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Today’s topic was suggested by my wife (hello, honey!). For the longer story as to how this topic came up, see the epilogue at the end of the article.

For now, I’ll focus on what she suggested I research: Are romantic comedies shorter (and do they receive poorer reviews) than non-comedic romance movies?

I built a dataset of all movies which grossed at least $1 in US cinemas between 1980 and 2017 (13,159 movies) to try to discover the answer.

How romance compares to other genres

Let’s start by having a look at how the romance genre compares to other genres.  For each movie I gathered three pieces of information (where available):

  • Length, measured in minutes, from IMDb.
  • Metascore, which is the average score of all major critics, out of 100.
  • IMDb user rating, out of 10.

The average running time of romantic movies is 107 minutes – very close to the overall average for all genres of 105 minutes.

Across all reviews, romantic movies received an average of 55 out of 100.  This again puts romance in the middle of all genres.

Finally, let’s look at what film audiences think of romantic films, via the IMDb rating.  Across all movies, romance averages 6.3 out of 10 – yet another middle range.

So far, we’ve only seen how romance compares with other genres.  This tells us that it’s no outlier by any of these three metrics.  So let’s now look at how the presence (or lack) of comedy affects the scores.

Are funny romantic movies shorter than serious romantic movies?

In order to answer our core question, I split all “Romance” films into two categories: funny and serious.  I used the IMDb “Comedy” genre classification to do this and, just by chance, it split the 2,768 almost exactly down the middle, with 1,385 coming out as “funny” and 1,383 being labelled “serious”.

For the past three decades, romantic comedies were an average of 8.5 minutes shorter than their more serious counterparts.  In the last few years, the trend has weakened and in 2016, serious romances were longer for the first time since at least 1990.

Let’s turn to what film critics think of romantic movies, as measured by their Metascore. Rom-coms get an average of 52 out of 100 whereas non-com-roms score an average of seven points higher.

This has been true for most of the past three decades, but has switched in recent years.  It seems that the most recent romances are bucking the historic trend in both length and quality.

And the same pattern is true for film audience scores, as measured by IMDb ratings.

I’m not sure what is causing this recent shift in the romance genre.  As I wrote about a few months ago, there has been a lot of change among romantic movies recently and so this may just be another consequence of a fast-changing genre.

Further reading

If you want to dig deeper on any of the topics I covered today then you may enjoy these past articles:

Notes

The data today came from IMDb, Metacritic and the Numbers.  For the time series charts, I focused on 1990 onwards as some of the pre-1990s data is patchy.

Epilogue

As promised, here’s the slightly longer story for how this topic came up.

My wife was assessing her options for movies and I browsed the VOD platform NowTV to find recommendations.  As she sat at her laptop, I scrolled on the TV, calling out possible movies and why I thought she might like each of them.  She was on the lookout for something romantic, but funny-romantic, not weepy-romantic.

I found a contender and called out: “here’s one I’m sure you’ll like – it’s a romance with a short running time and a rating of two out of five”.  My now-rather-confused wife came over and wanted to know why I was suggesting a short, bad movie.  My honest answer was… “I’m not sure, but my gut is telling me this is the right romance for you”.

Offended that I had implied her idea of a good romance is short and bad, she demanded the research to back up my claim.

Needless to say, I had a lot riding on the outcome of today’s investigation.  Fortunately, I now have the data to prove that it’s just her taste in movies which is “short and bad,” rather than her romantic life more generally.  (Although if the research had proved the reverse it could have spelt trouble for our two-year marriage, thereby proving that it wasn’t just her taste in movies…)

The post Are rom-coms shorter (and worse) than serious romance films? appeared first on Stephen Follows.

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Today, I’m sharing my most recent collaboration with Bruce Nash for the American Film Market.

This time, we investigated the common factors behind successful comedies.

Who watches comedies?

To understand how to make a comedy successful, we first looked at who watches them. We used data from UK cinema audience surveys by Pearl and Dean from the past twenty years to compare comedy films to those of other genres.

Let’s start with gender. At 54%, comedy had the second-highest percentage of women in their audiences, when compared all major genres, behind only romance (which stood at 59%). The other basic demographic category is age. To analyse this, we sub-divided the audience data by MPAA certificate to see how audiences differ between types of comedy.

As you may expect, no-one under 15 goes to see R-rated movies (well, not officially). 15 to 24 year-olds make up almost half of the cinema audience for R-rated movies. As you move up the age spectrum, the age split regresses to similar levels seen among G, PG and PG-13 rated movies. Note the slight bump for G and PG-rated movies in the 35 to 44-year-old bracket – that’s because many are parents and their cinema choices are not entirely up to them!

