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‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’: The Franchise Throughout The Years

Even if you aren’t a fan of rom-coms, surely you’ve seen the original My Big Fat Greek Wedding by now.

(If not, please watch the trailer below.)

My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)

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Believe it or not, it’s the highest grossing romantic-comedy of all time. It’s made more money than Pretty Woman, There’s Something About Mary, Sex and The City, and Crazy Rich Asians.

There are many secret ingredients to its success. We cannot dent that the whole vibe is just so … heartfelt. The Portokalos family is loud and loving, chatty and cheerful. Look at all that food! Wouldn’t it be fun to have a cousin like Joey Fatone? It kind of makes you wish you were Greek (if you weren’t already).

Perhaps it’s the relatability of Toula (Nia Vardalos) or the sky-high precious factor of her relationship with the shaggy-haired English teacher, Ian (John Corbett). I mean, who wouldn’t want to take him out for a makeover then make out in a car?

My Big Fat Greek Life (2003, CBS)

Was it too soon? Perhaps.

We would be remiss not to mention the very short-lived sitcom that Vardalos wrote and starred in. While John Corbett was absent, the series did feature many of the same actors in the same roles – Lainie Kazan as Maria, Michael Constantine as Gus, Gia Carides as the sassy, busty Cousin Nikki, and Andrea Martin as Aunt Voula.

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My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (2016)

Unfortunately, MBFGW 2 did not fare as well at the box office as the original.

To summarize, the film is set around 2015 or 2016, and Toula and Ian are parents to a high school senior named Paris (Elena Kampouris). They still live next door to Toula’s parents, Maria and Gus. There are a couple of subplots. The first: Paris is an awkward teenager in heavy eyeliner and black chokers and she’s generally embarrassed about her over-the-top Greek family. The second: Gus insists he is a direct descendent of Alexander The Great. As he gathers evidence to prove his claim, he finds that his marriage certificate to Maria was never signed by the priest, thereby making the marriage unofficial.

Needless to say, it’s a little over-the-top. All of the gags from before are back in full effect:  the Windex remedy, the eccentric yiayia, the spanakopita bribes. There’s not much character development either, except that Paris decides to leave Chicago and branch out from her overbearing family. Toula still remains the family fixer, Gus gets drunk on ouzo before the wedding, and Ian is still just along for the ride.

Vardalos took screenplay writing credits again for MBFGW 2, and Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson were co-producers. There were even cameos by Rob Riggle and John Stamos. However, even though the entire cast showed up again 14 years later, it just didn’t stand up to critics’ expectations.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 (2023)

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This time around, MBFGW 3 was filmed in Athens and on different Greek islands. In an interview earlier this month with Town and Country Magazine, Nia Vardalos said, “I wanted the grays of Chicago to melt into pastels and reds, as if the characters were shedding layers—and their troubles.”

Vardalos, who wrote and directed again, went for full authenticity — costumes, jewelry and even original music. “You hear only Greek songs. We licensed classic and modern pieces, and even something from an unsigned duo.”

Blue And White Everything

The original cast is back again except for Michael Constantine who passed away in late August 2021 before filming began. This does play into the plot – the family, led by Toula, of course, is setting off to the old country to fulfill one of Father Gus’ dying wishes – to reconnect with their roots and have a family reunion.

Pretty crazy to think that all of this was spawned by a one-woman show, right?

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 will be released by Focus Features on September 8.

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