Mostly Female Crowds Make 'Sex and the City' No. 1

Sex and the City took in more than $55 million last weekend — almost twice what Warner Brothers had hoped for the film based on the HBO series. At a Washington, D.C., movie theater, a mostly young, female audience was gushing over the movie's high fashion, stylish cocktails and frank talk about men and sex.

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Indiana Jones and his leather bullwhip were no match for stylish shoes and cocktails. We all knew that women all over America were gearing up for the movie based on the HBO series "Sex and the City." It opened over the weekend, and it blew away box office expectations, taking in more than $55 million.

Anthony Brooks samples some of the "Sex and the City" hype.

ANTHONY BROOKS: Well, I'm here at the Regal Cinema on a Saturday evening not far from NPR headquarters on 7th Street here in Washington D.C. And this is the 7:00 p.m. showing of "Sex and the City."

Unidentified Man: 6:15, 6:30, 7:00, 7:01, 7:30.

BROOKS: Most of the people here are white women, I'd say in their 30s. They've dressed up pretty stylishly for this show. And there's a lot of excitement to see this movie.

Ms. SARAH CRAIGHILL(ph): Well, I just loved the show.

BROOKS: This is Sarah Craighill of Annapolis, Maryland. She's here for the big movie, which picks up where the TV series left off four years ago. It follows the adventures of the oh-so-fashionable Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, and her three New York pals and their frank talk about sex, love, men and friendship. Again, Sarah Craighill.

Ms. CRAIGHILL: It was so much fun, and they would say the things that you were always sort of thinking but never really felt comfortable saying. I think of the absurdity that we all experience and sometimes you feel like you're alone in it, but actually they brought it to the surface in a way that made it hilarious and made that OK.

Ms. LAUREN DEKAS(ph): I think for me it was that, you know, I really have a lot of strong female friends.

BROOKS: This is Lauren Dekas of Washington, D.C.

Ms. DEKAS: And I saw a lot of my friends in the different characters on the show. So watching the show with those friends, you know, helped us bond even further.

BROOKS: So it was the model of friendship that you liked?

Ms. DEKAS: Exactly. And the drinking.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BROOKS: "Sex and the City" was lavishly promoted with an enormous pent-up fan base. But this past weekend's excitement caught many industry experts by surprise.

Mr. PAUL DEGARABEDIAN (Box office analyst): This is just something that was way underestimated.

BROOKS: Paul Degarabedian is a box office analyst in Southern California.

Mr. DEGARABEDIAN: You know, this is a cultural phenomenon. If you look at the box office numbers, it shows you that women wield a tremendous amount of clout at the box office.

BROOKS: That's not to say there weren't a few men who ran out to see the movie as well.

Mr. EDWARD ALLEN: I'm excited to see it.

BROOKS: This is Edward Allen, a fashion coordinator for Nordstrom's.

Mr. ALLEN: The TV show changed the way America dressed, quite honestly. It really showed about mixing high and low. I'm dying to see where they take this story, but honestly I'm here for the visual candy.

BROOKS: OK. Well, I've come around the other side of the Regal Theater and I'm waiting at the bottom of the escalator and the 4:30 movie is just getting out now. And I'm going to find out what people thought about it.

Ms. MACKENZIE VERSHAW(ph): I loved it. I thought it was smart and funny and it was the first chick flick I've ever seen that didn't talk to me like I'm an idiot.

BROOKS: That rave from Mackenzie Vershaw of Washington D.C. Stefanie Steinmetz and Irina Smotrich(ph) agreed and say too few movies focus on female friendships. [POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: Stefanie Steinmetz and JESSICA VOGEL are quoted below.]

Ms. STEFANIE STEINMETZ: They try to show that there's women and friendship and that's the main focus, but it's not. There are very few shows and movies that are about it.

Ms. JESSICA VOGEL: A lot of them focus on the men and the relationships with the women, and the friendship is always a side story. This, because it's been going on for so long, I mean, the men have come and gone, the drinks have come and gone, the random nights have come and gone, but the friendships have always been there the whole time.