What do these charts tell us? First, that family-friendly comedy works across the age spectrum. For example, if you walk into a cinema showing a G-rated comedy, you will find about as many people aged 35-44 as 7-11 year-olds, and only slightly fewer people between 15 and 24, or over 45. Partly, this is because parents take their kids to the movies, but there are also plenty of teenagers going to such films, as well as older film-goers.

Second, PG-13 and R-rated comedies appeal especially to 15-24 year-olds, with a relatively high number of young women in the crowd. Comedies make great date movies, of course. So the demographics suggest that films should be targeted either at very general audiences, with a G, PG, or PG-13 rating; or at teens and young adults with a higher rating (probably R). In both cases, appealing to women and men is key.

Profitability

In a previous study for the American Film Market, we looked at correlations between different genres and their estimated level of profitability.  By focusing on comedies, we can see that the budget of a comedy is not a strong indicator of likely profitability.

That said, the lowest budget films appear to have the lowest levels of success, with just 35% of comedies budgeted under $1 million likely to turn a profit after all income and costs, compared to 52% of those budgeted over $125 million. It’s worth noting that this study looked at films which reached US cinemas, and a huge number of sub-$1 million comedies do not get a theatrical release, whereas the vast majority of the biggest-budgeted films do get some sort of big screen release. So what does correlate with profitability? Audience reviews.

We estimate that fewer than a third of comedies with an IMDb score of under 6 out of 10 reached break even. By contrast, all of the comedy feature films we studied with an IMDb score of 8 or higher earned enough to be profitable (assuming industry standard deals and fees!)

Positive messages and role models

By using Common Sense Media ratings (to measure the content of movies) and IMDb user scores (to measure audience enjoyment) we can determine links between what’s in a movie and how much people enjoy it.

Of all genres, comedy has the highest correlation between levels of positive role models and audience enjoyment. The greater the role models, the higher the audience love. Let’s zoom in a little more to see if this applies to all comedies. It seems that positive messages are appreciated in comedies rated G, PG and PG-13, but not R-rated movies.

The charts below show the Pearson correlation coefficient, where zero means no correlation and one is a complete positive correlation.

How do comedies travel?

So we know who goes to comedies, but what do they watch? The answer is mostly locally-produced comedies. In fact, comedy is the genre that travels the worst internationally. For example, below is the share of box office generated domestically for US-produced films with budgets under $10 million made since 2000.

All genres at this budget level earn most of their box office in North America, but comedies are the most dependent on their local market: about two-thirds of the box office for US-made comedies comes from North America.

Dramas and documentaries are a little behind, along with thrillers, all of which get about 60% of their box office from the domestic market. Horror, on the other hand, travels very well, with an almost even split between domestic and international.

How does star power affect comedy performance?

You may recall from our previous article on dramas that there is little correlation between the bankability of the stars involved and how much an independent drama makes at the box office. Comedies, however, have a much stronger correlation between star power and success. You may recall that the relationship between star power and the success of dramatic features had an R² of 0.05, meaning virtually no relationship at all (a perfect correlation would have a value of 1). The correlation is much stronger for comedies, at 0.31.

In simple terms, only 5% of the success of a drama is down to who’s in it—the quality of the script, direction, and many other factors are critically important. For comedies, about 31% of a film’s success is determined by its cast.

That’s not to say that quality isn’t important (it is!) but people are drawn to comedies with well-known actors more than with dramas. Of course, it’s also true that well-known comedians are, well, funny… which certainly doesn’t do any harm when it comes to making a comedy successful.

Conclusion

Over the course of these articles, we’ve seen how each genre has its own unique set of characteristics: for dramas, quality is king; family films rely on positive messages and careful tailoring for their target audience; horror films need good marketing to succeed. Comedies are less constrained in some ways.

They reach audiences across the age spectrum, and all sub-genres can work, from light romantic comedies to gross-out teen fare, family films to decidedly adult content.

It also seems that comedies aren’t dependent on having a particular budget to succeed, which potentially makes life easier for the independent film-maker.

It’s worth bearing in mind that comedies don’t generally travel well. What’s hilarious in one country might be considered decidedly unfunny in other parts of the world. Language barriers can be particularly high for some forms of comedy, too. So it’s wise to focus on success in your home market and regard opportunities abroad as a bonus.

