Paul Feig on the Record-Breaking Success of Bridesmaids and What It Means for Hollywood
Why do you think Bridesmaids struck such a chord? Have mainstream audiences gotten smarter since Freaks and Geeks?
Because comedy has changed in the last five years. Part of it is what Judd ushered in with all his movies, bringing back that same ethos that we did on Freaks and Geeks into films. It's also I think -- this is completely non-scientific and just my opinion -- but I think the Internet and YouTube helped usher in my favorite kind of comedy, which is behavioral. All the videos that go viral are very behavior, because a lot of it is real-life stuff that people are watching; funny, weird behavioral things that happen to real people that then get passed around. I think people have gotten in the past five or six years much less tolerant of "jokes." And they're really demanding that humor come out of an honest place.
It's very funny. When The Office first came on, people had a hard time embracing it, because of the documentary style and because of the slightly more naturalistic feel of it; The Office was very behavioral and real. And then suddenly people just started to get into it. I remember when it first started, people would go, "Oh, I can't watch it, the camera is moving all over the place; it feels weird." And now no one thinks about that -- again, because that's all you see on YouTube. It's all people capturing stuff with cellphones and handheld cameras. People like that fly-on-the-wall quality. Even though I didn't shoot Bridesmaids that way, that's the style of acting, writing, and performance in our portrayal of the world we're showing.
Look, it could all change next year -- somebody could put out a big over-the-top comedy, and suddenly that makes a gazillion dollars, and people go, "Oh, we like that again! We're tired of the behavioral stuff." I hope they don't do that, because I'm not good with that other stuff [laughs].
It might not change that quick. Bridesmaids will even pass Sex and the City this weekend as the biggest female-fronted R-rated comedy ever. In your wildest dreams, did you ever think that was possible?
No. I'm hugely blown away by that fact. I didn't even know it was pending until that article came out in The Hollywood Reporter the other day. I just assumed Sex and the City had made like $250 million domestically. I'm very competitive in that way, I'm always looking at what record we can beat, but it wasn't even on my radar, because I didn't think we had a shot at it. I'm dancing in the streets about that one.
You mention your competitive fire; it has to be vindicating for you to finally have a hit after the commercial failures of Unaccompanied Minors and Freaks and Geeks.
I'm thrilled. It's really exciting. And it got me out of movie jail, which I at least had one foot in. You're proud of all your babies that you make, but I'm a realist and I know the business. If you make babies and they don't make money, people don't want to make more babies with you. So, at least I get a few more shots. It's what you hope for going into this business, unless you're a cool indie guy who is like, "I don't care what people think of my movie, I just want to make what I want to make." Which is a cool way to face things, but I think most people going into the business go, "I really want to make stuff that is creatively and critically satisfying, but that also does really well." This is the best of all worlds. At the end of the day, successful box office just means that more people saw what you did and liked it, and that to me is the most important thing. That a lot of people saw it and liked it.
When that phenomenon happens in Hollywood it seems like a sequel has to follow. Would you do a Bridesmaids 2?
It's not officially been moved toward, but I'd be very open to it. It would just have to be as good or better than this one. What you don't want to do is the one that ruins the memory of the first one. But nothing would make me happier if we could make another one with this amazing cast, and people go, "That's awesome!" If it's as good or as better than the first one, that would be fantastic. Because everything around it was great -- the cast, the people behind the scenes, the stories we're telling, the fact that we get to do movies for and with hugely talented women. What could be better than that? It would be great to carry that on, but, again, it has to be high quality.
So, record box office success, a possible sequel; seriously, how do you celebrate all this?
I drink heavily. No. I'm so used to having things go wrong in my career, the whole time I was like, "OK, it's going to completely fall in the toilet tomorrow." Like, suddenly, "It made zero dollars! It's out of all the theaters!" For me, I was kinda going -- as things were going really well -- "I'll celebrate when we hit $150 million." It could all fall apart, but if we hit that this weekend, there's definitely going to be a moment where I go, "Let's order a really nice bottle of champagne."
Bridesmaids is now at $153 million and counting. Hopefully Paul enjoyed that champagne.
Pages: 1 2