Fathom Events has announced that in conjunction with Universal, they will present theatrical screenings of three old romantic comedies (or, as they call them, “com-roms”) on September 19, 20 and 21 in the leads to BROS. The three movies Forget Sarah Marshall, Train Wreck and knocked upwill feature pre-show commentary from BROS director Nicholas Stoller and stars Billy Eichner and Luke Macfarlane. BROS is the first major same-sex romantic comedy studio. It’s the kind of milestone we probably would have reached 20 years ago. In and Out, my best friend’s wedding and The bird cage Hadn’t Hollywood been swept away by 15 years of global franchise fever post-9/11, but I digress. At present, BROS is notable not just for its LGBTQIA-related cues, but for the sheer fact that it’s a major live-action comedy theatrical.
It’s no secret that theatrical comedy had struggled for the past few years, even before Covid sent them straight to streaming. Studios needed money fast and wanted to hold on to their big-budget action movies. In the summer of 2013, We are the Millers earned $263 million worldwide and no one batted an eyelid. At the start of 2018, it was almost miraculous that the famous and buzzing game night crossed $100 million worldwide. In 2015, Will Ferrell had two original hits with star vehicles (Get hard and daddy’s house exceeded 100 million national dollars). Now until 2020, Eurovision was debuting on Netflix. In 2015, Melissa McCarthy To spy exceeded $235 million worldwide. By 2018, The Happy Murders couldn’t break $28 million. Kevin Hart was still a $20 million+ opener in 2019. I don’t know if he still is.
Even in the mid-2010s, as intellectual property and franchises took over, live-action comedy was the last bastion of star-driven theatrical originality. This was because A) they were cheaper and B) audiences showed up if they liked the comic book star in question. Live-action comedies were relatively critic-proof. If you laughed at identity thief Where Along it wouldn’t matter much if your local detractors said that Tammie Where The wedding bell wasn’t very funny. However, the momentous changes in the way audiences consume filmed content, namely seeing only the most important must-see films in theaters, came quickly for live comedy. Even in better times, theatrical comedy has always been viewed in terms of the distinction between “performing very well at home” and “seeing it with a happy crowd enhances the experience”.
Marvel, DC and The Quick Saga success with appropriating the genre so that (simplification alert) comedy fans can get their fill with Deadpool, Spider-Man: Homecoming Where Hobbs & Shaw instead of the supposedly genuine item like Zoolander, No. 2, The edge of seventeen Where Stuber. In the summer of 2019, it was miraculous that an original, R-rated, starless comedy like good boys could open with $20 million and hit $111 million worldwide. So it’s encouraging to see that Universal and Focus haven’t abandoned the subgenre entirely. More than any other studio, by default, Comcast’s respective distributors keep live-action comedy alive as a theatrically viable product. By the way, DreamWorks’ The villains and enlightenment Minions: The Rise of Gru do the same for animated comedies, but I digress.
Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson Marry me grossed $49 million worldwide on a $23 million budget while simultaneously existing on Peacock. The Vehicle with Amblin’s Jo Koy Easter Sunday debuted earlier this month and Focus’ Honk for Jesus to save your soul gets a theatrical duel/Peacock release on September 2. BROS opens in late September after the festival debuts, and the romantic comedy George Clooney/Julia Roberts ticket to paradise opens October 21. Like Warner Bros.’ boobies rich asian, BROS is a big deal both because of its demographic milestones and because it’s a one-of-a-kind Hollywood product. I can only guess if BROS Where ticket to paradise can justify (alongside Paramount The lost city) live theatrical comedy. At least Comcast, thanks in part to PVOD revenue that can offset lower revenue, isn’t letting the genre die unchecked.