Comedies in Film: Has the Genre Died?

No matter your interest in movies, it’s pretty apparent that straightforward comedies aren’t as prevalent as they once were, especially compared to the early 2000s. Many people wonder why, trying to pinpoint the audience or critics for being a reason. In reality, there are many reasons why this is the case.

In this article, we’re here to discuss if the genre has died and its diminishment in popularity, including some key reasons. Examples include oversaturation and a reaction, differing budgets, genre combinations, and much more. Hopefully, by the end, you’ll better understand why the genre is where it is today.

Diminishment in Popularity

The most straightforward approach to understanding why comedies aren’t as typical as they once were is popularity. Everything in film goes in cycles. People typically get bored of a topic, and you get fewer of that genre, then suddenly, the genre is back! A good example is pirate movies, which were common in the 1980s, disappeared briefly, and came back in the 2000s.

That’s not to say comedies will return to the degree that pirate films did, with a massive blockbuster like Pirates of the Caribbean. All it means is people get sick of genres when they’re fed over a period of time. What’ll be popular in a mainstream way 20 years from now will probably vastly different from what’s currently a blockbuster.

Oversaturation and a Reaction

Part of the reason people got sick of comedies was because of the oversaturation the genre had throughout the 2000s. The success of Judd Apatow films and related blockbuster comedies led to studios putting out whatever they could comedy-wise. Franchises suffered, resulting in many sequels and spinoffs we didn’t need. Did we really need three Hangover movies?

The lowering quality of comedies resulted in fewer people going to the theatre for the genre and not trusting it for years to come. Major studios seem not to get that less is more and will drive a genre to its death by attempting to squeeze every bit of capital from the genre they can.

Differing Budgets and What Does Well at the Box Office

Budgets are way different than they used to be. Before streaming, more people went to the theatre and bought DVDs, allowing studios to take risks with medium-budget and big-budget films. Middle-budget films aren’t much of a thing anymore, and studios rely on either big box office blockbusters or smaller indie films.

From their perspective, if it doesn’t make money, why do it? After several failed comedies in the early 2010s—Evan Almighty (2007), Pixels (2015), etc.—large studios wholly focused on what was/is making money: superhero movies. Hence, you don’t have middle budgets for comedies or other genres requiring that budget type.

Combining Genres

Another reason comedies aren’t as prevalent as they were is thanks to the mashing of genres. Pretty much every superhero film has comedic elements, and many ordinary audiences look forward to those movies for that reason. Why see a new Adam Sandler comedy when you can get entertained by the latest Doctor Strange?

There are pros and cons to genres morphing into one another, and many argue that has always been a thing in cinema. While it has, it’s more of a point that comedy hasn’t died, but rather what we know as a classic comedy film. People love superhero movies for many reasons, and I’m sure they find some sort of entertainment comedically in these movies.

Other Avenues for Comedy and Realistic Expectations

I think people generally overreact when discussing comedy films and their perceptions today. Though they’re not made to the degree they were in the past, there are still plenty of comedies being made today, many of which are made for streaming. In my opinion, much of it revolves around reasonable expectations.

People complaining about fewer comedies being made have some solid points about superhero movies dominating the box office. However, it’s much more than what people see at the theatre, and much of it concerns quality. Truthfully, there are only a few great comedies yearly, even when the genre was made more often. If someone could make a rock-solid comedy that isn’t overdone, tiresome, or surface level with its material, I guarantee people will see and talk about it.



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