Numbers don’t lie, and they often confirm our worst suspicions.
Take big-screen comedies. When was the last gut-busting feature that rocked the box office in the “Step Brothers,” “Bridesmaids” tradition? Sure, animated films are often humorous, and some MCU films deliver laughs along with superhero action.
Old-school comedies, often R-rated and brimming with anti-heroes, are an endangered species at the cineplex.
Podcast giant Joe Rogan said as much last year, and now we have the facts to back it up.
Former Amazon Studios head Roy Price noticed some raw data regarding feature comedies and shared it via Twitter.
Does it seem odd that comedy as a share of US box office is down from 21% in 2008 to 10% in 2022?
(and that’s counting many family films as comedy)
I think that is a supply issue. Because people still like to laugh (afaik). pic.twitter.com/Qc0Nlmxf7n
— Roy Price (@RoyPrice) May 4, 2023
The-Numbers.com shows how comedies made up 20 percent of the total movie market share in 1997. Six years later, that number peaked at 21.44 percent.
That year we saw classic romps like “Old School,” “Stuck on You” and “Bad Santa.”
By 2020, the comedic market share shrunk to 3.8 percent. Now, it stands at 6.73 percent after 2023’s first quarter.
What changed? Isn’t it obvious?
The culture changed and, along with it, our ability to laugh at ourselves. Lovable characters like Bluto from “Animal House” are now too offensive. Select groups cannot be teased lest accusations of racism or bigotry emerge.
Jokes now “trigger” select audience members who revel in victimhood and scurry to social media to share their performative outrage. And, sadly, these souls hold sway over the culture in ways that scare cowardly Hollywood silly.
Comedy guru Todd Phillips abandoned the genre for that very reason.
Big screen comedies like 2015’s “Get Hard” came under fire as being racist, despite black comedian Kevin Hart co-headlining alongside Will Ferrell. Amy Schumer uncorked two comedies, “Snatched” (2017) and “I Feel Pretty” (2018), which both got blasted as racist and/or problematic.
She hasn’t made a big-screen comedy since.
Woke isn’t entirely to blame for the dearth of big-screen comedies. Some switched from theatrical releases to streaming, although very few have broken through like the “Old Schools” and “Step Brothers” of yore.
Is anyone quoting “Vacation Friends?” “Murder Mystery 1 or 2?” “The Wrong Missy?” “Spirited?” “Coming 2 America?” “Wine Country?”
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This should be a golden age for comedy, much like how horror is firing on all cylinders. Not only is modern culture ripe for ridicule, but it can be done at a fraction of the cost of the average blockbuster.
Comedies don’t demand A-list talents, for starters, and the hefty price tags they require. One of the best comedies of the modern era, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” featured actors who weren’t A-listers at the time, including Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd and Elizabeth Banks.
Funny films rarely require CGI-laden budgets which might make a Return on Investment (ROI) harder to justify.
Modern audiences crave escapism, and the best way to make them forget their troubles is with laughter. It’s why rebel comics like Ryan Long, Chrissie Mayr, Tyler Fischer, Tim Dillon and, of course, Joe Rogan thrive on alternative platforms.
This comedy video, with no marketing or studio behind it, generated millions of views within a few days.
Andrew Schulz sold his “Infamous” special independently and quickly turned a profit. Louis C.K., canceled by mainstream Hollywood for his gross sexual acts, sold out Madison Square Garden earlier this year.
We’re desperate for laughter, but Hollywood is too cowardly to meet us halfway.
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