August 12, 2017
Why Studios Aren’t Making as Many Comedies Anymore, According to Judd Apatow
For the most part, this was not a satisfying summer for studio comedies. Girls Night is currently on a roll with audiences and at the box-office, but the rest of this summer’s offerings included Baywatch, Rough Night, and The House (although Girls Trip is the notable exception here). All three didn’t connect with audiences. It’s not a great time for studio comedies, and according to director, producer, and writer Judd Apatow, there’s a reason for that.
Below, read Judd Apatow’s thoughts on the state of studio comedies.
From 2005-2010, comedies with producer Judd Apatow’s name on them felt like they were everywhere. From trailers, TV spots, billboards, to theaters, we saw a lot of Apatow’s name and style of humor. Over the last five years, he hasn’t produced as many movies as he once did. For one thing, he’s been producing a lot of TV – Girls, Love, and Crashing – which is the medium he told Vulture a lot of comedy writers are focusing on now:
After the last writers’ strike, it felt like the studios decided not to develop movies. They used to buy a lot of scripts, and they had big teams of people giving notes, and they worked for years with people in collaboration on those scripts. I feel like the studios don’t buy as many scripts now. It used to be you’d open up Variety, and you’d see a movie studio had just bought a big high-concept comedy. Now it seems like they’d rather things come in packaged: a script, a cast, a director. As a result, a lot of great comedy writers are going to television instead of sitting at home and trying to write a script for a film, write the way I was.
One type of comedy we don’t see as much, as Vulture points out, are broader ones like Airplane! When they mentioned Apatow’s more grounded style of comedy might’ve helped killed those sort of comedies, the Funny People director replied:
When you make the list of the best movies of all time, you’re always going to put Airplane! on it. And if movies like that aren’t being made right now, it’s because people aren’t smart enough and funny enough to make them. I don’t think it’s a result of studios or audiences rejecting anything or trying to copy anything else. If someone made a movie as funny as Airplane! right now it would make a billion dollars. Occasionally people try; most of the time they fail. When you do a big, broad comedy and it fails, it’s an easy target for criticism. I also don’t think critics have a great respect for the effort it takes to make people piss their pants laughing. They think it’s more honorable to show someone in torment, but being able to do that doesn’t make you more of an artist than being able to make The Naked Gun. It’s not hard to make people cry. Kill a dog.
Apatow’s point is basically illustrated every year by critic groups and award ceremonies. The clips playing at the Oscars are hardly ever jovial. More often than not, artists portraying misery are awarded. The technicality of crafting an action scene, a piece of suspense, or a dramatic scene are probably held in much higher regard than comedic timing – which takes a precision and skill that, as Apatow says, doesn’t always get the respect deserved.
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