Bridesmaids box office: Starring Kristen Wiig, Paul Feig’s raunchy women-centered comedy is a domestic sleeper hit in the making
May 13–15 weekend box office: Directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Chris Hemsworth, Marvel/Paramount Pictures’ superhero actioner Thor was the no. 1 title on the North American (U.S. and Canada only) box office chart, grossing $34.7 million (down 47 percent on its second weekend) according to final studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com.
Yet this past weekend’s success story was that of a bawdy, women-centered comedy: Universal Pictures’ Bridesmaids, directed by Paul Feig and coproduced by Judd Apatow.
A generally well-regarded ensemble piece with a particular focus on the down-on-her-luck Milwaukee bakery owner played by Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids earned $26.2 million from 2,918 theaters – nearly $2 million above the studio’s Sunday estimates and about $6–$11 million above pundits’ expectations – thus boasting the highest per-venue average among the weekend’s Top Twelve movies: $8,995.
Far ahead of female-focused romantic comedies, far behind one raunchy male-centered blockbuster
Here’s a quick comparison to four other female-centered (or -geared) comedies of the last few years:
- Kate Hudson and Ginnifer Goodwin’s Something Borrowed opened with $13.9 million last week (updated domestic cume: $39 million).
- Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway’s Bride Wars opened with $21.1 million in January 2009 (domestic cume $58.7 million).
- Patrick Dempsey and Michelle Monaghan’s Made of Honor opened with $14.8 million in May 2008 (domestic cume $46 million).
- Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s Baby Mama opened with $17.4 million in April 2008 (domestic cume $60.5 million).
Expect Bridesmaids – reported budget: $32.5 million (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses) – to far outperform all of them.
And here’s a comparison to one raunchy, male-centered comedy Bridesmaids has absolutely no chance of outperforming: Directed by Todd Phillips, and starring Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, and Justin Bartha, The Hangover – curiously, also involving an upcoming wedding – opened with $45 million from 3,269 locations in June 2009, ending its run with $277.3 million domestically, in addition to $192 million internationally. Worldwide total: $469.3 million. Budget: $35 million.
Unusual number of women-centered titles among weekend’s Top Twelve
Also worth noting, Bridesmaids is the only women-centered 2011 release so far to become a domestic box office hit.
In point of fact, women fared surprisingly well this past weekend – in relative terms, that is, especially during the “official” (and invariably male-oriented) summer season. Besides Bridesmaids, no less than four other Top Twelve films have women at their core:
- The romantic dramedy Jumping the Broom (Paula Patton, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine) at no. 6.
- The aforementioned romantic comedy Something Borrowed (Kate Hudson and Ginnifer Goodwin) at no. 7.
- The “inspirational” Christian drama Soul Surfer (AnnaSophia Robb, Carrie Underwood, Helen Hunt) at no. 10.
- The computer-animated Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil (voices by Hayden Panettiere, Glenn Close, Joan Cusack, Amy Poehler) at no. 11.
One could also add the comedy-drama Madea’s Big Happy Family (at no. 9), even though the central female character is played by a guy (Tyler Perry, working alongside Loretta Devine, Cassi Davis, and Shannon Kane).
In addition, four other Top Twelve titles have key female roles: Thor (Natalie Portman) at no. 1, the computer-animated Rio (Anne Hathaway voices the bird Jewel) at no. 5, the period romantic drama Water for Elephants (Reese Witherspoon) at no. 8, and the supernatural horror thriller Insidious (Bridesmaids’ Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye) at no. 12.
Fewer women last year
For comparison’s sake: A year ago (May 14–16), the only Top Twelve movie (more or less) centered on female characters was the romantic comedy-drama Letters to Juliet (Amanda Seyfried, Vanessa Redgrave).
Only five other titles had female co-leads or near-co-leads: The romantic crime comedy Date Night (Tina Fey); the crime-free romantic comedy The Back-up Plan (Jennifer Lopez); another romantic comedy, Just Wright (Queen Latifah); the family black comedy Furry Vengeance (Brooke Shields); and, to some extent, the horror thriller A Nightmare on Elm Street (Rooney Mara).
Bridesmaids movie cast
Besides Kristen Wiig, the Bridesmaids movie cast also includes Maya Rudolph as Wiig’s soon-to-be-married friend, foul-mouthed bridesmaid Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne as a wealthy and snotty bridesmaid, Ellie Kemper, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Rebel Wilson, and the recently deceased two-time Best Actress Academy Award nominee Jill Clayburgh (An Unmarried Woman, 1978; Starting Over, 1979) in her final big-screen role as Wiig’s mother.
Bear in mind that in spite of its extensive female cast, Bridesmaids isn’t like George Cukor’s 1939 classic The Women. In other words, Paul Feig’s movie also features men: Chris O’Dowd, Jon Hamm, Matt Lucas, Michael Hitchcock, Tim Heidecker, Ben Falcone, and Terry Crews.
Two territories lift Hollywood comedy’s international take to surprising heights
Update: Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids ultimately collected a remarkable $169.1 million domestically and $119.3 million (possibly incomplete) overseas. Worldwide total: $288.4 million.
That’s a hugely profitable figure.
A 2021 Australian rerelease raked in another $18 million, lifting the international total to $137.3 million. Final global cume: $306.4 million.
Australia and another English-speaking (combo) territory, the United Kingdom/Ireland, were responsible for more than 60 percent of Bridesmaids’ surprisingly – for an American comedy featuring no international stars – solid gross outside the U.S. and Canada: $46.7 million (including the 2021 rerelease) and $37.2 million, respectively.
Next in line – and far behind – were Germany ($8.1 million), Spain ($4.8 million), France ($4.6 million), Sweden ($3.5 million), and Russia/CIS ($3 million).
2 women-centered titles among year’s domestic Top Twelve
In the domestic market, Bridesmaids was one of two women-centered sleeper hits among 2011’s Top Twelve movies, right behind Tate Taylor’s socially conscious period drama The Help (Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain, etc.; cume: $169.5 million at no. 11).
The only other Top Twelve title with a woman as its central character was Bill Condon’s romantic fantasy adventure The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (Kristen Stewart; cume: $274.8 million at no. 3).
Internationally, Bridesmaids was no. 22; The Help was no. 29 ($216.6 million). Among the Top Twelve, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 was the only title featuring a female character at its core ($712.2 million at no. 4).
“Bridesmaids Box Office: Women-Focused Sleeper Hit” notes
Also this past weekend, Scott Charles Stewart’s 3D horror thriller Priest, starring Paul Bettany as the title character, flopped with critics and audiences alike. Karl Urban, Cam Gigandet, and Maggie Q costar.
Unless otherwise noted, “Bridesmaids Box Office: Women-Focused Sleeper Hit” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline.com, etc.).
Comments about Bridesmaids and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).
Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).
Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.
Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig Bridesmaids movie images: Universal Pictures.
“Bridesmaids Box Office: Women-Focused Sleeper Hit” last updated in October 2023.