A lot was riding on 'Bridesmaids.' It was reported that many studios were waiting to green-light any female-fronted films until the key first-weekend box office returns for the film were tabulated, a rumor Apatow confirmed in an interview with The New York Times.
"Sadly, I think some of that talk was true," Apatow told the Times. "There are a lot of female-driven comedies on the bubble at the studios, and they do look to measure how well these things do and what levels of interest there are in certain genres."
Apatow continued, "One of the reasons there was pressure is because the studios knew this movie came out very well, and if nobody bothered to go see it, they could say, 'Even when you make a really good one, nobody comes.' But because people came, the opposite lesson was learned, which is, there's an enormous neglected community of moviegoers who want to see films like this."
The 'Knocked Up' director produced the Paul Feig–directed, Kristen Wiig/Annie Mumolo–scripted film for Universal. Wiig stars as a beleaguered maid of honor forced to suffer through the traditional bachelorette shenanigans in the lead-up to her best friend's (Maya Rudolph) wedding. Naturally, a variety of obstacles pop up, from a competing bridesmaid (Rose Byrne) and a jerk womanizer (Jon Hamm) to food poisoning and the character's real-life money problems, with Wiig forced to persevere to make sure her BFF's big day is the best it can be.
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Describing the sexism 'Bridesmaids' and other female-driven films face, Apatow said:
I always felt it was important to sell it to women and hope the buzz got around to men, that it's just as funny to them. It's ridiculous that women have to see 8 million male-driven films, and no one ever says, "Will women come to see these five guys hijack a plane?" They just assume they'll come because they have no other options. This conversation never happens in the reverse. There aren't people in a room right now, terrified about whether women are going to show up to 'The Hangover.' It's great that there's proof that there is a big market – and proof that men want to see this movie about women.
With 'Bridesmaids' an official success -- the film cost just over $32 million and should recoup its production budget by the end of the week -- a variety of other unconventional (i.e., non-rom-com) comedies featuring women as the central character look likely to move forward. Among them are a stoner comedy, tentatively titled 'Best Buds,' being developed by Natalie Portman's production company as a potential vehicle for the Oscar-winning actress and 'The Low Self Esteem of Lizzie Gillespie,' a long-in-the-works comedy scripted by 'The Office' writer and star Mindy Kaling.