The Big Problems Behind the Delay in a New 'Bridget Jones' Movie
As Helen Fielding's third book piques interest, a rival project and Renee Zellweger's fading star could prevent a trilogy.
This story first appeared in the Oct. 25 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Bridget Jones isn't getting any younger. But there seems to be no sense of urgency to marry her off to a Hollywood suitor.
Film rights remain available to Helen Fielding's latest adventure, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, the third literary outing for the self-deprecating heroine who counts calories and units of booze consumed with the fervor of a Nobel-winning chemist.
Despite mammoth first-day sales Oct. 10 in the U.K. for the new book (46,000 copies) and two hit Bridget Jones films totaling $545 million at the worldwide box office, neither Universal Pictures nor London-based production outfit Working Title has struck a deal for the tome. It finds Bridget, now 51, a widowed mother of two after the death via land mine of Mark Darcy, played in the films by Colin Firth. Working Title produced 2001's Bridget Jones's Diary, which helped establish star Renee Zellweger at the top of the Hollywood food chain, as well as 2004's Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Universal released the latter, which did nearly as much business worldwide as the first film.
"The book's imminent publication in many territories has taken up all of Helen Fielding's time, and no consideration has yet been given to the film rights of Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy," Fielding's London-based agent Imogen Pelham tells THR of the novel that went on sale in the U.S. on Oct. 15.
In the nine years since Edge of Reason, Zellweger's star has faded. The last film she appeared in was 2010's My Own Love Song, which was not released in the U.S. Further complicating matters, Working Title and Universal are developing Bridget Jones's Baby, based on a Fielding original screenplay. That film, which would reunite Zellweger, 44, Firth, 53, and Hugh Grant, 53, was scheduled to shoot in 2012 with director Peter Cattaneo (The Full Monty) but abruptly was halted. At the time, Working Title's Tim Bevan told THR, "We are still working on the script, hence the delay to the start of production, but the film is going ahead as planned." Zellweger's reps say she still is attached to Baby, though Firth told the Chicago Sun-Times in April, "You might be seeing Bridget Jones' granddaughter's story being told by the time we get there."
Working Title could choose to ditch Baby and pursue a Boy movie with Zellweger or another actress -- if it secures rights. A source says Working Title "has an unwritten rule that they would get any Bridget Jones films. The Brits are different. They work as family, and Bridget is part of the family."