Michael Patrick King knew the first “Sex and the City” movie would do better than the naysayers in the media were predicting, but the series’ longtime writer/director had no idea it would become a cultural phenomenon. Fans, mostly groups of women in their 20’s and 30’s, made the opening weekend a massive party. Many moviegoers went for drinks before or after (or both) and dressed to the nines like it was the opening of a big Broadway show. Hollywood, the studio, King and even the cast were stunned. When it came time to consider a second big screen adventure, King says it was those fans who were his “inspiration.”
“When I would see the audience showing up dressed and having cocktails before in groups and going out and I saw some people taking pictures of themselves in the theater seats I thought ‘This is an interactive party. This is no longer a movie,'” King recalls. “And when we were lucky enough, because of the love that was thrown our way by the box office of the first movie. to do a sequel, the first thing I knew was I wanted it to be a continuation of the party for the audience.”
The first “SATC” followed a year in the life of the original HBO series’ four main characters: columnist and author Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker); publicist and sexually uninhibited single lady Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall); stressed out lawyer and mom Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon); and conservative, but classy Charlotte York (Kristin Davis). As expected, the picture consummated with the long-awaited marriage between Carrie and Mr. Big (Chris North). It was a bit dramatic and at tad serious at times, but the fanbase ate it up. King knew, however, he’d have to go in a different direction the second time around.
“The one rule we”ve always tried to follow in ‘Sex in the City’ from the writing camp is don”t repeat. Dare yourself to change it. Break it. Move it forward,” King says. “It started out as four single girls and very early we married one of them off. I mean we defied the rules. So, I knew it had to be a different vibe.”
Sitting down to write at the beginning of the economic downturn, King realized turning up the comedy and making a more purposely entertaining picture was probably the way to go.
“I thought, ‘What”s my job? I”m not a banker. I can”t go and balance your books. I”m a movie maker, happily. I want to make a movie.’ And like they did in the Great Depression, I thought Hollywood should take people on a great vacation that maybe they couldn”t afford themselves,” King says. “I don”t think it was my job to have Carrie Bradshaw sell apples under the 59th Street bridge.”
Instead, Carrie and Co. end up on a journey halfway around the world to the lap of luxury in an Abu Dhabi resort where they meet sexy men (for Samantha, of course) and try to get away from it all. Of course, as with any Middle Eastern country, there are consequences for some of their actions, but that’s King and producer Parker making sure the reality of an Islamic nation isn’t lost on the New York City girls (and you can guess who out of the bunch causes all the ruckus).
Yet, as King notes, his job wasn’t just to inform about women’s rights in an Arab land (although the issue is not skirted), but “I think it was our job to give everybody the vacation that maybe they can”t afford now. They can [see this movie and] go on vacation with their other girlfriends which are these four ladies.”
“Sex and the City 2” opens nationwide tomorrow.