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‘Rough Night’s’ Lucia Aniello Felt Pressure as a Female Director Not to ‘Mess It Up for the Next Woman’

Monday night’s premiere of “Rough Night” had plenty of the usual suspects and big celebrity names. But there were a few details separating this red carpet from the others, like the black party buses, bride-to-be sashes, feather boas, headbands adorned with glittery pink male genitalia, and thumping dance music.

It was an appropriate setting for the premiere of a movie about a bachelorette weekend gone awry and a big night for director Lucia Aniello.

Much buzz has surrounded Sony’s big summer blockbuster, starring Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer, and Zoe Kravitz. It has been billed as the first hardcore R-rated studio comedy directed by a woman in nearly two decades, after 1998’s “Half Baked,” which was helmed by Tamra Davis. (Nancy Meyers’ “It’s Complicated” received an R rating in 2009, but it doesn’t supply much raunch — only a scene with Meryl Streep and Steve Martin smoking marijuana.)

Rough Night” marks Aniello’s feature film directorial debut. She co-authored the script with her creative partner and boyfriend, Paul W. Downs. Aniello, who is a director and writer for Comedy Central’s “Broad City,” said she certainly felt the pressure.

“It makes me feel like I have to make sure that this movie is really good so I don’t mess it up for the next woman to come along,” Aniello said at the New York premiere. “We were pleasantly surprised that there were a lot of people who wanted [the film], and when it came down to it, we wanted to go with the studio that was going to actually make the movie. Sony’s first offer was so aggressive we knew that they meant business.”

The movie focuses on a group of five college friends reunited for a bachelorette weekend in Miami. The celebrations take a dark turn when the women accidentally kill a stripper.

“When I read this script, it was so streamlined and really a perfect read, and that’s a rare thing. That and it was really, really funny, and I just knew I had to meet these crazy people,” said Johansson, who plays the lead — bride Jess — in the film.

Demi Moore, who makes a guest appearance in the movie with “Modern Family” funnyman Ty Burrell, said that she was impressed with the cast and Aniello. “Lucia is so extremely talented and creative. Tonight’s the icing on the cake — the fact that it turned out so great,” she said.

The buzz around Aniello’s big-screen debut comes during a summer when women in the industry are getting a lot of attention. Director Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman” has earned big dollars and critical praise, and Sofia Coppola just became the second female filmmaker to win the Cannes Film Festival’s best director prize. Producer Matthew Tolmach said the studio was confident in its female ensemble and Aniello’s deft directorial hand.

“Lucia just knows how to get into her characters. This is a movie about five people who are so completely different, but they all feel authentic and real,” he said. “It seems insane that we’re having this conversation, but it’s fantastic [for us], too. Women should be directing all the time, so if this movie shows that and inspires people then great — it should.”

Lucia Aniello poses with her creative partner and boyfriend, Paul W. Downs, who co-wrote the script for “Rough Night.” Stephen Lovekin/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

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