“It's over. The franchise is dead. The press killed it. Your magazine f------ killed it. New York Magazine. It's like all the critics got together and said, 'this franchise must die.' Because they all had the exact same review. It's like they didn't see the movie."
That was Chris Noth discussing the apparent demise of the Sex and the City franchise in an interview with New York Magazine. If the franchise is truly finished, it is surely not the fault of magazines and critics. Not that critics are blameless, as they pounced on the film with a vicious campaign of vitriol that likely would have been tempered for a more male-driven franchise (how much worse could it have been than Iron Man 2?). It is also not the fault of the second film itself. Yes, it was allegedly terrible, and many fans were turned off just as much as the critics, but it still passed the primary test for a franchise picture: it made lots of money. If the series is no more, then it is purely the fault of Warner Bros. By that I mean, they have prematurely snuffed out a genuinely-profitable franchise.
Sex and the City 2 cost $100 million. It grossed $288 million worldwide. That, ladies and gentleman, is profit. Lots of profit. It will make more money than Angelina Jolie's Salt (cost: $110 million, worldwide gross: $284 million), which itself is having a sequel readied as we speak. It will make more money than G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, which will get a sequel after grossing $302 million on a $175 million budget. And if The Last Airbender gets a sequel (a 50/50 proposition), it too will earn that from a $300 million worldwide gross off a $150 million budget. And both Star Trek and X-Men Origins: Wolverine will get sequels after each grossing around $380 million worldwide on $150 million+ budgets. Granted, Star Trek 2 is expected to break out in a The Dark Knight/Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest fashion, but does anyone think that a Wolverine Takes Japan will outgross or even equal the $373 million-take of the much-loathed original?
Yes, the original Sex and the City grossed $415 million on a $65 million budget, so the second film was less profitable than the first. But there's a pretty simple solution to this: keep the bring the budget back down to earth for the third picture. A Sex and the City 3 which costs $75 million would be profitable even at a worldwide gross of $225 million, which is a reasonable expectation for a theoretical third picture. Here's another free tip: don't open your female-driven R-rated comedy over Memorial Day weekend, since the family-driven holiday will leave little time for the wives and mothers in your audience to plan a 'girls' night out'. Point being, if Sex and the City is a dead series, it is not the fault of the critics, or even the second film's alleged downturn in quality, but simply the fault of a studio that doesn't recognize easy money when it sees it.