What helps with a comedy is a recognizable star. That’s easily done for a studio film, of course, but even for independent films, having someone well-known on the poster can help. With stand-up comedy having something of a golden era, that might not be as hard as it sounds.

Notes
  • In the demographics section, we have used UK audience data with MPAA ratings. This was achieved by using Pearl and Dean data for each movie surveyed and then cross-referencing it with each movie’s MPAA certificate. This is not a perfect fit as UK cinemas don’t use MPAA ratings but we felt this was the best way of explaining our findings to our international audience who are unlikely to be familiar with the UK’s certification system.
  • In the domestic vs international box office chart we’ve excluded genres for which we could find less than 20 movies in this budget range, which includes action and adventure.
  • For the profitability figures, we looked at 3,715 feature films released in US cinemas 2000-15 for which we have production budget information (a complete list can be found here). By using an algorithmic model we’ve developed from real-world data, we’re able to estimate the chance of each of our 3,715 films reaching profitability. This takes into account all income streams (from theatrical right through to syndication) and all costs (such as the budget, marketing and distribution costs).

The post Patterns among successful comedy movies appeared first on Stephen Follows.

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Today, I’m sharing another project I carried out for the American Film Market along with Bruce Nash from The Numbers. In this article, we’re going to look at the performance of dramas, and what it takes for them to be successful.

The moniker ‘drama’ is often maligned by distribution professionals as not being a real genre.  There is some truth to this claim – many films which lack a clear genre are simply labelled as dramas, and drama is a rather broad classification (i.e. any moment in life can technically be labelled as drama, whereas not every event can be classed as romantic, sci-fi, western etc).

The main purpose of genre classification is to set the audiences’ expectations.  What will they get in return for their money and time if they decide to watch your movie?  In the case of a comedy, they will expect to laugh. A horror movie promises to scare and/or unsettle.  What does a drama promise to deliver? Merriam Webster’s dictionary suggests that drama movies “tell a story usually involving conflicts and emotions through action and dialogue” and often have a “serious tone or subject“.  Whilst this isn’t an “official” definition for the film industry, it’s a handy rule of thumb.

Now that we know what we’re studying, let’s dive into what the data told us.  We looked at four questions:

  1. What’s the most important factor affecting the success of a drama?
  2. What other factors correlate with successful independent dramas?
  3. Do film festivals favour dramas?
  4. Does star casting matter for independent dramas?
1. What’s the most important factor affecting the success of a drama?

Drama producers typically have low budgets and compete in a crowded market with little-to-no marketing support.  So any competitive edge they can carve out for their movie will go a long way.  The good news is that there is one factor which, above all others, correlates with success.

To discover this we looked at 1,604 drama feature films released in US cinemas 2000-15 for which we have production budget information (a complete list can be found here). By using an algorithmic model we’ve developed from real-world data, we were able to estimate the chance that each of our films reached profitability. This takes into account all income streams (from theatrical right through to syndication) and all costs (such as the budget, marketing and distribution costs).

We then studied the correlation between profitability and the views of film audiences (as measured via IMDb user scores) and film critics (as measured by a movie’s Metascore).

The results are pretty stark. Dramas with low scores perform poorly, whereas highly rated films are far more likely to be profitable.  If your drama reaches cinemas with an IMDb rating of at least 8 or a Metascore of 70 or above then it’s more likely than not to generate a profit. To some, this may seem self-evident but this isn’t the case for all genres.  For example, horror films have a much weaker correlation between quality and profitability.

Also, the shape of the graphs are important.  Improving films from being ‘ok’ to ‘good’ won’t help much – it’s get really, really good or go home!

2. What other factors correlate with successful independent dramas?

So, quality matters. But what other factors go into making a drama relatively successful?

Looking in The Numbers’ dataset, we pulled out all US-produced dramas made since 2000 with a budget less than $10 million that received a theatrical release and examined the ratio between their domestic box office and production budget.

In order to avoid skewing the data too much, we excluded films that grossed more than 10 times their budget, and the ones that grossed less than 1% of their budget. (The total sample size after applying these rules was 228 films.) Contemporary fiction generates the best box office return among creative types, with nearly double the return of historical fiction and dramatizations.

Does this mean that contemporary is twice as popular among audiences? We don’t think so. Instead, we think that historical fiction and dramatizations (which by definition are also set in the past) are more expensive to make: think of the props, staging, period-appropriate vehicles, and so on. That doesn’t mean that films set in the past can’t be successful—far from it—but setting a film in the past for the sake of it probably isn’t a good idea.

