'Bridesmaids' box office success: Paul Feig, Kristen Wiig deserve to bask in the glory, too

kristen-wiig

Image Credit: Suzanne Hanover

It needs to be said, first and foremost, that there’s no question — or even a debate, really — that Judd Apatow has produced some of the biggest stars and the best comedies of the past decade. After all, the Apatow factory has turned out hilarious hit movies from the likes of reliable stars like Steve Carell and James Franco. There’s some serious gratitude to be paid towards the guy.

What’s more, as we noted recently, as of July 1, the runaway hit comedy Bridesmaids — which Apatow produced — has earned an unexpected, albeit deserved, $153 million at the box office since finding its way into theaters and moviegoers’ hearts/funny bones. And following its box office success, the film has been touted in most headlines as the highest-grossing Apatow movie. But while he most certainly had his hand — and touch (i.e., the gross-out humor) — in the project, I can’t help but wonder: Shouldn’t we spread the credit a smidgen? While it’s reasonable to call it Apatow’s biggest hit, why aren’t we shouting from the rooftops with joy that Bridesmaids‘ director Paul Feig, who has been at the helm of classic episodes of The Office, Arrested Development, and Parks and Recreation (and most importantly gifted us the short-lived wonder that was Freaks and Geeks alongside Apatow) is finally getting his due on the big screen? For many, Feig is already an unsung hero, so why has so little of the accolades for the film’s draw (it beat the box office odds and overcame being wrongly heralded as a “chick flick” and the “female Hangover“) been directed towards him? Not only is it Feig’s biggest commercial success as well, but his work behind the camera truly helped navigate the movie to become the hit it is.

The same goes for star Kristen Wiig. The Saturday Night Live star had plenty going against her before the flick opened (besides small parts in Knocked Up and Whip It, she wasn’t yet a marquee name, not to mention some folks downright loathed from her work on SNL), but her layered script (kudos must be given to her co-writer Annie Mumolo, as well) and performance silenced even her biggest naysayers — and made her a movie star. While the film is most certainly an ensemble (scene stealers Melissa McCarthy and Chris O’Dowd have rightly earned their praise, too), shouldn’t we also be congratulating Wiig for penning a relatable and funny hit movie that appealed to both men and women? When it comes to the game-changing success of Bridesmaids, a movie that (hopefully) will once and for all silence the question about whether or not women can open movies, we should give credit where credit is due: To Feig and Wiig, too. (The fact that it rhymes is just an added bonus!)

Who do you attribute the success of Bridesmaids to, PopWatchers? Apatow, Feig, Wiig… or Jon Hamm’s naked torso?

Read more:
‘Bridesmaids’ duo Paul Feig and Judd Apatow to reunite for another comedy
Should there be a ‘Bridesmaids’ sequel?
‘Bridesmaids’ trailer: Director Paul Feig talks making an R-rated comedy about, and for, women — EXCLUSIVE

Comments (71 total) Add your comment
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  • Justin P.

    Neither Franco nor Carrell are A-listers. In fact, very few actors and actresses are.

    • jake

      I thought it just wasn’t that funny of a movie. Only one major laugh for me and I love Kristen wiig.

    • LOL

      AmericalovescrapandLOLlovesittoo! Fast Five! Fast FIVE! FAST FIIIIIVE!!!

    • LMAO@Brian1

      “will once and for all silence the question about whether or not women can open movies…”

      Are you serious?? We have known for a long while that women can open movies: THE BLIND SIDE, MAMMA MIA!, THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, the first SEX AND THE CITY, SALT, THE PROPOSAL, MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING and countless other films that starred women and/or powered at the box office by female moviegoers.

    • Emma

      James Franco is definitely A-list. Common on. Just because he hasn’t starred in any romantic comedies doesn’t mean he’s obscure.

      • ben

        The A-list is an actual, physical list circulated by agents/managers/casting directors in the industry. Harrison Ford is A-list. Robert Deniro is A-list. Franco? Perhaps not.

        What most people don’t realize is that being on the A-list is a solid fact, not an opinion. It’s not a question of whether an actor is obcsure or not.

    • co.lor.ful

      In what way are Franco and Carrell NOT A-list?

      • ben

        The “A-list” is not an imaginary idea. It’s a REAL list. I don’t know if Franco or Carrell on the list or not, but, unless you’ve spoken to their respective managers or agents, you don’t know either.

  • Regina George

    That’s not what the article’s about.

