Few mainstream actresses’ have suffered such an almighty fall as Renee Zellweger over the past five years. After becoming a genuine Hollywood star with her career defining role as Bridget Jones ten years ago (picking up an Oscar nomination in the process, rare for a romantic comedy) she then went on to become a heavyweight of the Awards season fare – picking up another nom for the musical Chicago and then finally winning the Golden statue for Cold Mountain in the two years that followed.
She followed that up with another great turn in Cinderella Man (2005) but then the wheels suddenly came off for her, leading to some dreadful choices which she has not been able to recover from. Her starring vehicle Miss Potter (a drama about the famous children’s author) tanked in the U.S. to a $3 million domestic gross, as did the risky supporting turns in the non-mainstream genre fare of George Clooney’s Leatherheads and the Western Appaloosa, which were all box office failures that lost considerable money.
In something of a panic to stay relevant, she returned to the rom-com genre that had worked so well for her before but perhaps jumping into problematic projects without thinking it through, she signed up to lame concepts and bad screenplays, leading to the loathsome New in Town (2009) and My One and Only (2009). You would be forgiven if you have never heard of either film.
Somewhere along there the American horror/thriller Case 39 that was shot in Vancouver in 2006… took an incredible FOUR YEARS to make into theatres in October 2010. The signs of an actress struggling in an industry that soon forgets who you are, was evident.
For the past two years it’s pretty obvious that Zellweger really needed a boost in her career that another Bridget Jones’s Diary would give her. It’s no surprise that in 2009, just at the time she was working on the two rom-coms pictured above, talk of another Bridget Jones film started to be spoken of (as that was clearly what she wanted to make, not those above) and I wasn’t at all surprised to hear earlier this year that author Helen Fielding had begun work on a third diary, the third novel that would eventually become a third film. No doubt Zellweger, Universal & Working Title were harassing her daily for two years to write another one.
EW has confirmed today that Bridget Jones’s Diary 3 is coming, the first film in the franchise since 2004′s box office smash but crucified by the critics sequel The Edge of Reason which is expected to be about Bridget’s desperate attempts to get pregant now she is the wrong side of 30.
Colin Firth, who plays the love interest Mark Darcy in the series, told Access Hollywood last year;
“I can tell you that Bridget and Mark can’t have children, I think that’s the way it goes on… so then she makes the huge mistake of going back to Daniel Cleaver [Hugh Grant's character] for long enough to get pregnant. And I think he dumps her, and she’s left stranded, and guess who comes back to rescue her?”
So for an inexplicable third time in this franchise, it will basically the same love triangle plot points all over again. Just with a baby thrown in there for good measure.
Of course it goes without saying Renee Zellweger will be back, and I imagine Colin Firth (seemed so last year) and Hugh Grant will also reprise as playing these characters is the easiest money of both men’s careers.
But as obvious as it is that this third Bridget Jones movie is being made to try and resurrect an almost dead career, there may be hope for this one;
Last month, The Daily Mail reported that Bridesmaids director Paul Feig had begun discussions with Universal and Working Title to direct the new Bridget Jones film. Having just delivered a $150 million box office smash and an R-Rated female comedy that was loved by men and women alike, you can see why they were so desperate to secure his name. They weren’t making movies like Bridesmaids ten years ago and he is the man they hope can bring a dated franchise to a new generation.
Feig is a talented guy who has a great eye for humour and perhaps he can make this third Bridget Jones interesting. Sharon Maguire, who has only made one film she directed the first movie (Incendiary) and Beeban Kidron helmed the sequel… Feig is a completely new voice for the series.
And with a stage musical of Bridget Jones, penned by Lily Allen, debuting on the West End in 2012… there’s an extra publicity boost for them to strive for here.
The biggest challenge for them of course is to make not only Bridget Jones relevant but also Renee Zellweger….