Recently, romantic comedies have started to turn a corner. There are more unusual, messy circumstances. In the end, the girl doesn't always get the guy. Those looking for "true" romantic comedies among the year's wide releases are bound to be disappointed. The romantic drama The Vow most closely hewed to the fated-to-be-together plotline that has fueled rom-coms for decades. If audiences are looking for traditional, conservative love stories these days, they're better off with a drama, preferably one from Nicholas Sparks. The Five-Year Engagement was a romantic comedy, but its tone was completely different than a traditional one--and it didn't do that well at the box office. Think Like a Man used the ensemble comedy strategy, which gave it two weeks at #1. One for the Money was a detective comedy with an undercurrent of romance that completely bombed. And that's about it.
Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) is producing Two Night Stand, an indie romantic comedy. Music video director Max Nichols will make his directorial debut on the project, which was penned by Mark Hammer (who has one IMDB credit for the U.S. version of "Skins"). The story centers on a girl and guy who have a one-night stand that doesn't go so well. Due to extreme weather, the duo is stuck together for an additional night. The script won Hammer a spot on the 2011 Black List of outstanding unproduced screenplays. Of course, I also had high hopes for a 2008 Black List romantic comedy, which finally emerged last year as No Strings Attached, but that ended up being yet another blah entry in the genre. I wonder if Liz Meriwether's script started out that way.
The idea of two people who hate each other being stuck together is old-school screwball. Think of Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert unwillingly traveling together in It Happened One Night, or horrible Scottish weather forcing an unlikely couple together in the lovely, under-seen I Know Where I'm Going! Still, when done poorly, these stuck-together circumstances can feel exasperating, not real, so it's all about execution. Many young actors are reportedly scrambling to be cast in the picture, which will shoot this fall.
Another thing to note about this project? The word "indie." As a Variety article today pointed out, projects budgeted between $20-60 million have a really hard time getting funded nowadays. That's exactly where a lot of romantic comedies fall. Getting two big-name stars can cost millions, bringing the production above $20 million, but romantic comedies rarely need special effects budgets up to the hilt (unless they turn into The Tourist or Mr. and Mrs. Smith). That's one reason why most of the romantic comedies theses days are indies--and often more creative for it.