Is romance dead, dying, or just sleeping for a while?

I was watching television (big surprise there) when I came across some rather bad reviews on the newest romance-inspired chick flick: Made of Honor, starring Patrick Dempsey (of “Grey’s Anatomy” fame, though he’s also recently starred in Disney’s Enchanted) which made $15.5 million at the box office (Iron Man made $100.75 million). Essentially, what the critics were saying was the that the film was “mediocre.” Because I’m not a fan of these kinds of movies, I was quick to say “duh,” but when it came down to it, I couldn’t think of a single romantic film in the last few years that had been a huge box office draw.

This persuaded me to dig further, and indeed, of the top ten money makers in the romance genre, not one had been made in the last five years. Granted, romance movies have never had the draw that action and drama films do, but there seems to have been a real down trend in the amount of money these things are making today. What was even more interesting was that when IMDB voters were asked to rate their top 50 favorite romance films and all but two had not been made in the last ten years whereas the action genre had fifteen recent films and drama twelve.

Top Rated Romance Films

Top Grossing Romance Films

What is this trend saying; is the film industry simply not making good romance films anymore? Are Americans, and specifically chick flick watchers, just tired of seeing the ‘same old plot?’ Were these films just unfairly put up against other movies with a higher box office draw? Or are we just in a slump, in between great American love stories?

It’s somewhat difficult to pinpoint a definitive answer for any of these questions but I do think there has been a definite shift in the romantic chick flick genre that seems to include regurgitating old plots to make new movies. While this happens in all movie categories I think the romance section is especially notorious for the problem.

So what could it all mean? The fact that chicks still watch these box office flops doesn’t mean they don’t know what a good film is. On the contrary, the way the IMDB voters rated romance films seems to suggest they have a very high standard when it comes to good romance movies. I think that in the same way men will watch ‘the fast and the furious 25’ (or whatever) women will watch Made of Honor or The Wedding Planner, etc. It’s an escape, and though it won’t win any Oscars, it can still be an enjoyable way to pass the time….

Below, a video that parodies some of the “regurgitated” plots of chick flicks. Do all the recent chick flicks share the same inherent plot?

2 thoughts on “Is romance dead, dying, or just sleeping for a while?”

  1. I can definitely see what you’re getting at. And although I despise it and the fact that it was made over 10 years ago, isn’t “Titanic” in the top 20 movies of all time?

    Also, I think the money a movie makes is also partially reflective of the budget a movie has (especially for marketing). There are exceptions of smaller, independent movies like “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and the like. But even then, you had Tom Hank’s name attached to it as an executive producer.

  2. Perhaps “smaller” films about relationships simply have a hard time swimming upstream against the expectations created by spectacular blockbusters? With movie ticket prices at such a high, and the summer movie season dominated by so-called tentpole movies that are usuall action-oriented blockbusters…

    I often say that, when I go to the movies at full price, I want my eardrums to burst and my eyeballs to turn to jelly (sorry, disgusting image, I know). I want spectacle! In a climate like that, only the most exotic or spectacular of chick flicks stands a chance to make big bucks, no?

    Come to think of it, one thing that movies like THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA have that other chick flicks may not is spectacle: a setting in the NYC fashion industry, in a very exclusive, elevated, glitzy atmosphere: a world that many are curious about but few get to experience. Spectacle may be something that today’s action movies have over chick flicks, but, if the chick flick has an intriguing and beautiful setting, i.e., puts its protagonist into a glamorous world, that may help to set it apart, no?

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