    • Geek

      Am I the only person who thought this movie wasn’t funny?! Extremely overrated. I wanted to like it a lot, but the movie just irritated me and made my skin crawl. It wasn’t even the gross-out stuff. It was just the annoying predicaments and characters with no assertion. Queasy end result.

      • chevy51

        Yes.

      • Krissy

        @Geek – Yes, you are the only one. This was the FUNNIEST movie I have seen in a really long time. I laughed from beginning to end. Had a hard time driving home because my contacts were messed up with tears and mascara! LOVED IT!!!!

      • Darla P

        definitely – you are the only one – funniest movie I have seen in a long, long time

      • @geek

        Yes, geek. You are. Let me guess, your definition of a funny film is Kick Ass,your favorite romantic film is Catwoman, and your favorite film ever is Batman and Robin?

      • greer

        Yes, you are the only one who thought the movie wasn’t funny.

  • Michael

    It has actually made $153.8 million to date.

  • Roger Stead

    I don’t see how this is really a major hit! It grossed $150 mill… sure that seems like a lot until you compare them to other films… Pirates 4: 1.8 BILLION, Hangover 1: 430 mil, Hangover 2: 468 mil, Ironman 445 mil… I hardly would call this a box office smash. In fact, I’m tired of hearing about it.

    • whatevs

      Sure, a movie is only a smash when it breaks historical records.

    • Lindsay

      Money is not everything! It is considered a hit because of how low the budget was compared to the overall gross, the reviews for the movie which have been outstanding, and the week to week holds in box office intake. It has never had a drop greater than 35% at the box office. even Pirates can’t do that…

    • Monty

      When a movie makes 5 times its budget, its a hit. By the way, Pirates 4 is at $1.008 billion, not $1.8 billion. Huge hit? yes. Its made 4 times its budget. But it had a budget of $250 million. Bridesmaids had a budget in the $30 millions. If you want to get more detailed, Pirates 4 made like $450 million domestically, the rest overseas. So it hasn’t made back double its budget here. Conversly, Bridesmaids has made $150 million domestically, and $30 million overseas. While one is making more total money, the fact that Bridesmaids is making that much bang for its (relativly) low budget is very good.

      • Jacob

        PIrates 4 did poorly domestically: $234 million, 16 million shy of its reported budget. Most of it’s money came from overseas.

        And @Roger Stead: don’t lump in Bridesmaids domestic gross with the international grosses of those other films. It’s unfair, to the max.

        Also worthy of note: Bridesmaids has never left the top 10 weekend box office during its 8 week run. Hangover 2 lasted five weeks, dropping to 12th this past weekend. Pirates 4 lasted six before dropping to 13th this weekend.

        It’s a hit. There’s no denying it.

      • Monty

        I don’t know if i looked at a different PotC movie or just misread the amount, but you’re right. boxofficemojo shows PotC 4 as earning $234,200,000. I don’t think they get to keep as much $$$ as they do in the foreign market either. Then again, the longer a movie is in theaters, the higher % the theaters get to keep, and with Bridesmaids legs, the theaters are making more and more money. Still, no argument that Bridesmaids is anything but a success.

      • LOL

        Monty, babydoll—it’s actually more expensive to promote Pirates that it was to make Pirates. That production budget of $250M is just the beginning—it usually costs an additional 200-300% of the production budget amount to market the movie. So you’re looking at $500-750M before the movie even starts to make money. Granted, it’s doing so, but that’s why movies like Green Lantern bankrupt a studio if produced when the studio is on shaky ground. That’s exactly what happened to Carolco, which produced Terminator 2. It also produced Cutthroat Island, which dragged the studio into severe debt (the film alone cost $100+M, not including marketing).

      • LOL

        Oh sorry—FAST FIVE FAST FIVE FAST FIVE CRAP CRAP AMERICA FAST FIVE CRAPMERICA!

    • Ryan

      I completely agree with everything responded to this thread. If you compare this to, say, Thor which had like a $200 million budget and didn’t even crack that in the States and then you have Bridesmaids that has made over $150 on a mere $30 million budget with barely ANY big name stars in it…then yes, I would call it a hit!

    • kate middleton

      Ugh, I am tired of hearing about it too.

    • Mel B

      Oh pa-lease! Those are all HUGE studio franchise films! And each of them have sequels!!
      I’m not as chick-flicky as I thought I once was, and this movie I didn’t chalk up to that category. I was laughing the entire time, and cringing too. That whole bridal store scene? I had to stop watching and just listen to my friend guffaw until she assured me the gross was over.

