Nancy Meyers Has $130 Million Rom-Com Shelved By Netflix

Courtesy of Netflix.

Netflix has made the decision to shelve a $130 million romantic comedy that was going to be written and directed by Nancy Meyers.

Nancy Meyers
Nancy Meyers

Unless they are making this film in outer space or it is heavy on visual effects or lavish sets and costume design, there is not a single reason on this planet for a romantic comedy to have a $130 million budget. I’ve seen people complain that they’re shelving this while giving $200 million to the Russos for The Gray Man. The difference is that the latter is also an effects-driven action film. My current knowledge of the Nancy Meyers film is that there is no need for such a comparison. A film with Scarlett Johansson, Penélope Cruz, Michael Fassbender and Owen Wilson would be one to command a hefty budget.

This is what we know about the film per The Hollywood Reporter:

The film would have centered on a young writer-director who falls in love with a producer. The pair make several successful films before breaking up, both romantically and professionally. They are forced back together when a new, great project arises, and they find themselves having to deal with high stakes and volatile stars.

We’re living in a different era right now. One might look at this and say Netflix does not need to worry about box office. While this is true, there is still a matter of paying salaries. When this much money is going towards actor salaries, the studio has every reason to question moving forward. Front-end and back-end pay works much differently with streaming services. It is not like the classic theatrical model where actors get a percentage of the grosses. Could it become a film that people might not be able to find in the algorithm? Perhaps.

If romantic comedies are to be successful, studios need to produce them in the mid-budget range. All reports suggest that Nancy Meyers wants to bring the budget to $150 million. Netflix would prefer to not budge over the current $130 million. I’m sorry but unless you’re planning for a lengthy theatrical release, the film is not going to turn a profit. If I have to guess right now, it would probably end up being her final film. I’m not saying this to be mean because I’m just going off of recent film history.

Reese Witherspoon and Owen Wilson star in How Do You Know.
Reese Witherspoon and Owen Wilson star in Columbia Pictures’ “How Do You Know,” also starring Paul Rudd and Jack Nicholson.

Take a look at James L. Brooks. Three years before How Do You Know was released at the end of 2010, Knocked Up has been made on a $25 million budget and earned over $200 million worldwide. James L. Brooks is an Oscar-winning filmmaker but he hasn’t directed a film since it flopped. With a star-studded cast and late December release, the film certainly had all the potential to follow in the footsteps of Terms of Endearment, Broadcast News, and As Good As It Gets. It wasn’t a cheap film to make, not with Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd, and what is apparently the final film role for Jack Nicholson. All the main salaries would combine for $50 million. The film would not even make $50 million worldwide and that’s against a $120 million budget.

We’re living in a different era now. Romantic comedies barely make their way to the movie theater. And of the ones that do get a theatrical release? Studios are lucky if they break even after marketing costs. Some might find a way but they have to be more than just a romantic comedy. The Lost City has an all-star cast and was produced for under $70 million. Ticket to Paradise was produced on a $60 million budget. Both films did well at the box office but your mileage may vary.

The production could make its way to another studio, as reports suggest, but any theatrical release would almost certainly not turn a profit in today’s environment. People are not going to the movies in pre-pandemic numbers nor are they turning out for romantic comedies unless they blend genres.

EDIT: Warner Bros. is now circling the film. My guess is that it would have a lower budget because of a theatrical release. When it comes to streaming, salaries must include both the frontend and backend pay. This explains why a number of streaming films have a high budget.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.