Among sources, original screenplays perform slightly better than films based on fictional books, and better again than films based on real-life events (a category that includes films based on factual books). This is probably related to the expense of making films set in the right time period again, but another possible factor is that the author of a book isn’t constrained by thoughts of how much their creation might cost to film. If a pivotal scene in a book takes place in a snowstorm, a film adaptation of the book will probably need to include a snowstorm… and the expense that goes with shooting it.

For MPAA rating, there’s less of an effect. R-rated films tend to do slightly better than PG-13 rated films and PG-13 slightly better than PG. But the difference isn’t so great that we would assign a particular weight to one rating over another—it’s probably better to make the film authentically, rather than worry about adding or removing particular content.

This isn’t true at higher budgets (which is why virtually all studio films are PG or PG-13), but for independent drama, the target audience is over 18, and most likely isn’t basing its movie-going decisions on the rating of a film.

If you’re starting from scratch, this analysis suggests that contemporary, R-rated, original screenplay dramas perform slightly better. But there are huge variations for individual films, and, digging a little deeper, there are really a few rules that stand out:

  1. Be mindful of budget, particularly when it comes to the need to set a film in a particular time period.
  2. When adapting existing material, is there something intrinsic to the story that might be expensive to shoot?
  3. If your target audience is the adult demographic, don’t worry too much about keeping your film PG or PG-13 rated, but rather about telling the story authentically.
3. Do film festivals favour dramas?

Film festivals are often seen as a vital conduit for drama filmmakers, a place where they can show off their new films and attract distribution offers. The data certainly backs the notion that dramas perform better than other genres at major festivals.

We looked at the nominees for the main film prize at four film festivals – the Cannes Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival (Dramatic competition) and the London Film Festival.

Across the seven years we studied, 76% of nominated films were dramas, as were 86% of the winners.  By contrast, only 33% of the films released in US cinemas in those years were dramas.

4. Does star casting matter for independent dramas?

One final question we wanted to answer was whether casting a well-known actor or actress in an independent film has a significant effect on the film’s performance.

For this, we looked again at films budgeted between $1 million and $10 million, made since 2000, and with some reported box office, and used The Numbers Bankability Index to measure the star power of each film.

We used the simple measure of adding together the “per movie value” of each actor in a film, according to the Bankability Index, with no weighting for whether they had a starring or supporting role. This is a somewhat crude measurement but allowed us to get the widest possible set of films for the analysis—353 in total. If there was a perfect relationship between Bankability and box office (e.g. every $1 of Bankability resulted in $1 extra at the box office), then the dots would line up roughly diagonally from the bottom left to the top right of the chart, but they look like a fairly random distribution.

At the right-hand end of the chart, you can see that a really well-known cast in a low budget movie can make a difference: the three furthest points to the right belong to Good Night and Good Luck, Crash, and Dallas Buyers Club, all of which topped $50 million at the worldwide box office.

But if you look at the films that grossed over $100 million worldwide: Crash, Lost in Translation, and Billy Elliot, they had, respectively high, medium, and low star power.

So we don’t see a strong correlation between star power and box office performance. But there are other factors worth bearing in mind.

Having a well-known star can help secure international sales, or attract investors. And the analysis shows that stars do bring value to a project if only some. You can’t make a high-quality drama without high-quality acting… and we saw earlier that that’s worth paying for.

A note on drama definitions

In order to focus today’s research, we have used the classification system from The Numbers, which assigns only one genre per movie.  This meant that 33% of the movies released between 1997 and 2016 were classed as dramas.  The same figure for IMDb is 62%, meaning that they classify two-thirds of all movies as dramas.

Further reading

If you are interested in moving up the budget scale then you may enjoy one of my older articles which looked at the fate of $15 million to $60 million dramas over the past twenty years – Has the mid-budget drama disappeared?

The post How important are quality and cast for dramas? appeared first on Stephen Follows.

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Four times a year, the American Film Market asks Bruce Nash and I to crunch the numbers on a topic relevant to their audience of low budget producers.  In the past, we’ve looked at topics such as what types of independent films make the most money, patterns among breakout hits at different budget ranges ($3m to $10m, $10m to $20m and $20m to $50m), what VOD audiences watch, and which movies travel best.

This year, they have asked us to focus on four different genres and look at what producers can do to increases their chances of financial success.

First up – family films.

