The classic 1996 film starred Midler, Diane Keaton, and Goldie Hawn as a trio of jilted women who seek revenge on their respective former spouses. Midler’s “Hocus Pocus 2” co-star Sarah Jessica Parker played the mistress Midler’s husband (Dan Hedaya) was cheating with in the film.
Stockard Channing, Maggie Smith, Rob Reiner, Marcia Gay Harden, Victor Garberm Timothy Olyphant, J.K. Simmons, Jon Stewart, and Gloria Steinem also starred. Based on the 1992 novel by Olivia Goldsmith, the Hugh Wilson-directed comedy grossed $180 million at the global box office. It was nominated for an Oscar for Best Music.
Now, over 25 years later, Midler opened up about why the studio did not greenlight a sequel.
“I used to lobby for ‘First Wives Club 2,’ but there were political reasons they didn’t want to do that again. And it always broke my heart,” Midler told People. “I really felt that it was a pretty serious diss, because when women have hits, it’s a fluke. But when men have hits, isn’t it great? At least that’s what they told us on ‘First Wives.'”
Co-star Hawn previously told AARP Magazine in 2009 that Paramount Pictures was going to pay Keaton, Hawn, and Midler the same salary as the first movie for a sequel, despite the film’s success.
“Diane [Keaton] called me and said, ‘We’ve got to do this,'” Hawn said at the time of the follow-up. “I got a call from the head of the studio, who said, ‘Let’s try to make it work. But I think we should all do it for the same amount of money.’ Now, if there were three men that came back to do a sequel, they would have paid them three times their salary at least.”
Hawn, Midler, and Keaton were attached to the film “Family Jewels” in 2020 (via Variety) to mark a “First Wives Club” reunion of sorts about three women who were all at one time married to the same man but become friends after his passing.
Meanwhile, “The First Wives Club” TV show has been airing on BET+ with Michelle Buteau, Jill Scott, and Ryan Michelle Bathe starring as the core trio. The series premiered in 2019 and has been renewed for a third season.