Why The Third Bridget Jones Film Has Been Such A Long Time Coming

Helen Fielding, the original creator of Bridget Jones, was a guest on the Radio 4 show Woman’s Hour today, announcing that she’s at work on a new, third novel in that series, some thirteen years after the whole thing got going. Give it eighteen months, say, and this book will make up 5% of the mass on any given underground train in London. Think of the excess power that’s going to take.

This novel won’t share its story with the in-development third film, though Fielding did explain where that screenplay comes from – and why we haven’t seen it go into production yet.

The movie is a different, earlier story, not based on a novel. It started with some columns I wrote in the Independent about six years ago. But I think with a third instalment stakes are very high. We all go back a long way, we’re all really fond of each other and everyone really wants to get it right but that means there’s a lot of voices, a lot of writers and really getting Bridget right, I always think it’s like a little duck. In the end it needs to skim effortlessly along the surface but underneath the legs are going really, really fast. It’s complicated. And it’s quite hard to do that when there’s a lot of people designing the duck.

I like the other people very much and one never wants to be that nightmare author who’s going “You’re murdering my babies!” I think the problem is that it’s a very specific point of view and very specific voice and however much I stand back we still need that voice. It’s particularly hard without a novel.

Who are these multiple voices? One might assume that Renee Zellweger has her own ideas of where Bridget should go and perhaps Hugh Grant wants some input too. They’re not without power in the studio-sphere. My gut feeling, however, is that it won’t matter too much. I’m expecting that the film won’t happen this side of the novel, the book will be a smash and they’ll just end up adapting that instead.

Check back in around May 2014 to see if I’m right.

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