Why movie studios no longer make romantic comedies – Business … – Business Insider



(L-R)
“Hitch,” “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” and “Pretty
Woman.”
Anaele Pelisson, Business
Insider/Sony/Paramount/Disney

Romantic comedies have been a staple in the Hollywood machine for
as long as movies have been around. But the 1980s and 1990s was
the genre’s golden era, as the likes of Rob Reiner (“When Harry
Met Sally…”), Garry Marshall (“Overboard,” “Pretty Woman”), and
Nora Ephron (“Sleepless in Seattle,” “You’ve Got Mail”) elevated
the movies into emotional tear-jerkers that were perfect for date
nights.

For those decades, the titles were solid box office moneymakers
for the studios, and went on to become cash cows on DVD and cable
(where many still play to this day).

And though the early 2000s saw new classics come into the fold
like “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” and “Hitch,” around 2010
romantic comedies at the studio level drastically slowed down. In
recent years, they’ve all but stopped. Since 2010, rom-coms went
from nine major studio wide releases (a high water mark for the
genre in the 2000s) to zero released at the studio level in 2017.

The last rom-com to earn over $100 million
domestically
at the box office was 2015’s “Trainwreck.” 

What happened?

A big factor is the studios realized that comic book movies
were where the money was (especially overseas, where
rom-coms rarely ever make coin). The major studios only had three
wide releases of comic book adaptations in 2010. Since then,
there’s been a steady stream of six, sometimes eight (in 2014)
comic book movies released by the studios yearly. By the end of
2017, five will have hit the multiplex.

Anaele Pelisson box office graphic rom comAnaela Pelisson, Business
Insider

But all the blame can’t be pointed at Iron Man and Wonder Woman.
The studios also lost touch with how young people today connect
romantically.

“Less people are getting married, or getting married young now
than they were years ago, and the whole dating culture with the
apps and online, there’s a subtle sea change in what that
audience is looking at in terms of romantic comedy
entertainment,” Billy Mernit, author of “Writing the Romantic
Comedy
” and story analyst at Universal, told Business
Insider. “So you have the studios still making the same formulaic
romantic comedy where it’s a courtship story that leads to
marriage, and it usually revolves around a young professional
woman who gets a leg up by getting involved with an alpha male.
The target audience, the twentysomethings and above, just no
longer related to that kind of a movie and yet the studios seemed
to be tone deaf to that change.”

But romantic comedies haven’t gone away completely. They’ve been
modernized at the independent film level and have found success
there.

Over the years movies like 2014’s “Obvious Child” and 2015’s
“Sleeping with Other People” have proven that rom-coms can delve
into some dramatic waters while still cracking jokes about the
dating scene.

The Big Sick Amazon Lionsgate“The Big Sick.”Amazon/Lionsgate

One of the most talked about movies of 2017 is Judd
Apatow-produced “The Big Sick.” Though it’s a romantic comedy,
what stands out is its unique multicultural love story between a
Pakistani man (Kumail Nanjiani) and white woman (Zoe Kazan). And
it manages to find laughs even though it revolves around the guy
caring for the girl who is in a coma.

The buzz about the movie going into this year’s Sundance led to
Amazon buying it for $12 million. Lionsgate is doing the
theatrical release, and the movie has grossed over $35 million worldwide
to date (it was made for $5 million). 

“There is slowly a shift in perception on what a romantic comedy
is,” Mernit said. “The smart romantic comedy writer of 2017 is
writing a script that they aren’t calling a romantic comedy. They
have to have a fresh angle.”

Or perhaps the smart rom-com writer is headed to TV. As movies
find success now with raunchy R-rated comedies like “Bad Moms”
and “Girls Trip,” Mernit pointed out TV is where you can find the
rom-coms, whether its “The Mindy Project” or “Catastrophe.”

“The Catch 22 of the industry right now is the fact that
tentpoles supersede all other types of filmmaking,” Jeff Bock,
senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations, told Business
Insider. “Truth is, the romantic comedy genre doesn’t seem to
have too many maestros as it once did. The Nora Ephrons of the
world have faded to black, and love and laughs seem to have gone
the way of the sitcom, and into streaming content.”

So even though occasionally we may see someone like Amy Schumer
convince a studio to release a movie starring her in search for
love, the rom-com of yesteryear is pretty much extinct.

“The golden era of a romantic comedy coming out every week, we’re
done with that,” Mernit said. “But the romantic comedy genre will
never die because whether it’s lesbian lovers, a threesome, or a
girlfriend in a coma, we are still interested in seeing those
stories. I don’t think that’s ever going to go away.”

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