Hang up your hats, can the confetti, and call off the hen do. There will be no sequel to the hit comedy Bridesmaids after its co-creator and star defied industry convention to say no to a lucrative part two. Kristen Wiig told Harper’s Bazaar that it had not been difficult for her and her co-writer, Annie Mumolo, to turn down an invitation to revisit the disparate lives of women brought together by a wedding.
“We would have made a lot of money if there was a second one,” the former Saturday Night Live comedian-turned-actress said, “but that’s not my goal in my creative life.” The 2011 film’s director Paul Feig had earlier expressed an interest in a sequel but conceded the would-be franchise was Wiig’s “baby”. And she said one was always going to be enough. “We knew during the first one, this was it,” she added.
Wiig can afford to pick her projects and protect her artistic integrity, thanks in part to the triumph of Bridesmaids (it took almost £200m at the box office worldwide, and scored with critics, too) but her snub is refreshing in a Hollywood increasingly obsessed with the familiar and the franchised.
This summer is, as ever, dominated by derivative blockbusters including box office No 1, Man of Steel. Fast & Furious 6, Iron Man 3 and Star Trek: Into Darkness have also banked on repeat success this year.
Their appeal to studios is clear. The Hangover Part III lacks the laughs of the original, a sort-of brother movie to Bridesmaids, yet after five weeks it’s still at No 5 in the UK chart.
Charles Gant, the film editor at Heat magazine, says, sadly, that originality can be dangerous.
“The only big original summer movie is Another Earth with Will Smith, which has flopped. If it had been based on something more familiar, like one of his other hits, it would have been less risky,” he says.
Follow-ups can be great films in their own right. Before Midnight has been well-received this summer. An Empire ranking of sequels last year, meanwhile, put Aliens at No 1, ahead of The Godfather Part II, Terminator 2, Toy Story 2 and The Dark Knight. But in all of the above titles, the top acting talent returned.
There are precedents for Wiig’s “no, thank you”. Keanu Reeves and Jodie Foster have both turned down roles in sequels on creative grounds, only to be replaced in films that weren’t half as good as the originals (Jason Patric took over in Speed 2, while Julianne Moore replaced Foster in Hannibal).
Wiig and her Bridesmaid character, Annie, will suffer no such indignity.