BROOKS: Given all the excitement, it's probably safe to expect a sequel. So coming soon, more "Sex and the City."

Anthony Brooks, NPR News, Washington.

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'City' Girls, Talking Love and Marriage — At Length

Sarah Jessica Parker in 'Sex and the City' i i

Too chic: Fashion plate Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) finally has the perfect accessory — a groom-to-be. Craig Blankenhorn/New Line Cinema hide caption

itoggle caption Craig Blankenhorn/New Line Cinema
Sarah Jessica Parker in 'Sex and the City'

Too chic: Fashion plate Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) finally has the perfect accessory — a groom-to-be.

Craig Blankenhorn/New Line Cinema

Sex and the City

  • Director: Michael Patrick King
  • Genre: Romantic Comedy
  • Running Time: 148 minutes

Kristin Davis, Kim Cattrall and Cynthia Nixon in 'Sex and the City' i i

Model friends: Charlotte (Kristin Davis), Samantha (Kim Cattrall) and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) keep Carrie company even when her seams are showing. hide caption

itoggle caption
Kristin Davis, Kim Cattrall and Cynthia Nixon in 'Sex and the City'

Model friends: Charlotte (Kristin Davis), Samantha (Kim Cattrall) and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) keep Carrie company even when her seams are showing.

It's been four years since the TV finale of Sex and the City, and the gals are much as they were when their fans last saw them: Charlotte's still a wide-eyed dreamer with her adopted daughter in tow. Neurotic Miranda can still be prickly, perhaps because of that commute from Brooklyn. Samantha's live-in Hollywood hunk isn't enough to keep her from feeling constricted by monogamy. And Carrie? Well, after years of on-again, off-again with Big, she's talked him into tying the knot.

At which news, a restaurant full of Manhattanites breaks into applause.

If you follow the show, you'll be pleased to note that in addition to oceans of pink cocktails and much ado about Louis Vuitton — the latter prompted mostly by the presence of former Dreamgirl Jennifer Hudson — there are emotional crises galore, a trip to Mexico (mostly for a change of scenery) and no fewer than three separate fashion parades, one of which involves wedding gowns that make Sarah Jessica Parker appear to be drowning in everything from whipped cream to popcorn.

Like everyone in the film, Parker's Carrie encounters obstacles, and her posse faces those obstacles together, surrounding her with a family that has nothing to do with genetics.

And if this fabulously decked-out foursome is self-absorbed enough to be inadvertently cruel on occasion, they also suffer lots of guilt — though their angst is rendered somewhat less angsty for viewers by the zingers, the designers, and the cheerfully objectified men on display.

Writer-director Michael Patrick King, who shepherded the TV series through its last couple of seasons, knows what fans like — and he has provided close to five episodes' worth in the movie, which clocks in at roughly two-and-a-half hours. That'll be a little much for non-fans, but it seemed to please the crowd at the press screening I attended.

Admittedly, the energy did seem to go out of the auditorium about halfway through the picture, when the projector's framing slipped so that microphones were suddenly visible at the top of the screen — but you couldn't see anyone's shoes.

And there were some gasps at the very beginning, when the projectionist started with the wrong wide-screen lens — briefly turning the heroines into plus-size dames walking arm in arm. (Not quite the big-screen expansion the capacity crowd was expecting.)

But for the most part, this celebration with Carrie & Co. — television writ large, murmurs the hidebound critic in me — seems precisely the Sex and the City reunion the show's fans had hoped for.

Correction Sept. 24, 2009

The audio for this story incorrectly attributes the final quote to Irina Smotrich. In fact, it is Jessica Vogel who says, "A lot of [shows and movies] focus on the men, and the relationships with the women and the friendships is always a side story. This, because it's been going on so long, the men have come and gone, the drinks have come and gone, the random nights have come and gone, but the friendships have always been there the whole time."

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