party chat

Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy Celebrated the Bridesmaids Box Office With ‘High-fiving and Boozing’

At the after-party last night for a screening of Midnight in Paris presented by the Cinema Society and Thierry Mugler, Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy showed up in a celebratory mood. The director of Bridesmaids and its breakout scene-stealer were all smiles about the Kristen Wiig comedy’s healthy opening weekend, and in a conversation with Vulture, they talked about where they were when they got the box-office returns, how studio bosses almost ruined Feig’s weekend, and the status of a Bridesmaids sequel.

What were you doing this weekend when Bridesmaids opened? Were you breathlessly watching box-office reports?
Feig: We actually had dinner Saturday night, the night that was kind of our do-or-die night, and, um, we had gotten reports that it was going well Friday, but then Saturday we weren’t sure. So when we were eating dinner, I actually got an e-mail that said we were up 40 percent from Friday and were kind of a bona fide hit. So we celebrated. We went to the theater, couldn’t get in because it was sold out, so stood on the side and watched people enjoy it. So it was nice.

They let you in to stand?
Feig: Yeah. You have a thing where you can say, “I’m the director and she’s in the cast,” they’ll let you in for five minutes.

Don’t you know who I am?
Feig: Yeah, right. Exactly: “Hey you … ” It’s Hollywood.
McCarthy: It’s such an incredible thing, they’re like, “There are no seats.” We’re like, “Lovely.” I’ve never been so happy to not get a seat at the theater in my life.

Did people recognize you?
McCarthy: Well, one show was letting out, and as they were coming out, I was with my husband, who is also in the movie as the air marshal, and as he’s coming out, people were like, “Wait a minute! What?” I think they were a little, like, “What’s happening?” And we just turned around quickly and were like, “Ahhh!”
Feig: It all became much too real. It was exciting.

Was there any cheering and screaming and clinking of glasses when you got that e-mail on Saturday night?
Feig: Oh yeah. We were literally in the middle of dinner, and they had opened a nice rose Champagne they brought over, a nice Veuve Cliquot, and yeah, there was definitely high-fiving and much boozing going on.
McCarthy: There were lots of motions that we don’t usually make, like high-fiving and fist bumping.
Feig: A lot of head butting.

Were you surprised that people embraced the movie?
McCarthy: I was not.

You thought people would love it.
McCarthy: I loved it so much, I was so proud of all the women in it, and the script, and I thought that Paul and Judd [Apatow] did just a perfect job with it, and I thought, My God, if people don’t love this, I’m going to pack it up and move back to Illinois. I mean, you always hope for everything and have your doubts, but this one, people just seem to love it, and I love it, and I can’t be that crazy.

What about you, Paul? Were you surprised?
Feig: I was a little more nervous. I mean, I felt really great about it, because I knew it worked, but right before we opened, the studio projected we were going to make $13 million on the opening weekend, which would not have been good. So out of the blue it was like, Oh my God, what do they know that I don’t know? So it was this very tense weekend, [and] we ended up doing really well, and we just kept building throughout the weekend. Originally we were supposed to be, like, at 22, then we hit 24, and on Monday morning we were at 26. So in a way, it was nice they lowered my expectations, but they made for the most neurotic weekend ever.
McCarthy: Yeah.

The reviews were pretty much great.
Feig: Yeah.

I did see a bad review, I think in the New York Post, and someone I spoke to wondered if it might be like Sex and the City 2, where if women are funny, it gets panned.
Feig: We’re like at 89 or 90 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, which means most people like us. But then the people that don’t like us really don’t like us, so I think either they’re being contrarian or they just don’t like this kind of comedy, which is fine. Comedy is a very personal thing, but I like the people who like us.
McCarthy: I just think you have to actually see it before you review it or have a comment on it. My God, you know, you can not like something for sure, but it’s the people that haven’t seen it, they’re like, “I think it’s like this.” They usually describe exactly what our movie is not.

On the set, did you ruin a lot of scenes from cracking up, with all those comics on set?
McCarthy: It was one terrific headache after the next. I’ve never been in such, like, weird, delightful pain in my life, because literally there were times when I was like, “Shut up! Shut up, I’m blacking out!” In all seriousness, I couldn’t get air in, and, like, there was always someone at some point with hands on knees, bent over, going, “Stop it! Stop it, I can’t breathe!” Just ridiculous.
Feig: Because they’re such funny women and we just allowed them to do their thing. We hired them, (a) because they’re super talented, and (b) because they’re funny and great at improv. And so we had a great script that Kristen and Annie [Mumolo] wrote, but then let them then play with it, and the stuff they would play with, I would ruin takes because I’d be right by them, off-camera, and I would laugh and you’d kind of hear me.

Are you thinking of a sequel now?
Feig: Who knows? I mean, it depends how we do in the next couple weeks, but I know there’s definitely … it’s already been brought up. So, um, you know, when you get a group that’s this deep and this good, it’s a crime to not use them again. You just want to make sure that you do it as well as you did the first one and try to make it better, even. So, we’re up for the challenge.
McCarthy: I will show up wherever these guys tell me to go. If it’s a play in their backyard, I will gladly do it. I’ll do kids’ parties for them, I’ll do bar mitzvahs; I’m in.

Since the movie came out, have people been asking you to be in their wedding parties?
McCarthy: [Laughs.] No! I think anyone who maybe has an engagement ring on has actually shivered as I walked past them.
Feig: [Laughs.] That’s right.

Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy Celebrated the Bridesmaids Box Office With ‘High-fiving and Boozing’