    • ben

      Are you COMPLETELY stupid? You’re comparing the earnings ofa movie that cost $32.5 mil to produce with movies that cost hundreds of millions to produce. Idiot.

  • graeme

    Yes, Wiig deserves credit and I think she absolutely is.

    “When it comes to the game-changing success of Bridesmaids, a movie that (hopefully) will once and for all silence the question about whether or not women can open movies”…what a silly statement. There’s no question that women can open movies. Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, Jodie Foster, Angelina Jolie, and others have been doing it for years.

  • Dan

    Wiig is the true star here I gotta say.

  • Woot

    Apatow is definitely getting too much credit. Yes, producers do a fare amount of work… but he neither directed, wrote or starred in the movie. The others definitely should be getting more recognition.

    • L Daddy

      @Woot – I beg to differ. Whenever Apatow casts a rising star/starlet, he asks them to write a comedy movie, even if they have never done so before. When he produced Anchorman, he asked Steve Carrell, who was virtually unknown at the time, if he had any movie ideas, and Carrell said all he had was the title: The 40 Year Old Virgin.

      That’s also how he got The Pineapple Express from Seth Rogen, and not one but two great movies from Jason Segal.

      I saw Kristin Wiig on a late night talk show, relating her meeting with Apatow. She had never written anything before – she had to buy a “How To” screenwriting book off of Amazon. Who do you think was most directly responsible for transforming Kristin Wiig from SNL regular to hit movie writer?

      If anything, the guy deserves credit just for being super awesome.

  • mm

    lets not forget Maya Rudolph and Rose Byrne!!

    • graeme

      Yeah, Byrne could have been a complete cartoon villain, but she created a real character that you actually still liked (which was important for the final act of the film).

      • Ben

        Yes! Rose and Maya were fantastic. Also, Wendi Mclendon-Cover and Ellie Kemper were magic together. Everyone was awesome. The only character I didn’t think worked very well was the one played by Matt Lucas, but that’s not the actor’s fault.

  • josh

    My curiosity about this movie is at its peak due to all the comments from people who despised Kristen Wiig on SNL but loved her in this.She must have done something right to sway so many opinions about her.And popular opinion is also that the script,which was co-authored by Wiig,was a big factor as well.So I think it’s safe to say she’s become one of Hollywood’s elite(at least for the time being).

    • Amanda

      I’m one of those people. I don’t like her characters on SNL. But, even before Bridesmaids, I enjoyed her in movies. I liked her in both Knocked Up and Whip It. I think she has a more natural acting ability that other SNL alums who have graduated into movies.

  • barrytheclefairy

    Why are we acting like this film appealed to both men and women? It didn’t. The gender breakdown of people who went to see the movie was more than 2 to 1 in favor of women. WOMEN saw this film. WOMEN watched it. Men avoided it if at all possible. For good reason too – Bridesmaids is painfully unfunny.

    • Jay

      Your are full of it. I’m a man, and I loved “Bridesmaids” just as much, if not more, than my wife did. The movie is absolutely hilarious.

    • Lee Harvey

      Bridesmaids was much more serious than I expected, but that doesn’t mean it was bad. In fact, just the opposite. It was quite good.

    • Dave

      Don’t speak for all men. My girlfriend and I both wanted to see it, and we both enjoyed it.

    • Mike

      This is the funniest movie I have seen in a long time. Actually went a 2nd time this weekend.

  • tomm

    A year ago, bloggers and critics were writing off Wiig as ‘overexposed’ and ‘plays the same characters’.

    Also, shows that not all movies have to be about slacker 20-something ‘boys’ who refuse to grow up.

  • MhM

    Movie was hilarious…all that matters.

  • Sean

    Aly Semigran…this was a great article. I had been debating writing a similar one for my site, but you’ve basically hit the nail on the head with this one. Feig did some great, great work on Arrested Development and The Office (though the former will always be the brighter bulb for me), and I think he translated his apt attention for hilarious detail to this one. It’s unfortunate that Apatow – as talented as he is – is given the headlines instead of Feig, Mumelo and Wiig. Hopefully they’ll get their due!

  • Pubeefa

    Movie was awesome. Props to Wiig and Feig….especially to Wiig.

  • TorontoTom

    Any word on whether Wiig will concentrate on a film career and (FINGERS CROSSED) leave Saturday Night Live?!?

    • LOL

      Bridesmaids is not crap. Happy for its success.

      • TorontoTom

        C’mon now – it wasn’t in the same league as FAST FIVE…

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