Why 'Bridesmaids' Beat Box Office Expectations

4:36 PM PST 05/15/2011 by THR Staff
Universal

UPDATED: The Kristen Wiig film grossed $24.6 million in its opening weekend, instead of the anticpated $15-17 million, putting it at No. 2 behind "Thor."

Kristen Wiig's Bridesmaids surprised box office prognosticators this weekend, scoring a $24.6 million opening.

That surpassed the anticipated $15-17 million bow that had been predicted for the movie, which also stars Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Ellie Kemper, Melissa McCarthy and Wendi McLendon-Covey (Jon Hamm also makes an appearance).

Here are three reasons the movie performed so well:

1. It had overwhelmingly positive reviews. Critics including THR's Todd McCarthy praised the movie and its star. "For longtime Wiig fans, this uneven, overlong, emotionally involving and discreetly ambitious film will represent a welcome and overdue step up from her popular sketch work on Saturday Night Live to something sustained and searching, not to mention pretty funny," McCarthy wrote.

2. It benefited from positive word-of-mouth. Moviegoers liked Bridesmaids, giving it an average grade of B-plus, according to CinamaScore. That means they likely passed word on to their friends, who passed it on their friends, etc.

3. It's produced by Judd Apatow. The filmmaker has a huge following thanks to films like Superbad, Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin. It's safe to say that fans know what they're going to get when Apatow is involved -- and wanted more of the same.

4. It was aided by a female-drive social-networking push. As pointed out by one of THR's astute readers in the comments section, women -- including several high-profile females in the entertainment industry -- began spreading the word about the film via the Internet and mass e-mails in an effort to get people to go see the movie. Kirsten "Kiwi" Smith, a producer and the screenwriter of Legally Blonde and The House Bunny, was among those who sent mass e-mails, according to Salon, while Slate’s Double X blog also featured a pro-Bridesmaids post by TV writers Elisa Zuritsky and Julie Rottenberg ("Sex and the City"), despite the fact they had yet to see the movie.

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