Malcolm D. Lee‘s crowd-pleasing and big money-earning The Best Man franchise is bound for trilogy designation, as Universal has just announced that the third film in the series will arrive in 2016. Deadline reports that The Best Man Wedding — wait, is it the wedding of the best man? who is his best man? maybe they should have thought about these titles a bit more — will arrive on April 15, 2016, reuniting the sprawling cast to participate in (what else!) a big time wedding.
Lee is back on board to write and direct the feature, and the franchise’s many cast members — including Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Harold Perrineau and Melissa De Sousa — are all expected to come back for more. Monica Calhoun will probably, um, not be back. Now that the blockbuster series is moving into pretty firm franchise territory, is it time for you to get on board? Well, yes.
The Best Man Holiday hit theaters last year (after ten years between it and The Best Man), just in time for the holidays (naturally), bowing in mid-November and pulling in a very impressive $30m opening along the way. The film didn’t just make money, it also satisfied its viewers, as it earned an A+ CinemaScore across the board (CinemaScores are notoriously unreliable — the best way to really ace them appears to hinge on how much a film gives its audience what it wants and expects, but it sure seems like Holiday did that in spades). Within a week, news hit the wire that Universal was already working on a sequel with Lee (remember our ranking of most essential cast members? that baby still stands).
It’s no surprise that the next entry into the franchise will center on a wedding — The Best Man Holiday ended with a phone call from Howard’s Quentin, eagerly sharing the news with both Harper (Diggs) and Lance (Chestnut) that he was engaged to be married. It was a cliffhanger of an ending, as no one knows just who Q is marrying (despite him mixing it up with Shelby (De Sousa) in the last film, Quentin is a real ladies’ man, and the guy could be putting a ring on anyone and everyone). The drama! The outfits! The over-the-top humor!
The romantic comedy landscape is certainly lacking these days, but The Best Man films appear to be eager and able to fill a persistent gap. Similar to hits like Valentine’s Day and New Years’ Eve that stack on the talent to amp up recognizability and star power and then attempt to tie up supposedly interconnected storylines with weak plotting, The Best Man films are talent-rich but also remarkably plot-smart. By actually connecting characters through long-standing relationships, the franchise has built in both emotion and intelligence. These are characters audiences care about, and that level of emotion only deepens with each film. (If you walked out of The Best Man Holiday without a few tears, you may be a monster, and I say that as someone who was shocked by how moving the totally foreseeable plot ended up feeling.)
It also doesn’t hurt that Lee’s films attract truly solid talent — Terrence Howard doing insane comedy trumps Taylor Swift awkwardly hugging a large stuffed animal any day of the week — that sure seem to have fun with the material. If you want to make a romantic comedy (or, as is so often the case with this franchise, something closer to a romantic dramedy), this the way to do it: real connections, an all-star cast, and enough insane emotions to entertain everyone in the audience.
The Best Man Wedding will hit theaters on April 15, 2016.