Romantic comedies boast a recent wave of new hits with more on the horizon

By Grace Hogsten

Copy Editor

Romantic comedies were everywhere in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s. Films starring Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks, and Sandra Bullock ruled the screen and became classics. During the 2010’s, however, the genre seemed to fade away, leaving its fans to rewatch older favorites.

Nevertheless, with a recent increase in the quantity of romantic comedies, and recent release “Anyone But You” grossing almost $200 million at the box office, the genre appears to be on its way back.

Films like “When Harry Met Sally,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” and “You’ve Got Mail” comprised the first round of romantic comedies, which gained popularity throughout the 90s. The genre’s success continued into the 2000’s as it added classics such as “Love Actually,” “13 Going on 30,” “She’s the Man,” and “Easy A” to its ranks.

Romantic comedies’ success, however, contributed to their inevitable downfall.

According to Deseret News, “The 2000s were when major studios began to kill the golden goose through overuse. Rom-coms were cheap to make and had seen wild success in the past, and so studios began overproducing rom-coms.”

Over-confident in their belief that a film’s genre could make up for its issues, studios produced a series of box office failures.

For example, 2010 movie “How Do You Know” grossed only $48 million at the box office against a budget of $120 million, despite a star-studded cast that included Reese Whitherspoon, Owen Wilson, and Paul Rudd.

Following several formulaic flops, the 2010s largely failed to produce iconic romantic comedies.

In 2018, the genre’s resurgence began with “Crazy Rich Asians,” which earned $239 million at the box office. The same year, Netflix hits “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” and “The Kissing Booth” showed executives that romantic comedies could still make money, according to ScreenRant.

According to The Guardian, “Industry reasons why romcoms are flourishing are pretty straightforward. Romcoms are quicker and cheaper to make, with little or no special effects, simple logistics, and good opportunities for spin-offs. Actors like doing them, and they work well as streamers online.”

This renewed success may also be due to an expansion of the genre to include more diverse couples, a shift that welcomes more people into the audience.

According to ScreenRant, “In its contentment with being a highly popular genre, rom-coms made few alterations to the ideas surrounding who could fall in love, what their life was like or who they loved. Clearly, this sort of approach was not sustainable over the passing of time.”

While studios still produce plenty of movies featuring straight, white couples, more diverse films are capturing audiences’ attention and slowly joining the genre. Following the success of “Crazy Rich Asians,” studios green-lit more romantic comedies with lead characters of color, including “Rye Lane,” “Always Be My Maybe,” and “The Perfect Find.”

Queer couples, too, are joining the list of romantic pairings featured on screen. Hulu’s “Crush” and Amazon Prime’s “Red, White, & Royal Blue” tell the stories of LGBTQ+ couples falling in love.

According to The Guardian, “The new romcoms are being made by people who grew up on the old ones and see their value, but don’t necessarily share all their values or their social context.”

A return to studio romantic comedies rather than those released directly on streaming also indicates that the genre’s success will grow, according to Business Insider.

“Many great studio films took us to amazing settings and featured stunning fashion. The ones made for streaming felt like they were cutting corners,” Jason Guerrasio wrote for Business Insider. “In comparison, ‘Anyone but You’ is a return to form, which could be another reason for its success.”

Hopefully, “Anyone but You” will remind studios that romantic comedies are not just for streaming; they can hold their own on the big screen, too.

According to Cosmopolitan, 2024 promises a host of new romantic comedies, including “The Idea of You” and “Challengers,” that feature promising storylines and big-name actors. These upcoming releases, which combine classic tropes with new perspectives and subversions of the genre, will support the continual rise of the romantic comedy.

Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Photo Caption: The recent theatrical success of “Anyone But You” starring Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell highlights the continual success of romantic comedies.

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