Expectations are high for this weekend's most buzzed-about new film, 'Bridesmaids.' A modestly-budgeted, bawdy laugher featuring no major movie stars, 'Bridesmaids' has found itself in an unexpected position: For many, its success or failure will determine the future of female-driven comedy on the big screen. And that's no laughing matter.

It's no secret that it is far more difficult to get a female-fronted film, particularly a comedy, made in Hollywood. Women accounted for only 16 percent of the key jobs -- director, producer and writer among them -- on the top 250 films of 2010; only 7 percent of those films were directed by a woman. It's also not a stretch to say that the support of producer Judd Apatow ('Knocked Up,' 'The 40 Year Old Virgin') was instrumental in getting 'Bridesmaids,' with its definitely un-ladylike humor, made in the first place.

Female-oriented website Jezebel perhaps best quantifies the challenge faced by 'Bridesmaids' and other female-fronted comedies, saying, "One of the things that sucks about being few or first: You get heightened scrutiny both from the people rooting for you and the people whose inertia or outside motivations mean rooting for you to fail."

With many studios reportedly waiting to see how 'Bridesmaids' performs at the box office before giving the go-ahead to other lady-centric comedies, the scrutiny from both sides could not be more intense.