Talk to anyone in Hollywood and they will tell you that the romantic comedy is dead. Harry and Sally — doomed. Edward and Vivian — kaput. Joe and Kathleen — done. "The only ones that have a chance are ones with a very fresh take," a producer told the Hollywood Reporter.
When movie higher-ups talk about death, it has to do with money. And THR points to a bevy of "girl meets cute boy" films that have stunk up the box office like The Five-Year Engagement, The Big Wedding and What to Expect When You're Expecting. Those three movies all ended up costing more money than they took in (domestically) — a disappointment for the people who created them, but a disaster for the producers and studios who poured all that money into them. That kind of disappointment, makes people with money hesitant to pour even more money into a similar projects and it all trickles down to less rom-com movies being made and the beginning of the end of a genre.
That explains the supply. But the root of the rom-com's death is also in the demand. Why aren't people going to these movies? And further: What can screenwriters, producers and directors do to change that?
"Audiences aren't tired of romance; they're tiring of formulas," director Michael Sucsy (The Vow) told THR. "There is still a demand, and there always will be, for fresh and innovative stories that are smart and nuanced," he added. Proof of this demand are hits like Bridesmaids and Silver Linings Playbook, which THR describes as a "postmodern coupling", which more or less sounds like the "fresh take" producers wants.
And that's where OkCupid comes in. And Tinder. And Grindr. And social media. Part of the reason that everyone wants fresh takes is, yes, they're tired of formulas. But also, these formulas are becoming increasingly obsolete. Local book stores are dwindling, meaning you can't conveniently run into someone there. Mega book stores are dying too, so falling in love with someone who's going to buy you out is probably out of the question. Prostitutes aren't found on streets anymore, they're on Craigslist which fully negates that love-at-first-sight scene from Pretty Woman.
People just don't have chance meetings with each other these days. Romantic comedies should reflect that too. In fact, the way people, including prostitutes, meet each other these days has completely changed.
Where's the story about the 27-year-old guy, Joshua, on Scruff who hooks up with someone and the awkwardness from the realization that the two have mutual friends on Facebook? Of course, Josh and his new pal eventually fall in love in that hopeless place, but each have different stories to tell all these mutual friends how they met. Brunch? A bar? They get to make their own love story, but can't invite anyone to the wedding because of all of these conflicting stories.
Or the 32-year-old ad exec, Nina, who found love with a 32 percent OkCupid match? Think about it: Nina, unsatisfied with her matches answered all her questions like the woman she wishes she were, and ends up on a dream date, but is left constantly wondering how she answered that pesky "Which is more offensive: book burning or flag burning?" question.
Maybe a story about a public breakup between two 35-year-old bloggers at an Italian restaurant. Both have different views on how the break up went down. These views make it onto their social media streams, to the amusement of their friends, but neither one is a true account. The twist? There are Instagrams and Vines from everyone in the restaurant (which is one way to tell the story). Anyways, the couple eventually falls in love but can't say anything because of that embarrassing social media trail.
Yes, yes, there are pretty silly ideas, but they're at least relevant to the silly ways people find love nowadays — much more so than romances found on street corners, bookstores, and Seattle. Wait, did you hear about this lady and her 300 sandwiches?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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