First Wives Club: The Movie Sensation That Became a Phenomenon

Diane Keaton. Goldie Hawn. Bette Midler. A trio of superstar actresses and performers on their own right who are now grouped together in the minds of millions for their moving, gut-busting, inspiring performances in the 1996 blockbuster smash First Wives Club. These three brought us a tale of betrayal, revenge, and friendship, while never losing sight of raucous good times. It’s a comedy that will be remembered as long as people are watching movies.

Breaking an old Hollywood mold

Roles for older actresses used to be limited. Most were washed up by the time they hit 40, unless they wanted to play grandmothers or old shrills and nags. First Wives Club changed all that. Here you had three older actresses, who people mostly remembered from the 70s and 80s, playing women their age, women who had good times and bad, and who were ill-treated by callous husbands and a youth-oriented world when they had the temerity to get older. They chose instead to get revenge.

It was exhilarating. The careers of Midler, Keaton, and Hawn mirrored the iconic characters they played onscreen. Suddenly there were roles for actresses who, by Hollywood standards, were “old”. They weren’t washed up. They weren’t dried-up old biddies. They were vivacious, powerful, and not afraid to fight back.. Women could be more than just young and brainless or old and loveless. It was the message of the movie, and the message the movie sent to Hollywood. Women having a say in how their lives went after 40- who knew?

A Worldwide Sensation

But maybe nothing would have changed if audiences didn’t respond so enthusiastically to it. But it was clear the world was ready for this, and excited by it, and it took the world by storm. Opening on September 20th, 1996, it’s $18 million dollar opening-weekend box office made it America’s #1 movie, almost recouping in one weekend its entire budget. This was amazing for a movie about middle-aged women. “Smart” observers assumed it would flop.

But it didn’t stop there. Word-of-mouth spread, and this inspirational comedy kept rolling, ultimately grossing an amazing $180 million, almost unheard of for a comedy. This wasn’t surprising, as its message of friendship and togetherness resonated with people everywhere. And its why people are still talking about the movie today. Who can ever forget the thrilling, beautiful end where Hollywood legends Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler, and Diane Keaton belt out a joyful rendition of “You Don’t Own Me.”

Taking it to the Stage

This movie touched the lives of millions, and continues to do so. We’re thrilled to bring it to the stage, with all the heart and laughter, and original music from Motown legends Holland-Dozier-Holland. We hope you’ll join us to see the big screen come to life!