A very important movie is opening today: Bridesmaids.
We have nothing to do with Bridesmaids and have no idea if it’s even any good, but a lot is riding on how many people turn out to see it. Because even in the age of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (and following in the footsteps of Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler, and Diane Keaton), we’re still fighting a silent war to prove that women are funny-and profitable-at the box office. If Bridesmaids tanks, it will turn an already chilly climate for “chick flicks” frigid.
As moviegoers, we’re frustrated. As screenwriters, we’re screwed.
As Tad Friend so effectively detailed in a recent New Yorker article , the movie business is driven by the presumption that to make money, a movie must appeal to young men between the ages of 18 and 30. Hence the onslaught of action movies based on toys, video games, and comic books. But what about profitable films like Something’s Gotta Give , Mamma Mia or The Devil Wears Prada ? Flukes. As for the Sex and the City movies, they only made hundreds of millions of dollars because they had a built-in audience: Fans of the HBO show. Or so the mythology goes.
When we joined the writing staff of Sex and the City in 2000 , we were giddy to find that the episodes were actually drawn from the idiosyncratic, mortifying, true stories of the women sitting around the table in the writers’ room. With Michael Patrick King at the helm, we were all encouraged to divulge our darkest, weirdest, most unspeakable thoughts, and then assign them to Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, or Charlotte. Women tuned in. Money was made.
In a post- Sex and the City world, we naïvely assumed we’d see and write more movies about real women. But instead of basking in the glow of comic equality, we’ve learned that movie studios are terrified of female-driven projects. According to Friend, “Studio executives believe that male moviegoers would rather prep for a colonoscopy than experience a woman’s point of view.”
We’re not sure if Bridesmaids is any more or less unpleasant than prepping for a colonoscopy, but either way, we’re rooting for it. Because Hollywood needs proof that funny women can bring it at the box office. In the meantime, we’ll get back to working on our screenplay about an 11-year-old boy with an X-Box, diarrhea, and a dream.