Sex and the wrong city

Emma Lee It’s the moment millions of women have been waiting for – and their other halves have been dreading. The hotly-anticipated Sex and the City film arrives on the big screen later this month and last night had its world premiere in London. EMMA LEE welcomes back the fabulous four – Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte.

Emma Lee

As Sex and the City's leading ladies sashayed down the red carpet at the long-awaited film's world premiere last night, something wasn't quite right.

The shoes, of course, were fabulous. But the city was wrong.

To many it seems odd that a film so rooted in New York - in fact, the Big Apple has often been referred to as the series' fifth character - should be given its first full public airing on the opposite side of the Atlantic.

And there's been plenty of critical conjecture as to why Leicester Square was preferable to Times Square.

One is that the film's a flop and it is being shown in Britain first because the critics here are traditionally less harsh than their American counterparts.

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But that argument doesn't wash. Sex and the City has so many fans - and devoted ones at that - that the opinion of a bunch of cynical hacks will be largely irrelevant when it comes to getting bums on seats.

According to Diane Negra, of the School of Film and TV Studies at the University of East Anglia, the British love affair with the show could be the very reason we're getting to see it two weeks ahead of its first screening in its home city.

Recently back from a working trip to the States, she says that the Sex and the City marketing "juggernaut", which includes the inevitable marketing tie-ins with everything from tights to cars, is much more in evidence on this side of the Atlantic.

"I think it's getting more publicity here. It stands out a lot more at least," she says. "I'm not saying that Sex and the City isn't popular in America, it is. But it's a very well-loved series here."

Regardless of who gets to see the film first, there's no denying that it is one of this year's most hotly anticipated movies.

Frank, funny and totally fabulous, the TV series followed four single girl friends as they navigated the New York dating minefield in their Manolos.

Barely ever venturing outside of glamorous Manhattan they had to kiss - well, sleep with, to be precise - six series' worth of frogs until they found their prince charmings.

It was groundbreaking for American TV, which back in the late 1990s, was generally quite conservative.

"At the time Sex and the City debuted, a lot of the debate centred around whether women talked about sexuality so frankly," says Prof Negra. "The show became less sexually frank and more romantic. At the start it was about four single women and at the end it was about four women in serious relationships.

"I had real reservations about how the Sex and the City series came to a close. I had a sense of dissatisfaction that it decided that a heterosexual romance is the only way of a woman finding a happy ending," she says.

The last time we saw the quartet - four years ago - Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) had finally tamed her Mr Big; Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Steve were married and had moved to Brooklyn; and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Harry were adopting a baby. Even bed-hopping Samantha (Kim Cattrall) had settled down.

But audiences were hungry to know what happened next. Did Carrie and Big finally tie the knot? Could Samantha really be satisfied with just one man? Would Charlotte ever get pregnant? And could Miranda and Steve live happily ever after?

Plenty has already been written about the film - the clothes, the shoes, the rumoured catfights between the leading ladies...

But, remarkably, until now, the plot has been kept largely under wraps. There have been teasing glimpses in the trailers and paparazzi snaps from the set during filming, such as Carrie in a wedding dress and Charlotte pictured with what looks like a baby bump.

And there has been plenty of buzz on the internet - claims that a major character meets their maker have been refuted by writer-director Michael Patrick King,

But, up until now, there haven't been any major spoilers.

Prof Negra says that from an academic point of view it will be exciting to see what direction this takes the chick flick genre in. "I think the film will be very interesting if, as the trailers suggest, it explores the post happy ever after," she says. "By the looks of it, it should be one of the more interesting films we see this year."

Sex and the City is in cinemas from May 28.