Comedy plus wedding equals box office success (but being fat and Greek helps)

In Shakespeare’s day, plays concluded with weddings. They were a popular genre called festive comedies.

Today, films just go ahead and devote the whole plot to the commencement part.

This summer was representative of how audiences respond to two different types of wedding flicks. In the span of a month, marquees on multiplexes were cluttered with the titles Monsoon Wedding and My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

This month, one is on the video racks while the other is still playing – held over, if you will.

The sleeper that is Fat Greek not only surprised by sticking around this long, but also by making a dent in a blockbuster season sandwiched between xXx and MIIB. It starred a no-name “big girl” who only got the chance to star because Tom Hanks’ wife, Rita Wilson, saw an off-Broadway play about the complex, comedic life of a Greek girl in an American city.

Monsoon, however, was subtitled and took place in India. Plus, it was a film dealing with deep, dark topics. Oh, and it had rain in it. (OK, so perhaps its lack of success wasn’t a shock after all.)

But American audiences didn’t opt to see Fat Greek instead of Monsoon because it took place in America while the other was based in a land most U.S. citizens couldn’t locate on a map. Rather, when it comes to love, Americans like to laugh.

Wedding comedies have always proved successful. Just look at some of the more recent box office splashes that centered on nuptial ceremonies.

My Best Friend’s Wedding landed Julia Roberts back on Hollywood’s A-List, and even though she wasn’t the one getting hitched, she was humorous. People who don’t like Adam Sandler will at least admit that his best work came in The Wedding Singer.

Four Weddings and a Funeral was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar in the mid-1990s, and even the funeral was funny.J-Lo packed houses when she starred in The Wedding Planner. And the family-friendly Father of the Bride was a big hit – and it was a remake.

So, it goes to show that if you can combine comedy with weddings, you can make money in Hollywood. Of course, that’s not to assume Monsoon’s intent was to make an impression on America’s popular culture but only to observe that its short tenure on the big screen may have had something to do with the fact it was a drama.

The real anomaly, though, is Fat Greek, which was first released domestically April 19 has grossed $169 million to date. A few weeks ago, it reached the No. 2 spot on the top-10 box office list, and this past weekend it was still at No. 4. It’s becoming pretty clear that Fat Greek is not going away anytime soon.

So, what does this say for franchise blunders, such as xXx and MIIB, that only focus on the opening weekend and then fizzle away a month later? Sure, they sell popcorn and blow stuff up. But where are they now?

Spider-Man was a huge hit, but it’ll be on video next week. People want to see it, but will they keep coming back?

Fat Greek is a fairy tale – literally and figuratively. It’s the type of flick that transcends age groups and simply entertains – and does so at a slightly more sophisticated level than the explosion-laden “sure-fire” hits.

It’s the type of film that Hollywood should start green-lighting more often, and one that shouldn’t take a half-Greek actress’ trip to a small theater in midtown Manhattan to discover.

But hey, that’s just, like, my opinion, man.

Contact Will Albritton at oraclewill @