In the glittering world of Hollywood, where sequels are often greenlit faster than you can say “blockbuster,” one film that never saw its anticipated continuation is The First Wives Club. The 1996 film that has been trending on Netflix UK.
Bette Midler, one of the film’s leading ladies, had revealed the behind-the-scenes drama that prevented the iconic trio of Midler, Goldie Hawn, and Diane Keaton from reprising their roles in a sequel despite being more than eager to step back into their hit roles.
In an interview with PEOPLE magazine, Midler lamented, “I used to lobby for First Wives Club too, but there were political reasons they didn’t want to do that again. And it always broke my heart.” She explained how the studio considered the film’s success a mere fluke, even though it opened big, “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.”
The First Wives Club, directed by Hugh Wilson and based on the 1992 novel by Olivia Goldsmith, defied expectations upon its release in 1996. Midler recalled being told just before the movie opened that it would not perform well, as it was pitted against action movies with male stars like Bruce Willis. Contrary to these presumptions, the film not only opened at number one but also out-grossed the male-dominated action competition.
Despite the cast’s enthusiasm for a sequel, Paramount, the studio behind the film, hesitated to invest in a sequel. Hawn had disclosed in 2009 to AARP The Magazine that low-ball salary offers were presented to the stars, “Diane called me and said, ‘We’ve got to do this.’ … 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.’”
Hawn highlighted the stark gender pay gap, “Now, if there were three men that came back to do a sequel, they would have paid them three times their salary at least.”
Although The First Wives Club 2 never materialised, the trio did sign on for a different project, Family Jewels, announced in 2020. The film centres around three women, once married to the same man, navigating the holidays together after his demise.
Speaking of this project, Midler had confessed to PEOPLE, “I think it’s funny. When women get together, they laugh harder with each other than they do with men,” she continued, “I don’t know what it is. I guess they feel freer or something like that. Family Jewels is something that people have been working on. Sometimes you get stuck in the scriptwriting process, and things don’t work out.”