It’ll be a fall family reunion for the “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” clan, with Focus Features dating the third film in the franchise for a worldwide theatrical release on Sept. 8, 2023.
Nia Vardalos wrote and directed the new film, starring alongside returning cast members John Corbett, Louis Mandylor, Elena Kampouris, Maria Vacratsis, Andrea Martin, Elias Kacavas, Gia Carides, Joey Fatone and Lainie Kazan. Elias Kacavas and Melina Kotselou join the family this time around.
Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson and Gary Goetzman — who’ve produced all three movies — also return, with Paul Brooks, Scott Niemeyer and Steven Shareshian serving as executive producers.
“The sweet friendship which bloomed from the producers’ first taking a chance on me then grew into a beautiful relationship as they entrusted me to direct this installment of our franchise,” Vardalos stated. “We filmed our family reunion entirely in Greece which was thrilling for us all. Plus, we ate for free.”
Wilson noted: “It’s thrilling to have Nia Vardalos, Academy Award-nominated writer, not only in front of the camera as our star, but also behind the camera as our director, guiding our beloved cast for this third film shot on location in Greece. ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ has brought audiences joy for twenty-one years. I’m so happy that more joy is on the way.”
The beloved franchise began more than 20 years ago with 2002’s “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” based on Vardalos’ one-woman play. Directed by Joel Zwick, Vardalos wrote and stars in the film, playing Fotoula “Toula” Portokalos, a young Greek-American woman who falls in love with a non-Greek man (John Corbett). Despite her family’s objections, Toula marries him, thus kicking off a hilarious struggle to get her family to accept him while she herself comes to terms with her heritage.
Distributed by IFC Films, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” was a sleeper hit, earning more than $368 million worldwide. The film holds the crown as the highest-grossing romantic comedy ever made. The movie was also a critical hit, with Vardalos earning an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay. The original film inspired the short-lived 2003 CBS TV series “My Big Fat Greek Life” and spawned the 2016 sequel “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.” Distributed by Universal Pictures, the movie made $90.6 million worldwide.
In June 2022, Vardalos announced via Instagram that filming on the third installment was underway in Athens, Greece and that she’d be directing the project, which marks her second feature, following 2009’s “I Hate Valentine’s Day.”
Vardalos also confirmed that the film would pay tribute to the late Michael Constantine, who played Toula’s father Gus. Constantine died in 2021 and was unable to begin filming on the newest installment.
“He had told me he wouldn’t be able to join us for the third film and his wish was that we go on. I wrote the screenplay to reflect Michael’s decision and will always treasure his last messages to me,” Vardalos wrote in a 2021 Instagram post.
Focus will release “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3” in the U.S. with Universal Pictures International handling international distribution.
The month of September has been particularly friendly to the studios in recent years, with Focus releasing “Downton Abbey” in September 2019 — which opened at No. 1, earning $31 million domestically and grew to an eventual $194.6 million worldwide by the end of its run — and Universal Picture International’s September 2022 release of “Ticket to Paradise” — which opened at No. 2, only behind DC’s “Black Adam,” and earned $168 million worldwide.