Decades ago, popular movies such as “Rocky” and “Jaws” settled into theaters for long runs, building their audiences from week-to-week. After “Star Wars,” this business model shifted dramatically. Current films have to hit the ground running because audiences will decrease in the second week. A 50% drop in attendance actually is fairly good these days; an increase in ticket sales is next-to-impossible.
2002’s “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” defied that logic in a big way. Actress/writer Nia Vardalos wrote the film based on her one-woman show about growing up Greek. Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson also helped produce the film under their “Playtone” label. Vardalos and co-star John Corbett did a press tour before the film opened, but the movie debuted quietly. Word of mouth built an audience over the summer; sell-out screenings were quite common in the ensuing months.
Vardalos, Corbett and the Windex jokes are back in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2,” a sequel which revisits that funny Greek family. Vardalos and Corbett’s characters, Toula and Ian, have hit a rough patch in their marriage as their daughter prepares to go to college. A big revelation, however, leads to yet another wedding for this Greek family.
After the original film became a hit, Vardalos was a critical darling in 2002, earning accolades and major award nominations for her work. CBS even took a chance on “My Big Fat Greek Life,” a television series based on the film. Even though most cast members returned for the sitcom, the show never caught on with audiences. There also were rumors of behind-the-scenes arguments between Vardalos, producers and writers.
In the years following the show’s cancellation, the actress/writer has appeared in other projects, even starring opposite Toni Collette in “Connie and Carla.” The duo played singers who gained immense popularity while posing as drag queens. In 2009, “My Life in Ruins” saw Vardalos playing a tour guide who finds love on a trip to Greece. But that Greek magic couldn’t help this particular romantic comedy.
Vardalos teamed up with Hanks again for “Larry Crowne,” a comedy set in the aftermath of the mortgage bubble. Hanks played a dedicated and downsized big box store employee. With an underwater mortgage and no job, Larry takes college classes in order to reinvent himself. Hanks is charming as always, but Vardalos’ script didn’t quite connect with audiences.
It’s good to see Nia Vardalos revisiting the role that put her on the map. Here’s hoping that audiences come back for another visit with an incredibly endearing family and the woman who brought them to life
“My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2,” rated PG-13 for some suggestive material, currently is playing in theaters.