NEW YORK (Reuters) - Do Carrie and Mr. Big marry or don't they? That is the question "Sex and the City" fans hope is answered when the long-awaited film about love and friendship in New York City hits theaters worldwide this week.
Writer Carrie's relationship with a financier known as Big, the love lives, and fashion choices, of her friends -- publicist Samantha, curator Charlotte and lawyer Miranda -- enthralled millions of television viewers during six seasons.
And now four years after the series ended they are back with fans desperate to know the fate of Carrie and Mr. Big.
"Those people who like the show will expect the joy and the good times and the whimsy and the clothes and the cocktails and the salty language," said actress Sarah Jessica Parker, who plays Carrie and also produced the movie and TV series.
"But what they might not expect is that the shank of the movie is pretty sad," she said.
Based on Candace Bushnell's autobiographical columns in The New York Observer newspaper, the TV series won eight Golden Globes and seven Emmys and made Manolo Blahnik shoes and the Cosmopolitan cocktail household names.
The movie picks up where the series ended -- Carrie and Big are together, Samantha is in Los Angeles with her boy toy, Charlotte and her husband are raising their adopted Chinese daughter and Miranda is in Brooklyn with her husband and son.
"I always knew the big story left untold was literally the 'Big' story -- would Carrie and Big get married? What would that be if they did or what wouldn't it be?" said Michael Patrick King, writer and director of the film.
King said the script focuses on the difference between 35 and 40 and the things you let go of as you evolve.
But fans should not be worried -- there is still a passion for fashion with the return of stylist Patricia Field, whose work on "Sex and the City" helped have it dubbed "the biggest thing in fashion since the invention of pants" by Elle magazine.
"They spawned an unstoppable machine of economic, cultural, and social trends that still very much matter today," the magazine said. "From nameplate necklaces to exposed bra straps, SATC (Sex and the City) had a hand in creating some of the biggest fashion statements of the past 10 years."
Parker said that she has archived all of her character's clothes "that were not borrowed," which proved useful when restocking Carrie's apartment closet for the film.
But despite the success of the TV series, Parker said it was still a struggle to get the movie made.
"To make a movie about four women over 40 is really not the way Hollywood likes to spend their money," she said, adding that the studio was swayed by the devotion of the show's fans.
But there was also the problem of signing up all the stars, especially Kim Cattrall, who plays Samantha and was initially unwilling to make a film -- but not because of a supposed rift with Parker, which both women laughed off.
"What a difference four years makes," said Cattrall, who blamed exhaustion, a divorce, the end of the series, and her father's diagnosis with dementia for her initial reluctance.
Kristin Davis, who plays Charlotte, and Cynthia Nixon, who plays Miranda, both said the movie was a dream come true. "We thought we were dead and we were resurrected," Nixon said.
And while early reviews of the film have been mixed, critics expect it to still be a hit. "One thing's for sure: fans of the series will lap this film up," wrote Celia Walden in Britain's Daily Telegraph.
And if it's a hit, there may be a sequel.
"I don't think anyone could turn down more sex coming around the corner if it was good," King said.
The studio behind the film is New Line Cinema, owned by TimeWarner Inc.