David Friendly’s produced everything from My Girl to Little Miss Sunshine, so one has to assume the guy has some level of interest in female characters in the first place, even if it’s from men and boys’ points of view. But it’s still revealing to read a piece he wrote for the Hollywood Reporter yesterday about why his production company is focusing on female characters and women writers, and what it took for them to come to that decision. It turns out it was a combination of Tad Friend’s profile of Anna Faris in the New Yorker and the box-office success of Bridesmaids has him thinking along these lines:
If the Bridesmaids Effect really takes hold, imagine the possibilities. There’s the comedy about the bachelorette party gone horribly wrong. There’s the nightmare honeymoon from the woman’s perspective. The Bridesmaids Effect allows entire genres to be reimagined. Chicks on horses. Women in space. Time-shifting gals. […] In an effort to ride the Bridesmaids mo’, over here at Friendly Films we started thinking about one of our projects in development. Why couldn’t the protagonist and friends be women? It would freshen up this reboot, and we could call upon one of these talented and funny screenwriting women who have emerged like Jeremy Renner in an action movie. Now we are combing the town and asking for meetings with women screenwriters who will transform this in an organic way.
All of these things — telling stories from women’s perspectives, recognizing that women can do lots of different things, trusting women writers to tell women’s stories in an authentic and engaging way — feel absolutely obvious to me as good ideas from a quality perspective. But it really does take evidence that something is not just good, but profitable, to get people excited about producing it.
One thing I think we can take away from Bridesmaids, though, is that the threshhold to convince Hollywood there’s an untapped market out there is fairly low. The movie is undeniably a hit, and it’s made $138,712,688. That’s not really a lot of money in comparison to Thor’s $435,391,615 domestic and international gross so far, but it’s enough to get a lot of projects in the pipeline, both for movies and television. Now if only we could get some comparable successes, driven by multi-demographic audiences, for movies starring African-Americans, or Latinos. Hollywood just wouldn’t know what to do with the embarrassment of potential riches.