Do Romantic Comedies Really Do Well at the Box Office?

Every year around the holidays, we are faced with a new slew of romantic comedies addressing holiday themes. But do these films really do as well in the box office as other genres of film? If not, why do they keep getting produced as steadily as films of other genres?

I recently looked at the list of the top 100 highest grossing movies of all time. On the list only a meager two films on the list were romantic comedies. Namely, Meet the Fockers, and Pretty Woman. So only 2% of the top grossing films of all time were romantic? Seems rather dismal. I suppose, two other films loosely could be called romantic comedies: Ghost and Mamma Mia. However in my opinion Ghost qualifies more as a supernatural romantic film than a romantic comedy. Mamma Mia qualifies more as a musical.

So why does the box office year after year turn over whole new slate of romantic comedies when only two romantic comedies have been considered massive box office successes? How does any filmmaker get funding for a film, if its pretty much guaranteed to make less money than other films of other genres. In my opinion, the main reason that romantic comedies keep getting made is that romantic comedies are cheaper to produce than other genres. Therefore, it is easier and perhaps quicker to turn a profit on these films.

The genres that are the hugest box offices successes are also, no surprise, much more expensive. We have our massive budget blockbuster, record-breaking successes like Titanic and Lord of the Rings (loaded to the gills with special and visual fx, action, stars, and elaborate sets and costumes. Then we have our intensive animation category ie Lion King, Shrek and Cars, also very expensive to create(sometimes taking massive animation teams years and years to produce.)

Additionally, the Hollywood industry wants to make sure seats are filled once the film is released to theatres. Producing romantic comedies, or yes let’s just go ahead and say it, why don’t we, “Chick Flicks,” are a very safe bet. Women, year after year, are guaranteed to drag men into the theatres to watch romantic comedies.

Before you go ahead and view me as being sexist in this viewpoint, I just want to point out that I am a woman. And I am a woman who doesn’t really enjoy romantic comedies very much. Yet I too have to profess I have, on quite a few occasions, dragged a man, kicking and screaming even, to see a “Chick Flick.” Sometimes the occasion is just perfect for a romantic comedy and no other film will suffice. For example, romantic comedies are an enticing pick for dates and romantic occasions such as valentines’ day. You can bet (and Hollywood can bet too) that every single weekend there are countless couples on dates. Countless couples settle on the relatively safe bet of seeing a romantic comedy.

Romantic comedies do not fare so well at the box office when you look at the top grossing films of all time; however, it is easy to understand why they are churned out year after year. When adjusted for how much romantic comedies cost to make vs. how much they gross, I am certain the statistics would be much different. These films cost nowhere near as much to make as action films, animated films or fx-driven films and they have a steady and reliable built-in audience. Hollywood always enjoys a safe bet, and “chick flicks” are no doubt safe. There is always some newly dating couple out to see a movie, looking to choose something innocuous, yet romantic.