You may not have realized it, but the comedy Bad Moms was one of the biggest hits of the summer movie season. The film starred Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn as a trio of moms who have had enough with “playing nice” and shouldering all the responsibility, and who decide to let loose. Against a budget of $20 million, the film has grossed a stellar $170.8 million worldwide, scoring a pretty serious profit for STX Entertainment.
One might assume that such a successful film would spawn a sequel in short order, but STX is going a different route. The studio announced today that it is instead moving forward with its “first film offshoot” of the brand called Bad Dads, with the spin-off set for release on July 14, 2017. Additional details are said to follow shortly, but STX singled out the traditional route of greenlighting more expensive sequels while tooting its own horn of focusing on “extending the brand” instead.
How, exactly, does one extend the “brand” of Bad Moms? Per the press release, STX “has chosen to focus on extending consumer passion for the Bad Moms brand with a series of film spin-offs, a reality television show, short form digital content, and a robust consumer products program.”
Notice how the word “creative” doesn’t pop up once in this statement, and how audiences are described as “consumers.” This is quite plainly a cash grab. Not to say other studio sequels aren’t, but they usually operate under the pretense of “furthering the story” or “expanding the characters” instead of just flat-out saying they’re extending a brand. Moreover, with this fast-tracked release date, one has to wonder how creatively satisfying a rushed spin-off will be—Bad Moms was in development for years before it finally got off the ground, with Leslie Mann and Judd Apatow at one point attached to star and produce, respectively.
There’s also the inherent issue with a Bad Dads movie. The entire point of Bad Moms was to highlight how women are maligned in their roles as caregivers while the husbands are more free to be screw-ups, which resulted in a hit film with a hefty female audience. A movie about fathers doing bad things is as traditional a film as you can get—nearly every male-centric studio comedy revolves around men getting into whacky misadventures full of alcohol, drugs, and sex. Indeed, Bad Moms marked the second directorial effort of The Hangover scribes Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who spawned an entire trilogy of films about men behaving badly. In going a “non-traditional” route, STX is making the most traditional studio comedy one could possibly make.
So yeah, STX Entertainment enjoyed a massive box office hit with Bad Moms, and in trumpeting their “unique” approach to extending the brand, is missing the point of what made Bad Moms so successful in the first place. They’re so bullish on the prospect of Bad Dads that they’ve set it up against War for the Planet of the Apes on that July 14th release date.
The press release says to expect more news about the Bad-centric reality show, digital content, and other spin-offs shortly, but given how misguided the thinking behind this Bad Dads movie is, we’ll see which of these actually come to fruition.