Is Romantic Comedies a Theater-Worthy? Creatives Hear Mixed Messaging From Studios

Is Romantic Comedies a Theater-Worthy? Creatives Hear Mixed Messaging From Studios ...

After disappointing box office results, the romantic comedy genre was mostly abandoned in theaters in favor of superhero extravaganzas and IP-driven fare. Then's data-focused team found that its subscribers were seeing older rom-coms, and the streaming company began greenlining its own supply to keep up with apparent viewership demand. These include: Set It Up, To All the Boys I've Loved Before, and Always Be My Maybe, while fueling the notion that streaming "saved" the genre.

Is it still streaming where the genre must be maintained? That's the next debate in the rom-com genre. For some reason, it's become an especially important question in the rom-com genre: How do you make a romantic comedy theatrical? says producer Juliet Berman, who has worked on both rom-coms that went to theaters (That Awkward Moment) and streaming (Set It Up).

Historically, an appeal of the rom-com genre is that it is a lower-budget affair, as its main expense may be hiring A-list talent. It's also a genre that lends itself well to less-established film actors as leads. "Overall, the studio system requires a lot of money to invest in the program," said director Judd Apatow, who founded the series when Knocked Up and Trainwreck in 1999. "It's therefore important to all studios

The changing demographics of the box office recovery have impacted in 2019. The gender distribution among theatergoers to the top-grossing films of the year was relatively evenly split, with 49 percent female to 51 percent male. However, the percentage of female moviegoers seeing top movies in theaters slowed in the epidemic in 2021, according to the MPA's annual report.

It's true for probably almost everybody that we love a great romantic comedy, says Erik Baiers, a senior executive vp development at Universal, who split the difference by debuting the Jennifer Lopez-Owen Wilson rom-com Marry Me in theaters for Valentine's Day, which has since raised $49 million worldwide, and debuting the title simultaneously on Peacock. It's definitely a cart versus the horse type of debate that we have here, which is, Do people

Kat Coiro, who plays Marry Me in the film, states it more bluntly: "Do I wish we had a better week than we expected? Because it's a communal film."

There are a few big theatrical bets in the pipeline, including Universal's Billy Eichner, who will be available in September and Ticket to Paradise, according to Stoller. Given his prominence as the first LGBTQ drama from a major studio, the film's director says: "It's a historical dimension to this film, and the idea of it being theatrical." Stoller adds that "i think studios will need a few adaptations to work. "It's no longer

Jason Kilar, the former WarnerMedia CEO who went through AT&T's merger with Discovery, told THR in an interview earlier this month that rom-coms are among the types of films that the company intends to finance and support with theatrical releases, even if they include a day-and-date model in several overseas markets. I suspect what you are going to see is that these films will not only be available on streaming, but they will also be available to exhibitors worldwide on a non-exclusive basis, Kilar

Certain theatrical films may be exceptions to the rule. Case in point: Hulu acquired Lionsgate's Lopez-fronted Shotgun Wedding, which had been planning a theatrical release in June; Reese Witherspoon's return to the genre, Your Place or Mine, is on the way to Netflix, and Nancy Meyers is making her untitled comeback film with Netflix after declaring in 2019 that the film industry, despite the disappearance of the mid-budget comedy, "has changed in

Ian Bricke, the creator of Netflix's independent film, claims that streamer hits help lift all boats in terms of getting projects off the ground. "There's a lot more material in the genre today than it was five years ago, because people weren't necessarily writing rom-coms on spec, or a lot of the scripts we would get were 15 years old," he adds. "For us and all other artists that have delved into the genre, there's a little bit of

Wendy Bricmont, who operates 324 commercial locations in the United States, says Netflix is "teasing" the project's crew that it might obtain a limited theatrical release, which ultimately never happened. (It's like, no, no one said that, but you're in the same position sometimes."

The increased emphasis on inclusivity in many creatives who spoke with THR has helped the genre develop.

Michael Urie, who starred in Single All the Way (2021) and Netflix's first LGBTQ Christmas rom-com, states that many straight performers continue to feature in many Christmas shows for Hallmark. I haven't been offered a Christmas movie before, and as far as mainstream rom-coms at studios, that hasn't happened either, according to Urie. I don't know if you just get one.I don't know if you just get one.

Kat Graham, star of three Netflix comedy series including Love in the Villa, agrees that change has been a slow move. "I do believe the industry has a way to go,," she says. "There are still not enough LGBTQI leads, Asian leads, Latinx leads, African American leads, and cetera. However, I do see progress; I am excited for more progress to come."

Bowen Yang, who plays in Lost City and also plays in Bros and Hulu's upcoming LGBTQ drama Fire Island, says he loves the genre, but that with so many of these films being available on Netflix, the film industry "relegated it to some area of the media landscape that it didn't quite deserve." He adds, "I was just so distraught in seeing The Lost City in a theater. "I was like, "I miss this kind of film, and I miss this experience."

The Hollywood Reporter Magazine published a version of this story in April 13.

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