by    in Data

Baby Bomb – Here’s How We Knew Bridget Jones’s Baby Would Tank

Doc is going to be honest here. He was probably never going to buy a ticket for Bridget Jones’s Baby… mostly because Doc believes in restricting oneself to just an apostrophe when a possessive word ends in “s.” But also because the travails of a winsome Anglo-dumpling with a journaling fixation never held much personal appeal.

But movies that Doc doesn’t personally care for make bank all the time, and clearly there were plenty in Hollywood (or at least at Universal Pictures) who were convinced that the franchise’s devoted fanbase would turn out for another spin on the Bridget-go-round. And why not? Over the past couple of years, Sequels That No One Asked For actually have been a pretty safe bet, especially the ones targeting women over 25. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 wasn’t the surprise smash of the original, but it more than made its budget back, grossing a respectable $60 million in the U.S. And last year’s Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel took in over $80 million worldwide, with a little over a third of that total coming from the U.S. With this summer’s sleeper hit Bad Moms proving the strength of the women-over-25 market, and credible critical response, most experts were looking at Bridget Jones’s Baby opening at $15 million, if not higher.

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Of course, the gang here at Ranker are not “most experts.” And accordingly, Doc can say that we had a pretty strong idea that Bridget Jones’s Baby was due for a troubled birth and a sickly, blighted existence on this earth. How’d we know?

Easy. We pulled up Ranker Insights, and dug into the numbers on Bridget Jones’s Diary, the first and best-regarded of Bridget’s misadventures. After all, the fanbase for Bridget Jones’s Diary seems like an obvious—really, the obvious—group for the movie to market to. And we learned all sorts of interesting things, like that it’s the 66th best rainy-day movie, and that Bridget’s stateside popularity is strongest in the southeast, then wanes as you move north and west across the country.

And then we pulled up the list of other films that Bridget Jones fans were most likely to voice their approval of. The first on the list, unsurprisingly, is Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, the (widely derided) first sequel to Diary. But how about those next six titles? See if you can spot any pattern…

  • Love Actually
  • Elizabeth
  • About a Boy
  • Notting Hill
  • Sense and Sensibility
  • Four Weddings and a Funeral

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You’re a smart cookie—you see where Doc is going with this, yes? No fewer than five of those six movies feature the harried, boyish stammerings of one Hugh John Mungo Grant. (And in related news: Mungo? MUNGO? Doc swears he isn’t making this stuff up.) Yes, Love Actually additionally features Grant’s Bridget Jones co-star Colin Firth, which probably accounts for its placement at #2 on the list after Edge of Reason. But otherwise, the message is clear as day: Above all others, Bridget Jones fans love, love, love them some Hugh Grant.

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This would be just peachy, except for the tiny, easily-overlooked detail that Hugh Grant decided he wanted no part of Bridget Jones’s Baby, and isn’t in the movie.   Even if you’ve just seen the film’s traditional three-shot poster, you know that the role of “handsome douche” previously filled by Grant is this time assayed by Patrick Dempsey (nee McDreamy). Now Bridget Jones fans don’t seem to have anything especially against Dempsey. On the list of TV shows most liked by Bridget Jones fans, Grey’s Anatomy ranks #9. (It’s still behind Pinky & the Brain and Golden Girls, so go figure.) But there’s no comparison between their mild affection for Dempsey and their deep and abiding passion for Hugh Grant. Their feelings for Grant’s co-stars Renee Zellweger and Colin Firth similarly pale by comparison. After Edge of Reason, the top Zellweger film on the list is Chicago, at #19. Zellweger’s breakthrough film, Jerry Maguire, sits at #532.

Wouldn’t you think that if the Bridget Jones fanbase was really devoted to Renee Zellweger, they’d be more inclined to like Jerry Maguire than, say, The Mighty Ducks or American History X? But no. Apparently, fans of Bridget Jones would rather watch Ed Norton curb-stomp a dude than see Renee Zellweger “complete” Tom Cruise. Good stuff to bear in mind when you’re planning your next at-home double feature.

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And so there was zero astonishment around Ranker HQ when Bridget Jones’s Baby didn’t even crack $9 million in its opening weekend. Doc takes no joy in being right about this stuff. He wants all the movies to do well, what with a rising tide lifting all boats and everything. But when you blow it this big, and this obviously, you deserve to get called on it.

So for future reference, trying to sustain a movie franchise after shedding its fans’ favorite character/actor is a lousy idea. And that’s the only truth Doc has for you this week, baby.