The genre classification ‘family’ is an interesting one.  Some genres are defined by their content (such as Comedy), some by their setting (such as Western), some by their production method (such as Animation) while others are defined by their audience (such as Family). This means that the shape of a film in the family genre is slightly nebulous.  Certainly, they are all likely to receive a G or PG rating from the MPAA, and few are likely to be documentaries (notwithstanding exceptions such as March of the Penguins).  But even this narrowing down still includes numerous films which we would not regard as “family films”, such as My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

The main result of this genre classification is that producers of family films need to focus on how audiences will perceive their work.

The animated takeover of family films

The first place to start when discussing the family genre is to look at how radically it has changed over the past few decades.

The chart below shows the proportion of G- and PG-rated films earning more than $10 million at the box office (adjusted for inflation) that were either purely live action or substantially animated. As you can see, there has been a strong shift away from live-action and towards animation.

Note: The 2015 to 2018 group goes up to 24th July 2018

Back in the early 1990s, roughly 80%-90% of family films were purely live action—think Home Alone, Hook, and The Adventures of Huck Finn. The exceptions were primarily big-budget Disney animated films like Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King.

With the arrival of new computer technology in the late 1990s, and particularly from 2000 onwards, the landscape for family films changed dramatically. Digitally-animated films like Toy Story and its sequels and hybrids of computer animation and live action such as the Harry Potter and Alvin and the Chipmunks movies have come to dominate the market. Since 2010, the majority of family films to make over $10 million at the box office have been at least partially animated.

The problem this creates for independent family films is that it’s increasingly difficult to have a breakout success with mainstream audiences. The animated and animation/live-action hybrids that made over $10 million at the domestic box office (inflation adjusted) in The Numbers database have an average budget of $98 million and $96 million respectively, compared to an average budget of $35 million for live-action films meeting the same criteria.

In short, it’s the big-budget studio tentpoles that are reaching mass market family audiences, and there’s limited scope for lower-budget films to compete with them directly.

So, does this mean doom and gloom for the indie family film business? It turns out the answer to that question is an emphatic ‘No!’ Instead, successful producers in the family film business have carefully targeted their films at specific audiences.

In the following sections, we highlight the ones that stand out in the data.

1. Faith-based films

The first group of films to stand out was in the faith-based market.

Films such as Fireproof, God’s Not Dead, War Room, and The Case for Christ were all highly profitable, according to our analysis of their performance across all platforms. While these films weren’t necessarily targeted directly at families, they are family-friendly and aim to bring families together for a shared viewing experience.

What’s notable about the best-performing of these films is their direct calls to faith. While some faith-based films use religious themes as part of a broader story, the really successful ones are unabashedly religious: less about drawing in non-Christians, and more about serving an existing market that craves religious content.

2. Man’s best friend

Dogs are a staple of family films, and films with dogs in leading roles have a few advantages from the perspective of the independent producer:

  • First, other animal favourites (think dolphins, penguins, and elephants) are much more expensive to film in an ethical fashion.
  • Second, dogs can be trained to perform.
  • And third, for all the cat videos on the internet, dogs tend to be a little more cinematic in their adventures.

It is therefore no surprise that, along with series like Air Bud, we see The Dog Who Saved Christmas, A Dog Named Christmas, and Cool Dog among the profitable family films.

That doesn’t rule out other movies involving animals, so long as they can be made at a reasonable budget: horses are another perennial favourite and have many of the same advantages as their canine pals.

3. Positive messages

If your film has neither gods nor dogs, what can you do to increase your chances of success?  The answer lies in the content of the script.

To further investigate, we looked for a broader set of data on family-friendly movies and dug into the popularity of films tracked by Common Sense Media.  Their reviewers assign each film a series of scores, out of five.  For example, Adventure Planet scores four out of five for Educational Value, five for Postive Messages and four for Positive Role Models & Representations.

Across all the 1,823 family movies that Common Sense Media reviewed, there is a strong correlation between high levels of positive educational messages and the overall IMDb audience score (which we’re using as a proxy for how popular the movie is).

The reverse is true when looking at levels of bad language and ‘sexy stuff’.  Obviously, the levels of child-unfriendly content are very minimal, and so to illustrate the point, the axis on the charts below only show up to one out of five, but the scale is the same five-point scale used for the previous three charts.

The post Three ways to increase your chances of success when making a family film appeared first on Stephen Follows.

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Today’s article is in response to a question from Jack Malvern at The Times.  He got in touch to ask if fewer romantic comedies were being made.

There has been press speculation that the “rom-com” genre is moving away from the big screen and onto subscription VOD platforms such as Netflix.  So I agreed to take a look.

For today’s research, I am referring to “rom-coms” as films with both the genres of “Romance” and “Comedy”.  There’s more on that classification in the Notes section at the end of the article.

