul at the domestic box office seems to have eased fears that Hollywood will find a way to screw up future attempts at "female-oriented" comedy

The only one doing any real gloating is Apatow, who last week sent Deadline's Nikki Finke an email she likened to a "bitchslap" but was really more of a not-so-gentle reminder that she said the film's trailer was "embarrassing" and didn't have "a single laugh in it" when it debuted in February. "I am so delighted to confirm that I was right and you were wrong," Apatow wrote. "From now on when you say something which hurts me, I will remember to read your early Bridesmaid's opinions and predictions and that will soothe me." ("Just add another notch to that fast-disintegrating bedpost of yours, Judd," wrote Andre Tartar at New York magazine's Vulture blog.)

At Jezebel, Erin Gloria Ryan is unimpressed: "Bridesmaids has just surpassed Sex & The Cityas the number one grossing female-oriented qualifier-heavy R-rated comedy of all time," she announces, slipping in a dig at previous R-rated female comedy champ Sex & the City ("I guess I didn't realize that Sex & The City was a comedy. I thought it was an allegory and that each of the four female protagonists represented an aspect of the global economy that led to the financial sector implosion in 2008"). She also wondered, though, if the performance means that "Hollywood won't have to market a female oriented film to the masses by bragging about how it doesn't suck like all those other movies about women."

In an interview published today over at Movieline, director Paul Feig articulated similar fears, and voiced concerns about whether the writers and actors who stand to potentially benefit from the film's success really understand what made it work. Said Feig:

"I’m thrilled, and I hope a lot more get made. My only fear is that the takeaway from this for other people isn’t, 'They did it gross and dirty, so let’s be ten times as gross and ten times as dirty and we’ll have ten times as big of a hit.' The takeaway needs to be — because of Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo’s great script — the story. It’s a very engaging real story that we fought very hard in the rewriting process to make sure tracked emotional; that we were telling a very real story in the heart of a sometimes very big comedy. So, what I don’t want is a bunch of other women’s movies get greenlit, and they don’t get done correctly, and then people go, 'Bridesmaids was just a fluke!' and they go back to not making movies with women. I really want this to be the seed that sprouts into a very lucrative and successful female-movie market."

Considering Apatow's comments about the current backlog of female-driven scripts that piled up as Hollywood executives waited for the film to open and Feig's hints at a sequel later in the Movieline interview, any Bridesmaids-effect projects may be waiting in line behind pre-existing ideas for quite some time.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.