Ever since the release of films such as Bad Moms, The Heat and, perhaps most importantly, Bridesmaids, Hollywood seems to have realised just how profitable it can be to cater to a female audience. The movies earned $183.9, $229.9 and $288.4 million respectively and have seemingly opened the gates for a growing number of female-oriented films.
But the recent Girls Trip takes things a step further and tells its story with an all black, female-centred cast to very positive results. The film has earned $65.5 million in it’s first ten days according to Forbes and looks to keep going strong for a while yet as its earning only dropped 20% in its second weekend at the box office. This is huge as it not only encourages the production of more female comedies, something moviegoers are clearly interested in according to sales, but also encourages the portrayal of two underrepresented demographics in the genre. This evolution is one that will spawn some of the most original comedies to date with characters we have yet to see on the big screen.
Girls Trip, a tale of four friends and their antics during a New Orleans music festival, stars Queen Latifah, Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish and offers a new spin on entertainment directed at women. In an article by Hollywood Reporter, director Malcolm D. Lee said he wanted to provide an alternative to the negative, reality TV shows where women are constantly fighting and throwing drinks in each others faces and show women getting along and developing friendships in a positive way. Some of the first people Lee showed the film to, his wife and her book club, said “I love how soft they are with each other” – a sign that proved Lee’s determination to portray “real relationships” between the protagonists. Lee went on to say that while the success of the NASA drama Hidden Figures is unprecedented, he wanted to show a lighter side of black women, one that Lee hopes everyone can enjoy regardless of their skin colour.
In its mission to show women in an authentic, humorous light, Girls Trip takes many cues from the movie that seemingly launched a rise in popularity for women’s comedy films, Bridesmaids. Although the Kristen Wiig-led title revolves around a wedding and tempers often flare in the film, its mission to give women a realistic portrayal on the silver screen has inspired more and more directors to take a crack at the task.
Bridesmaids director Paul Feig even noted, in a report by Deadline, that during the production of the comedy he had many female writer friends trying to sell female-driven films to studios. However, the studios wanted to wait to see how successful Bridesmaids would be before pulling the trigger. In a sense, Feig felt he was responsible for the future of female-focused films and was relieved to see the sales the movie achieved. Since then, the movie would be known as the comedy that started it all. The movie even has its own slot game on 32Red, an online casino site that offers a series of licensed movie slots, as well as games such as roulette and blackjack. Despite its overwhelming success, though, it appears the chances of seeing a Bridesmaids 2 have all but disappeared as no major developments on the sequel have come to light and Wiig has confirmed that she has already turned down the role.
Feig would go on to direct Melissa McCarthy hit, The Heat and then the Ghostbusters reboot, a film that was clouded by much online criticism before its release. While the 2016 Ghostbusters managed to almost mirror box office results of The Heat, many fans criticised the film for a lack of originality in replacing its iconic, original cast with female counterparts. However, it’s because of Feig that a reboot like that was possible or even plausible as many studios might not have given the film a chance without first seeing how a movie like Bridesmaids could perform so well in the box office.
This brings us back to Girls Trip and the state of female films today. With original concepts like Girls Trip raking in the cash, we should expect to see all sorts of comedies we never thought would hit the big screens. Not just about female leads, but every walk of life imaginable. We have a new, successful superhero film with Wonder Woman, which Slash Film is praising as comic titan DCs best yet. That’s huge considering we haven’t had any female superhero films to date. Horror movie Happy Death Day and drama Before I Fall take on the Groundhog Day trope to a new level as one woman has to relive every day until she figures out a way not to be killed and another has to find meaning in her life while she relives the last day of her life over and over. And, lastly, Ellen Page will star in the film Lioness that follows a U.S. marine officer and her mission to befriend Afghan women so she can score intelligence on their husbands in the Taliban.
Girls Trip, while it might not take on quite a serious subject, is part of this movement for women’s movies and movies in general to be unique but authentic toward a group of people that are underrepresented – traits we can now see are being built upon as cinema takes a step toward heightened diversity. We just hope that the trend continues with the comedy genre as it’s always important to have a good laugh – no matter where or who it’s coming from.