It's the world's first full-frontal fairy tale. Less than three months after Fox Searchlight's The Full Monty first exposed itself to American audiences, the humble British comedy is an honest-to-God box office phenomenon.
To date, Monty has grossed more than $80 million worldwide not bad considering it cost a paltry $3 million to make. And just two weeks ago, Monty stripped Four Weddings and a Funeral of its title as the most successful movie in British history. (According to Daily Variety, Monty accounted for approximately 40 percent of the U.K.'s box office receipts, dressing down the likes of Men in Black, Air Force One, and Austin Powers.) Even British prime minister Tony Blair has gotten into the act, delivering a ''cool Britannia'' speech punctuated with clips from the film. Stateside, where Monty has raked in $24.7 million, a Broadway show is in the works; Oscar rumors are rampant. ''What I can tell you,'' says Fox Searchlight's senior vice president of marketing David Dinerstein, ''is that we feel we have an opportunity to get the fifth Best Picture nomination this year.'' Let's just say that when nominations are announced in February, a Best Original Screenplay (probable) and a Best Picture nomination (plausible) are likely to exponentially goose the grosses.
But there's more going on here than a bunch of guys baring their souls and belly buttons. Monty mania is taking on Macarena-size proportions. Everyone, it seems, wants to get in on the act, from industry insiders to everyday Joes.
''I saw it three times,'' says Drew Carey, who invited the Monty cast to appear on a Nov. 12 episode of The Drew Carey Show that's inspired by the movie. ''It has such a working-guy mentality. It could've been set in Cleveland.'' Unfortunately, the Montys seemingly had forgotten to pack their work visas along with their G-strings the immigration department prohibited the actors from performing on the show. Still, the troupe made the rounds while in Los Angeles, visiting the sets of Friends and ER (where Eriq LaSalle surprised them by quoting lines from the pic).
Amateurs are getting into the act too. According to director Peter Cattaneo, some guys in London ''decided to put together their own Full Monty. It's slightly different though they stay naked throughout the evening.'' In New York City, an HMV record shop recently held an Almost-Full Monty contest that drew over 250 exhibitionists. And an Irish theater company based in the Bronx gave a benefit that featured a young actor-cum-stripper called Sean ''the Pelvis'' Power. ''These things are like cultural viruses,'' Cattaneo admits. ''Fortunately, this is one of the good ones.''
As you might expect, the uproar has wildly affected Monty's principal players, most notably Mark Addy. The sensitive second banana who mummifies himself with Saran Wrap may have shimmied his way into a development deal with ABC. One rumor has the tubby 33-year-old playing a man obsessed with ice cream. The Full Macadamia Nut? Don't bet on it. ''That's only one of many ideas we're looking at,'' says Addy.