The Grim Reaper was destined to have a role in Sex and the City 3 one way or another, but the original plan wasn’t the death of the franchise itself. Rather, producers had decided that after 94 episodes and two feature films, there was really only one more place to take the story: the death of Mr. Big. Yes, according to the latest installment of James Andrew Miller’s Origins podcast, multiple sources confirmed that Chris Noth’s Mr. Big (or John James Preston, as no one actually ever calls him) was slated to bite the dust early on in the film, likely from a heart attack in the shower. The film would have tracked Carrie’s grieving period. The plan was to give the series a proper ending more in line with the quality of the television series rather than the product-placement bonanzas that were the movies.
Noth himself was on board with the idea of sacrificing his character in the name of art. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he admitted on the podcast that while he appreciated the series, he hated the “corny stuff” in the movies. (“Like, the whole thing at the end of the movie, in the shoe closet, hated it.”) But Noth heard that the script for the third movie (and, yes, there was one written and ready to go) was “superior.”
There was, however, one member of the classic SATC troupe who wasn’t pleased with the creative direction, and if you’ve been following the saga thus far, you can probably guess that it was Kim Cattrall.
“People close to Kim believe that the script didn’t have a lot to offer the character of Samantha,” Miller says. “They point to the fact that it calls for Mr. Big to die of a heart attack in the shower relatively early on in the film, making the remainder of the movie more about how Carrie recovers from Big’s death than about the relationship between the four women.”
Cattrall always brought surprising depths to Samantha Jones, but even so, you’d have to admit it would be hard to work the character’s trademark quips and proclivities into a movie that ultimately dealt with the death of a spouse. “Honey, I always say the best way to get over someone who is six feet under is to get under…” is actually a line that should not be completed, come to think of it.
In addition to the longstanding tension with Sarah Jessica Parker, Cattrall wasn’t on board with the payday, either. Reportedly, the four main women would have received $1 million apiece up front, and then they’d all split backend profits with the showrunner Michael Patrick King. According to Miller, however, Cattrall found those backend divisions “unequal and unfair.”
Parker, however, attempted to get her castmate on board.
“I had many, many, many conversations with her manager where I was told, ‘She’d love to hear from you,’” says Parker on the podcast. “I e-mailed her, I tried to reach out to her and say, like, ‘We want you part of this. You’re an integral part, of course you are. I hope when you read this script you’ll see the beauty, the joy, the heartbreak in it that I see, that we have seen.’ But I can’t force her to see it, but we did negotiate through the process, and ultimately the studio said, ‘We can’t meet those asks of hers. We’re not able to do it…the economics don’t make sense for us.’ So then it’s over, but that’s not a character assassination, that’s just the way business works.”
Others involved in the series also add that their sense was that, creatively, Cattrall just had no desire to go back to the character again.
It’s all bittersweet. The movie was slated to begin production back in October 2017, and there’s an alternate universe where instead of giving interviews about how the movie died, they’d all be giving interviews to promote its premiere right about now.
It appears that, for now, the second movie will have to be the girl’s last hurrah, but while Hollywood is fine with killing a character like Mr. Big every now and again, it never likes to see a popular franchise die. Hey, if they ever want to reboot it, we have some ideas.