Will Packer Says Studio Originally Wanted Girls Trip To Feature 2 Blacks, A Latina And A White Woman
Before Girls Trip was released, Will Packer took part in a panel with director Malcolm D. Lee and star Regina Hall to speak on how the film celebrates Black women. During that conversation, he shared that, sadly, it took some convincing to get the studio behind the film to let it shoot with its predominately Black cast, particularly the leads. In fact, he said they were pushing for a more…er…diverse group of friends to check out the Essence Fest together in the story.
“The conversations was, ‘Can we do like two black women, and a white woman and a Latina?’ We had a lot of those,” he said according to Deadline. “You don’t see crews of two black women and two white woment [sic] hanging at Essence; if we’re going to make this, we’re going to make this right. We’re going to be true to what this really is. There’s no other way we would’ve made it.”
Months after that conversation, the film went on to quickly gross $100 million following its July 21 release. The Black female cast that Packer vouched for helped the project soar past expectations. In a new interview with Vulture, Packer recalled that conversation with the studio, why he pushed so hard for Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall and Tiffany Hash and how it paid off big time.
“What’s interesting is that, just in general as you talk about creating movies, the conversation inevitably goes back to, ‘Who is the audience for the movie and is that audience big enough to support the budget of the film?'” he said. “Universal was extremely supportive of this idea for a movie. Especially Donna Langley, the chairwoman. She was somebody who got it, right away.”
“There were conversations, once you get into the specifics of development, around if there’s a ‘broader version’ of the film,” he continued. “This type of film starring these women had not been done before to this level of success, not as a comedy. But knowing this audience, I know the value of this audience, and I pushed them really hard with the studio. ‘We can do this, and we can do this with these actors, because that’s the most authentic version of the movie.’ And, ultimately, they agreed.”
Packer doesn’t fault the studio, though. He said their concerns were valid considering the fact that a film like Girls Trip hadn’t been done before for the big screen and at the budget it required.
“With any film, you’re going to have all kinds of thoughts and notes and opinions that come in,” he said. “When you’re doing something that has not been done 20 times before to great success, there’s going to be a level of risk that you’re taking, and a leap of faith from the studio side. Studios are in a tough position: They have to fund these movies, fund the marketing. To do that, you’re putting yourself in a risk position, and you’re doing everything you can to mitigate that risk while still taking a chance. It makes the film industry very interesting. It’s a creative industry undergirded by economic imperatives that we all have to operate under. It’s tough sometimes to balance it, but that’s my job as a producer.”
So with all that being said, does that mean we can expect a sequel to the hit film sooner than later? According to Packer, it’s something they are all conversing about presently.
“We’re definitely talking about it,” Packer said. “The only thing harder than opening a studio comedy today is opening a studio comedy sequel. [Laughs.] That’s the next challenge. I love our team. If anybody can do it, we can do it. It’s still a little early — the movie is still in theaters — but it’s something we’ve all thought about.”
If the sequel is anywhere near as funny as the original, Packer and company can expect another $100 million-dollar moneymaker at the box office.