'The Best Man' Was Released 20 Years Ago and Exceeded Expectations

Today, October 22, marks the 20th anniversary of the release of The Best Man. The film was a hit with audiences and critics and did huge numbers at the box office. It was the debut film for the cousin of one of the greatest filmmakers in Hollywood and did so well that a sequel was released in 2013, 15 years after its initial debut.

The film told the story of college friends who reunited for a wedding and uncovered a damaging secret: the best man of the groom had an affair with the bride. Viewers loved the film and it was one of the last of its decade to feature an ensemble cast of African-American actors. The film exceeded many industry insiders’ expectations and became a classic.

‘The Best Man’ debuts at number one opening weekend

The Best Man premiered to audiences nationwide on October 22, 1999. The romantic-comedy-drama film was written and directed by Malcolm D. Lee, the cousin of Spike Lee. Spike served as a producer on the film. The film stars some of the top black actors and actresses in Hollywood, including Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Morriss Chestnut, Terrence Howard. It was the debut role for actress Regina Hall.

The Best Man received mostly positive reviews from critics and was considered a breakout film. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 72% positive rating based on reviews by 71 critics. ” It won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Motion Picture.

Lee made the film on a small budget of only nine million dollars. Not only was it the highest-grossing film opening weekend, but it also made nearly four times its budget by the end of its theatrical run, bringing in a little over $34 million.

‘The Best Man’ sequel, ‘The Best Man Holiday,’ was released in 2013

The follow up to The Best Man was long anticipated by fans. After years of speculation and trying to get the full original cast to participate, it was finally announced in October 2011 that the sequel was in production. The Best Man Holiday was released in November 2013. 

The film centered around the original crew getting together to celebrate the Christmas holiday after being somewhat estranged for 10 years. Harper (Taye Diggs) and Lance (Morris Chestnut) specifically, have not been on speaking terms since Lance’s wedding and the betrayal from Harper was revealed. Their relationship is tested further when the group discovers that the most beloved friend of the bunch is terminally ill and the two must put their differences aside. 

Just as the first, the film was a hit. Receiving positive reviews, it grossed over $71 million. It debuted at number two opening weekend, bringing in a little over $30 million after Thor: The Dark World. Audiences loved it, giving the film a rare A+ grade on Cinemascore according to The Hollywood Reporter. 

Is there a third ‘Best Man’ film in the works?

With the success of the first two installments of the film, fans begged for a finale. The conclusion of The Best Man Holiday was somewhat of a cliffhanger and viewers are interested to see what happens next with the group of friends. Initially, Lee revealed that it was a strong possibility for a third film but after going back and forth with studios about financing, he told BET in 2018 that progress was halted.

“At first it seemed the studio wanted to make a third and it would be the best one – the Malcolm Lee movie we’d expect. But they won’t pay. It’s been delayed indefinitely. I don’t feel at this point that I should have to struggle. I kind of paid my dues.”

Lee also admitted that he was unable to afford to pay the actors the salary they deserved for the sequel due to it being independently produced and that he refused to have to go the same route for the third installment. 

As of January 2019, Lee spoke with Screenrat and admitted that a new challenge was put in place after getting the financing necessary to produce a film of quality. Getting the entire cast together has stalled production. Hopefully, fans will get to see a finale sooner than later. 

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