I built datasets of all movies made between 1980 and 2017 (190,544 movies), identified which had grossed at least $1 at the US box office (13,159 movies) and out of those I included any which fitted my definition of a rom-com (1,715 movies).

Who loves love more – filmmakers or film fans?

Across the almost four decades that I studied, romantic comedies made up 4.4% of all feature films made.  However, they accounted for 13% of all movies which reached US cinemas.  This means that the demand for such films is stronger than the supply. As the eagle-eyed among you will already have spotted, the number of rom-coms reaching US cinemas has dropped significantly in recent years.  They hit their height in 2001 when just over 18% of movies in cinemas were both romantic and comedic. That was the year of films such as America’s Sweethearts, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Shallow Hal, The Wedding Planner, Moulin Rouge, Serendipity, Kate & Leopold and Kissing Jessica Stein.

However, since then they’ve lost their spark, with only 5% of 2017 releases falling into the same category.

As many of you know, the total number of movies reaching cinemas has increased massively in the past decade or so.  Despite this, it’s not just a case of other movies swamping the rom-com – the raw numbers are down considerably too, from 76 in 2001 to just 25 in 2017.

Not only is the number of movies falling, so too are the box office receipts.  The chart below shows the number of rom-coms released as a percentage of all movies in US cinemas and the percentage of the US box office being collected by such films.

As you can see, the box office receipts have been falling faster in recent years. This suggests that it’s not a case of studios choosing not to make rom-coms but that cinema audiences are falling out of love with the rom-com. On average, rom-coms are not grossing as much as they used to.  Below is a chart of the inflation-adjusted average gross for rom-coms in US cinemas.  (I’ve added a linear trend line in blue to make it clearer what’s happening).

Will the relationship between Comedy and Romance survive?

So what’s the future for the partnership of romance and comedy on the big screen?  Well, in and amongst a sea of sad news, I offer one glimmer of hope.

In order to see it, we need to look at where rom-coms have been coming from. I returned to my dataset of all feature films made and focused just on romantic films.  This allowed me to look at the top producing countries and see what percentage of the romantic films they produce are also comedies.

The country which has historically found love the funniest is… America. Just over half of all romantic feature films made in America are also comedies.  This is starkly different from the output of Japanese filmmakers (where rom-coms make up only 25% of romance films) or that of filmmakers in Turkey (25%) or India (26%). Although America is out in front, the more recent trend is downward.  In 2003, 62% of American romantic films were also comedies, whereas in 2017 this had fallen to 49%. The reverse trend can be seen in the second largest producer of movies – India.  In 2003, rom-coms accounted for 22% of their romantic films whereas last year it was 35%. If we use some pretty crude maths, extrapolating from the 38-year average, then we may predict that America’s place as ‘Top Lover’ of rom-coms only has about 20 years left to run.  A tragic end to a loving, long-term relationship. But opening your heart to new possibilities is what rom-coms are all about and maybe… just maybe… this new rom-com lover can make audiences learn to love the genre again.

Notes

The data for today’s research came from IMDb, The Numbers/Opus and Wikipedia, and the chart at the end is based on data from Pearl and Dean.

I’ve deliberately defined “rom-com” pretty broadly.  I classified films as such if they are referred to both “Comedy” and “Romance” on IMDB (the site does not have a ‘romantic comedy’ genre classification).  The Numbers does have a dedicated “Romantic Comedy” classification but for this particular study I felt it was too narrow.  That would have reduced the focus of today’s research from 1,715 grossing romantic comedies (1980-2017) to a pool of just 323 and left out movies such as Sweet Home Alabama, Crazy, Stupid, Love and Stranger Than Fiction.  As you can see from these examples, “rom-com” can be in the eye of the beholder, and it all depends on how you weight the “rom” and the “com” in each movie.  I did check how this decision affects the trends shown here today and they show similar patterns, even with the tighter definitions (as you can see here).

Epilogue

A few years ago, I looked at the demographics of UK cinema audiences of each major genre.  Overall, 59% of the UK cinema audiences (1995-2015) for romantic films are female.

However, there were a few outlier movies which managed to attract a plurality of men to see them.  See below for the spread of demographics for the movies in the study.  A movie right in the centre would indicate that exactly half the audience were men, half were women, half were over 24 years old or older, and half were under 24 years old.

So what did the two biggest gender outliers have which attracted so many men?  Guns and sport.

The post Are romantic comedies dying? appeared first on Stephen Follows.

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