EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures and Working Title Films will need a new director for Bridget Jones 3, and I hear they want a Brit. Paul Feig has withdrawn after developing the most recent draft of the script with the intention to direct. I’m told that both sides agreed it didn’t work out and that maybe this is just a quintessential British comedy that needs a British sensibility. They will set a director soon as they are still slated to start production in January, with Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant all eager to return.
Feig has enough to keep him busy at Universal, where he just directed the sleeper hit Bridesmaids. He’s got two projects there including an untitled comedy that he’s writing to direct for producer Judd Apatow, with the hope that Jon Hamm will play a guy obsessed with a woman who’ll be played by Melissa McCarthy. That certainly puts much of the Bridesmaids team together, and it will have to do until the studio figures out a way to get moving on a Bridesmaids sequel after the first one grossed $286 million worldwide on a $32 million budget.
Hamm was recently quoted saying that Kristen Wiig, who starred in and co-wrote the original, wasn’t likely to come back. I’ve been hearing the same thing for a while, but the studio is hopeful that things have changed since when she was first asked, when the film was just becoming a phenomenon and it was all a bit overwhelming. She’s now doing her final season of Saturday Night Live, and it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to start the next stage of her career with the second installment of a franchise that people actually want to see. Wiig wrote the script with Annie Mumolo, and so far they haven’t even come up with a sequel idea. Of course, Universal has experience continuing hit movies when the original stars don’t return: That happened with The Fast And The Furious when Vin Diesel declined to return for the second film. The franchise did fine anyway, and he’s back now. If the studio can get back Wiig and the cast that includes McCarthy (who is proving herself an accomplished physical comic actress most recently with last weekend’s outrageously funny SNL hosting stint), the sequel makes too much sense not to happen in some form.