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Put on your Manolo Blahniks: Carrie and pals return for Sex and the City 2

When the big-screen Sex and the City came out two years ago, industry powerbrokers seemed genuinely puzzled at how such a femme-centric movie based on an old cable TV series could have grossed $57 million its opening weekend. Of course, when dealing with the fairer sex — and what it thinks women want — Hollywood has traditionally gotten it wrong.

By underestimating the enduring appeal of the HBO series (which ran from 1998 to 2004), studio heads who passed on a Sex and the City movie appeared even more clueless than usual. And that brings out the sort of vulnerability that makes men — and studio heads — nervous and scared. Rather than embrace the film's success, they treated its $415 million worldwide haul like it was a freak accident without any larger significance.

Aside from the obvious "Where are they now?" questions about Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, Charlotte, et al. that the movie tantalizingly promised to answer, 2008's Sex and the City clicked because it provided the opportunity for an almost ritualistic bonding experience among the show's legion of female fans. Theaters reported that women were descending en masse for themed "Girls Night Out" parties. The Twilight movies would eventually strike a similar and equally underserved estrogen chord.

The fantasy allure of the series' "live large and sexy" mantra transcended all ages, races, and demographics. You don't have to be a (white) thirtysomething career woman to idolize and empathize with Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie Bradshaw and her coterie of gal pals.

Will the sequel opening this weekend duplicate the success of the original? The $95 million price tag is higher than last time, which certainly makes it a greater financial risk. Equally vexing is the decision to shoot a good chunk of the movie in Morocco (subbing for conspicuous consumerism world headquarters Abu Dhabi) rather than Manhattan. But considering the huge number of advance tickets already sold, Sex and the City 2 should have little trouble opening big.

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