BRIDESMAIDS was nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe for best original screenplay, and it’s a fun read on its own.
Bridesmaids is a 2011 American comedy film written by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, directed by Paul Feig and produced by Judd Apatow, Barry Mendel, and Clayton Townsend.
The plot centers on Annie (Wiig), who suffers a series of misfortunes after being asked to serve as maid of honor for her best friend Lillian (played by Maya Rudolph). Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Ellie Kemper, and Wendi McLendon-Covey co-star as Annie’s fellow bridesmaids, with Chris O’Dowd and Jill Clayburgh—who died of leukemia in November 2010 before the film was released—playing key supporting roles.
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Bridesmaids was both critically and commercially successful upon its opening release on May 13, 2011, in the United States and Canada. The film grossed $26 million in its opening weekend, eventually grossing over $288 million worldwide, and surpassed Knocked Up (2007) to become the top-grossing Apatow production to date. The film received a 90 percent overall approval rating from Rotten Tomatoes and served as a touchpoint for a discussion about women in comedy.
It was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, and received multiple other accolades. On January 24, 2012, the film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Melissa McCarthy and Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. This made it the first Apatow film to be nominated for an Academy Award.
The script, originally titled Maid of Honor, was written by Kristen Wiig and fellow actress and screenwriter Annie Mumolo. Friends for years, both had met each other at The Groundlings, a Los Angeles-based improvisational comedy troupe where they wrote sketches with one another, in the early 2000s. The basic premise for the film originated in 2006, shortly after Wiig was cast in the supporting role of a passive-aggressive cable television executive in producer Judd Apatow’s comedy film Knocked Up (2007).
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Recognizing her comedic talent, Apatow asked Wiig if she had any ideas for a screenplay herself – a practice which had previously led to Steve Carell’s idea for The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005) – and she and Mumolo soon came up with Bridesmaids. Over the following years, writing commenced, with Wiig working on Saturday Night Live in New York City and Mumolo grinding out the script in Los Angeles. The two would meet on weekends and conduct semi-regular table reads of drafts for Apatow to get his suggestions and notes.
Bridesmaids was budgeted at $32.5 million. Though primarily set in both cities, Milwaukee and Chicago, principal photography actually took place in Los Angeles, California. Production designer Jefferson Sage, who has worked with Apatow and Paul Feig since their Freaks and Geeks days, noted that the first fact that appealed to him about the project “was that you had these two disparate worlds.
There was Annie’s world in Milwaukee, and then there was Helen’s world in Chicago. It immediately drew this dichotomy between the rivalry that developed between them.” However, Sage acknowledged that it was a challenge to find “architecture that would give us those Midwestern worlds. Chicago is a beautiful, distinctive city architecturally, and restricted views of downtown L.A. feel like Chicago.” The production decided to use the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden as the location for Lillian and Dougie’s wedding.
Additional scenes where Annie meets Officer Rhodes on the highways between Milwaukee and Chicago were filmed in Oxnard, California, which Sage described as a “broad, flat, green area away from mountains