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It has been the quietest blockbuster of 2011. Yet Paul Feig’s well-received ensemble comedy Bridesmaids certainly earns the title, having just passed the initial Sex and the City film to become the highest-grossing R-rated female comedy in Hollywood history.
It couldn’t have happened to a better film. On Sunday, July 3 -- or 52 days after opening on May 13 -- the bawdy but remarkably clever comedy pushed its overall cume to $152.8 million at the domestic box office, surpassing the $152.6M earned by Michael Patrick King’s feature-length Sex in 2008. Granted, Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph’s comedy isn’t doing nearly as well overseas, grossing an estimated $34.8 million as opposed to the $262 million earned by Sex (according to Box Office Mojo figures). But Bridesmaids didn’t have the advantage of a long-running HBO series acting as a commercial for the feature-film exploits of Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her Gotham crew.
No, instead, Team Bridesmaids did something out of the ordinary: They constructed a fantastic comedy about a well-intentioned but flawed heroine trying to be a decent friend, and waited for crowds to find it. Incredible word of mouth kept audiences coming, helping the film to become not just the highest-grossing R-rated female comedy, but also the highest-grossing film on producer Judd Apatow’s impressive resume. Feig’s comedy now has made more than Apatow’s own Knocked Up ($148.7 million) and Adam McKay’s Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby ($148.2 million).
Logic dictates that Universal will try to squeeze a sequel out of the Bridesmaids crew, as the studio would with virtually any property that performs to this level. But instead of seeing a formulaic effort that mirrors the original (hello, The Hangover: Part II), let’s hope Universal opens up the checkbook and asks Wiig to come up with another wildly original idea for these incredibly funny ladies. If you’ve watched her on Saturday Night Live, you know she has a stash of great concepts in her creative well. Give her a chance. She’s more than earned it.