Netflix, Nancy Meyers and the state of the rom-com

On paper, Nancy Meyers’ formidable in-the-works Netflix film appeared to have all of the elements of a basic Hollywood romantic comedy.

A semi-autobiographical plot a few filmmaking duo falling out and in of affection; A-listers, together with Scarlett Johansson, anticipated to star; and Meyers herself, identified for box-office hits together with “The Holiday” and “Something’s Gotta Give.”

But the movie’s ample finances — itself a throwback to the height of the style’s industrial powers within the ‘90s and 2000s — proved too much for Netflix. The film was reportedly set to cost well more than $100 million to produce, a scale normally seen in action spectacles, not meet-cutes.

Netflix backed out of the project Tuesday, according to people familiar with the matter, after a disagreement over the budget between the filmmakers and the streaming giant became public. Puck News reported that Meyers’ workforce wished a $150-million finances, whereas Netflix wouldn’t spend greater than round $130 million. A particular person near the manufacturing disputed the reported numbers however declined to offer particular figures.

Representatives for Netflix and Meyers declined to remark.

The choice comes as streaming companies, together with Netflix, grow to be extra cautious with their content material spending to fulfill investor stress to extend income. Streamers have not too long ago canceled beforehand renewed reveals , pulled out of movies and lower jobs to save cash.

With Netflix pulling out, Meyers’ film, titled “Paris Paramount,” will likely be shopped to different studios, based on one of many individuals conversant in the state of affairs, who was not approved to remark. But it’s not clear what firm, if any, would choose up a mission with these prices.

“This was not just a huge number — it was an insane, unthinkable, unrealistic sum,” stated Stephen Galloway, dean of Chapman University’s movie faculty. “There’s a train that starts moving forward and people keep jumping on, and at some point you start saying, ‘Hold on, the freight is too much for this train to bear.’”

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During the heyday of the studio romantic comedy, Meyers established herself as one of many greatest model names within the style and one of the vital highly effective feminine administrators within the business.

After making her profitable directorial debut with 1998’s “The Parent Trap” (starring Lindsay Lohan), Meyers went on to make such hits as “The Holiday” and “It’s Complicated,” usually centered on the romantic entanglements (and impeccably furnished properties) of mature, prosperous skilled girls.

Those movies benefited from their robust enchantment to an underserved older, feminine viewers. At the time of its launch in 2000, Meyers’ “What Women Want” was the highest-grossing movie ever directed by a girl, taking in $182 million domestically.

Meyers stays a magnet for stars, who’re drawn to her sharp dialogue, swoon-inducing settings and exacting devotion to getting the smallest particulars on her movies excellent. “The most important thing is that I get what I feel the movie needs, and I’m the one in the moment who has been entrusted with the job of getting the movie to work,” Meyers informed The Times in 2009.

But the extent of established star energy Meyers is accustomed to comes at a steep worth. “Something’s Gotta Give,” starring Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, value an estimated $80 million to supply, after “What Women Want” (Mel Gibson reverse Helen Hunt) value $70 million.

And immediately’s theatrical panorama is way much less hospitable to the romantic comedy. Of the 100 top-grossing rom-coms on the home field workplace, solely 5 had been launched over the last decade, based on Box Office Mojo. (The style’s all-time greatest non-inflation-adjusted hit, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” got here out greater than 20 years in the past.)

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Last yr’s Jennifer Lopez-Owen Wilson movie “Marry Me,” launched concurrently in theaters and on Peacock, took in simply $22.5 million on the home field workplace, whereas Universal’s “Bros,” centered on two commitment-phobic homosexual males, bombed with $14.8 million.

October’s “Ticket to Paradise,” starring seasoned rom-com veterans Julia Roberts and George Clooney, fared higher, incomes a good $168 million worldwide, however nonetheless lagged far behind the blockbusters that Roberts and Clooney every recurrently made in earlier a long time.

“We’re not in a rom-com-friendly era,” Galloway stated. “I don’t know if it’s because there’s less naivete or optimism or because people swipe Tinder and that’s their idea of a date. But for whatever reason, romance doesn’t have quite the same social appeal.”

Meyers herself hasn’t directed a movie since 2015’s office dramedy “The Intern,” starring Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro, which grossed $195 million globally. That movie carried a $35-million finances, which is on the excessive finish of what a typical romantic comedy now prices. “Crazy Rich Asians,” a massively worthwhile hit in 2018, value simply $30 million.

With studios inserting fewer bets on midbudget movies, romantic comedy discovered a brand new outlet on streaming companies. Netflix confirmed a very sturdy urge for food for the style, cranking out cheap rom-coms like “The Kissing Booth” and “Set It Up” that struck a chord with youthful viewers.

More not too long ago, Netflix launched “Your Place or Mine,” starring Reese Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher, and “You People,” with Jonah Hill, Lauren London and Eddie Murphy — tasks that will have been field workplace slam dunks in an earlier period. They had been the highest two streaming film premieres for romantic comedies in the course of the previous six months, based on Samba TV.

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“While broadly drawing in strong audiences, millennial parents, and women in particular, tend to turn out for the escapist romantic comedies more than any other group,” stated Dallas Lawrence, senior vp of Samba TV in a press release. “Overall, star power appears to be critical to drawing in audiences.”

But immediately’s profitable streaming rom-coms usually function a youthful technology of actors who is probably not family names, and thus aren’t as costly.

“Set it Up” starred Zoey Deutch and a pre-”Top Gun: Maverick” Glen Powell, alongside the extra seasoned Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs. “Kissing Booth” stars Joey King, Jacob Elordi and Joel Courtney had been little-known earlier than the Netflix smash.

The streamer continues to spend money on the rom-com house, with upcoming motion pictures “A Tourist’s Guide to Love” set for April 21 and “The Perfect Find” on June 23. Netflix executives have lengthy expressed the significance of getting a mixture of several types of content material on the platform to fulfill its numerous buyer base.

“There is a stronger valuation on average for romance films on streaming compared to theatrical releases when taking into account revenue generated per film compared to production budget,” stated Julia Alexander, director of technique at Parrot Analytics in an emailed assertion. “As companies attempt to better their portfolio optimization, matching the right romantic comedy at the right budget to the right streaming service is crucial.”