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As the opening credits roll, there is a montage of Anne Hathaway as "Andy Sachs" dressing and preparing for her job interview, juxtaposed with scenes of several fashionable young women preparing for their respective jobs. In the end credits, there is a statement from the producers thanking a number of individuals and companies, including many prominent designers such as Badgley Mischka, Donna Karan Collections, Hermes of Paris, Inc., Prada, Valentino [Garavani] and Dennis Basso. Acknowledgments are also given to VAGA and others for permission to use several art works, including works by Maxfield Parrish and Adolph Gottlieb. Celebrity models Heidi Klum and Bridget Hall and designer Valentino briefly appear as themselves. Model Gisele Bndchen also appears in the film, as "Serena," a friend of "Emily." At the end of the film, when Meryl Streep as "Miranda Priestly" relates the back story of how she saved her position at the magazine, there is a brief montage to illustrate what she is saying.
The title of the film and Lauren Weisberger's novel on which it was based is a reference to the Italian designer Prada, one of the most exclusive, expensive design houses in the world. The Prada logo, with the company name inside an inverted triangle, is displayed prominently on a handbag worn by Streep when Miranda exits her limousine in her first appearance in the film.
Weisberger's novel, a roman clef about the world of a high fashion magazine, was on the New York Times bestseller list for over thirty weeks in 2003 and 2004 and returned to the paperback bestseller list after the release of the movie. According to news items, Fox 2000 paid $600,000 for the screen rights. As noted in reviews and news items for both the novel and the film, critics and readers alike saw the tyrannical Miranda as a thinly veiled version of longtime Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour, the British-born doyenne of fashion editors often mentioned in gossip columns such as The New York Post's "Page Six," frequently in the context of being an excessively demanding person. Despite the fact that Weisberger had been Wintour's assistant at Vogue for a time, the author has always maintained in interviews that Miranda was not based on Wintour, but was a fictionalized composite. In interviews, Streep has said that she did not base her portrayal on Wintour. The short white hairdo selected by Streep and J. Roy Helland differs greatly from Wintour's signature pageboy cut (once dark brown, but more recently medium brown with blond streaks), accentuated by the large dark glasses she characteristically wears, both indoors and out.
The film follows the basic storyline and premise of the novel, while some minor incidents involving demands made by Miranda or Andy's travails are similar to, but slightly different from the novel to the film. The novel's recurring joke about Miranda's constant need to have a fresh white Herms scarf is not carried over, although the scarves are mentioned at one point in the film. In the novel, Andy is from Connecticut rather than Ohio and is a recent graduate of Brown University, not Northwestern. Andy's boyfriend in the novel is named Alex, rather than "Nate." "Lily," Andy's best friend, who is featured more prominently in the novel, is an alcoholic doctoral student. In the novel, Lily's lapse into a coma after a severe automobile accident while Andy is in Paris is a precipitating factor in Andy's final break with Miranda.
Other significant differences between the novel and the film center on the characterization of Miranda, especially near the end of the film, and Andy's life after leaving Runway. In the novel, Miranda is English [like Wintour], and her husband, Mr. Tomlinson, nicknamed "B-DAD" [for being blind, deaf and dumb to Miranda's tyrannical nature] is a more prominent character. He is effusively kind and friendly with Andy and is blindly devoted to Miranda, as she is to him; they are not estranged.
There is little sympathy for Miranda in the book, while Streep's characterization in the film does evoke some audience sympathy. Unlike the film, in the novel, Andy quits her job when Miranda is on the verge of firing her for screaming profanities at her at a party in Paris. Following the news of Lily's grave condition, Andy realizes that Miranda's impossible demand to arrange to have her twin daughters fly to Paris the next day, even though their passports have expired, is no longer important. The cursing incident is reported in the popular "Page Six" gossip column in The New York Post, making Andy a minor celebrity. At the end of the novel, Andy sells her complementary designer wardrobe and luggage from Runway for $38,000 and is able to live comfortably on the profits, while freelancing for an editor who is the antithesis of Miranda. Andy's romantic relationship with her boyfriend has ended, but they remain friends. Additionally, Andy's trip to Paris is unavoidably necessitated by Emily contracting mononucleosis and not by Miranda's desire to have Andy take her place.
Both the film and the novel contain recurring scenes of Andy being sent to or returning from Starbucks with coffee for Miranda, who sometimes drinks them and other times does not, but always demands that four tall cups be at her disposal. Another carry-over from the novel to the film concerns Miranda's demand for a copy of the latest, as-yet unpublished "Harry Potter" book, which Andy manages to acquire. "Clackers," a term used throughout the book and the film, is a name given to the lean, fashionable women who wear very high heels to work, thus making "clacking" sounds on the hard floors of office buildings.
As noted in the onscreen credits and reviews, the film was shot on location in New York City, with the exception of the Parisian scenes, which were shot in Paris. According to Daily Variety news items, Peter Hedges was set to direct the picture before David Frankel was hired by producer Wendy Finerman. Frankel previously had directed several shorts and one feature film, Miami Rhapsody in 1995, and had directed six episodes of the popular HBO television series Sex in the City, which also was set in New York and featured extensive, high-fashion wardrobes for the main characters. The cinematographer on The Devil Wears Prada, Florian Ballhaus, had also worked on Sex and the City, as did costume designer Patricia Field. Frankel directed two episodes of another HBO ensemble series, Entourage, in which Adrian Grenier, who portrayed Nate in The Devil Wears Prada, was one of the featured players.
When the film was released, reviews and many feature articles discussed the fashions in the film. Some fashion writers expressed the feeling that the clothes in the film were too conservative and not truly representative of what real fashion editors, such as Wintour, would wear.
The Devil Wears Prada was the opening night film at the Los Angeles International Film Festival. After its release in the U.S. and Canada, the picture was shown out of competition at the Venice Film Festival as well as the Deauville and San Sebastian Film Festivals. Critics generally praised the film, typified by Peter Travers' review in Rolling Stone, which labeled it "a chick flick even guys can love." Streep and British actress Emily Blunt were also singled out for their roles. According to a July 27, 2006 Hollywood Reporter news item, the film's budget was a relatively modest $35,000,000. Contemporary sources note that the film grossed approximately $125,000,000 in North America and, as reported in a studio ad in Daily Variety on October 31, 2006, the picture had grossed $250,000,000 worldwide to that date.
In addition to being selected as one of AFI's Movies of the Year, The Devil Wears Prada received Academy Award nominations for Streep as Best Actress and Field for Achievement in Costume Design. The picture also received the following awards and nominations: Streep received the Golden Globe for Best Actress-Musical or Comedy, and the film received two additional Golden Globe nominations: for Best Picture-Musical or Comedy and for Blunt as Best Supporting Actress. Streep received a Best Actress nomination from the Screen Actors Guild, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BAFTA), as well as the Best Supporting Actress award from the National Society of Film Critics. Blunt received a BAFTA nomination in the category of Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and Aline Brosh McKenna received a Writers Guild of America nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
In October 2006, Fox TV Studios announced that it had acquired television rights to the novel and was developing it as a series for the Fox network, with Robin Schiff set to write and executive produce the series. According to a October 12, 2006 Daily Variety article, neither Frankel nor writer Weisberger were to be involved in the project.