On this day in 2008, the film version of HBO’s iconic comedy series Sex and the City, starring Sarah Jessica Parker, premieres in more than 3,200 theaters around the country and goes on to become a big box-office success.
The Sex and the City TV series, which debuted some 10 years before, was based on the book by the same name by the New York City socialite and writer Candace Bushnell. As conceived by Darren Star (famous for the long-running Fox series Beverly Hills, 90210, about rich and privileged teens growing up in that Los Angeles-area Zip code), the show followed the 30-something sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw (played by Parker, an executive producer of both the series and the movie) and her three very different girlfriends–libidinous Samantha (Kim Cattrall), prim Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and cynical Miranda (Cynthia Nixon)–on their adventures in New York City.
Arguably the main drama of the series revolved around Carrie’s on-and-off relationship with the emotionally evasive businessman she dubbed Mr. Big (Chris Noth). In the series finale, which aired in February 2004, Big follows Carrie to Paris, where she has moved with her latest beau, to proclaim his love for her. As Sex and the City: The Movie opened, the couple is planning to move together into a sumptuous Manhattan apartment. A wedding is planned, and Carrie’s three friends–now all involved in committed relationships themselves, with varying degrees of success–gather to watch the fireworks that ensue. The high-fashion element of the trendsetting TV show–especially Carrie’s outrageous ensembles, dreamt up by the series’ costume designer, Patricia Field–was played up even more in the movie, including couture brands such as Louis Vuitton and designers such as Vivienne Westwood.
Though a movie version of Sex and the City was buzzed about shortly after the series wrapped up in 2004, the project stalled due to questions over money and co-star Cattrall’s reported reluctance to sign on to the project. The popularity of the show was fueled after its finale by rerun episodes appearing in syndication as well as strong DVD sales, and the movie, written and directed by Michael Patrick King, was eventually made on a budget of some $65 million.
Despite mixed reviews from critics, the film’s box-office success would immediately spark talk of a sequel. After opening in midnight showings, Sex and the City: The Movie raked in some $55.7 million in its opening weekend, beating out the latest installment in the Indiana Jones franchise, Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, according to a report in the New York Times. As the Times pointed out, this fell short of the mark that some predicted after sold-out early shows led to a $26 million haul on opening day, but it far exceeded previous opening weekends by similarly female-driven features (so-called “chick flicks”) such as The Devil Wears Prada ($27.5 million). It was also the strongest opening for a movie with a female lead character (without adjusting for inflation), beating out the previous mark of $47.7 million set by Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), starring Angelina Jolie.