— Cosmopolitans in hand, women are ready to make "Sex and the City" a moviegoing phenomenon. Again.
With the mostly female-skewing audience about to head to theaters, New Line Cinema is betting that women have missed Carrie Bradshaw and friends. The studio, which scored $152 million domestically plus another $262 million internationally for the first movie, has a lot riding on the sequel. Don't bet against it.
Yet, for producer and writer Michael Patrick King, the money that could be earned with "Sex and the City 2" was always secondary to making sure the film delivered untold escapades about Carrie and Co. But he wasn’t exactly confident that he had a compelling reason to continue with a sequel.
"No, I wasn’t actually sure, but all I can do is follow my hunch,” King said. “With these characters, there’s always going to be an interest for me. As long as you’re trying to reflect life through their eyes, you’ll probably find the story."
In the last film, Carrie was stood up at the altar by Big before finally tying the knot in a courthouse. With that out of the way, she and her friends now trade Manhattan soot for Moroccan sand. Samantha’s ex-boyfriend is in the North African desert filming a movie, so she, Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte decide an overseas trip is just what’s necessary to get their minds away from the daily grind.
"I think Michael is just preternaturally gifted because he has such a sense of whether there’s a story to tell, and if we should be asking people once again to leave their homes,” said Sarah Jessica Parker. “We think a lot about that. We ask so much of this audience. They’ve paid for us forever. We were never in their home for free. We were always asking to be invited and it continues in the movies.”
Living up to fans’ expectations
Besides Parker and her "Sex" entourage — Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon and Kim Cattrall — the guys are back as well as well: Chris Noth as Big; David Eigenberg as Miranda’s husband, Steve; Evan Handler as Charlotte’s husband, Harry; and Jason Lewis as Smith, Samantha’s boy toy. Plus, John Corbett returns as Aidan, the man Carrie let get away.
Transitioning a hot show into a successful movie isn’t always easy, and keeping those same fans interested in a sequel can often be just as difficult. Yet Davis said she and her castmates have complete confidence in King and Parker to make sure "Sex and the City 2" doesn’t feel like a blatant money grab.
"Michael and Sarah are so obsessed with story and living up to the expectations of fans that we would never do anything if the two of them didn’t agree there was a story to tell," she said.
Very often with sequels, the story feels so thin that it leaves a bad taste with audiences. And losing viewers’ goodwill can hurt down the line in terms of further projects.
There have been many sequels that were clearly as good or actually improved upon the original — think "Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan," "The Godfather Part 2" and "The Dark Knight" — while others have been embarrassing train wrecks. ("Arthur: On the Rocks"? Dudley Moore, what were you thinking?)
While Parker would only go forward if the story met her expectations and standards, the actress is also a producer of the film, and had to make sure a sequel made financial sense for all. She said the extra title makes her all the more determined to make sure the show’s legacy isn’t tarnished.
"I feel such a sense of being a guardian of the movie in certain ways," she explained. "It’s incredibly complicated to do both jobs and try to do them well, but I feel such a sense of responsibility to it and the people I work with and work for. I love how hard it is."
Although there are many benefits to playing the same character throughout a TV series and film franchise, the downside is that new jobs can be hard to come by. Typecasting is a mixed blessing: You’ve probably made a nice living because you’ve played the same role for so long, but that can hamper professional aspirations of breaking out and doing something different.
Davis understands the dilemma.
"I think you would be really naive to say that you are not being typecast after you have become really identified with one character," she said. "There is sometimes frustration where you want to be seen in a different way or you want someone to let you do something differently, but the good thing about Charlotte and all four of us is that we have gotten to grow so much in our parts. So it’s not something I am overly frustrated with, but I do think it would be naive to say that it’s not happening."
But she has three best friends forever. And you can’t put a price on that.