5 Ways to Prep: Isn't It Romantic
By George Rose
February 13, 2019
OMG, The Hollywood-pocalypse is upon us. If LEGO Movie 2 can crash and burn with a sub-$35 million debut, what hope is there for the rest of February? Or the year? Or the foreseeable future?! Besides LEGO, only How to Train Your Dragon 3 was expected to top $100 million this month and now even that is in jeopardy. Word on the street is that we may be entering an era where only Disney tentpoles make a dent in the box office and everything else will wait to be streamed at home a few months later. If this is true then just… kill me now.
Don’t get me wrong, I worship the House of Mouse and all they churn out. I do, I really, REALLY do! I’d go so far as to admit an obsession with all things Disney but that’s not enough. I’m engaged to be married and that’s about all the commitment I can handle. I get to only love one person, which means I need every other aspect of my life to be filled with variety. Disney can be my main movie squeeze but I still need a few side pieces, you know? But if a well reviewed (85% positive), highly anticipated follow-up (LEGO 2) to one of the greatest franchise launchers has trouble making any money, what hope is there for the well reviewed (98% positive, for now), highly anticipated trilogy capper (Dragon 3) to one of the greatest pet stories ever?
And if the only two potential blockbusters of the month are destined to underwhelm, what hope is there for Valentine’s Day weekend? What once was the mega-launching pad for super blockbusters like Hitch, Fifty Shades of Grey, Deadpool and Black Panther now houses the likes of Isn’t It Romantic, Happy Death Day 2U and Alita: Battle Angel. Oh, my, how far we’ve fallen. If Hollywood doesn’t have faith in the weekend, how can we? As much as I’d love to talk about a new horror movie and a 3D special effects extravaganza, because I’m a fan of even the worst those genres have to offer, it’s Valentine’s weekend and I’m all about the looooooooove.
No trifecta of box office dumpster fires can stop the fact that now is the time to celebrate our love for one another, even if there isn’t a movie worth loving at the moment. LEGO Movie 2 may have shit the bed and the new crop of releases won’t even top that weak debut, but my love for Hollywood and love itself are enough to keep me caring… for now. And with that, friends, it’s time to fall head over heels with the only new release trying to excite those butterflies in your stomach as we find 5 Ways to Prep for Isn’t It Romantic.
#1) HOW TO BE SINGLE (2016)
After breaking out in a supporting role in the surprise blockbuster Bridesmaids and landing a leading role in the hit Pitch Perfect trilogy, everyone expected Rebel Wilson to break out in a big way. In some ways she has but being offered many new roles is not the same as staring in successful films. It’s hard becoming a bonafide box office draw, especially when the wave of new roles being offered to you are supporting ones. With Isn’t It Romantic, Rebel finally has a chance to shine on her own. While this isn’t her first romantic comedy, it’s the first time Rebel gets to be the girl falling in love instead of the slapstick sidekick.
And that’s exactly what she was in her other rom-com, How to be Single. While the title suggests a promotion of single life instead of coupling up, there were plenty of romantic moments mixed in with storylines of being single and/or being promiscuous. Considering that seems a bit like an anti-rom-com, it makes for a suitable comparison to the mock-rom-com that is Isn’t It Romantic. It also started Dakota Johnson, hot off the heels of her Fifty Shades fame. Though that trilogy posted three $100+ million entries, Dakota could only carry Single to a $18 million debut and $47 million total over the similar Valentine’s Day weekend in 2016. With Isn’t It Romantic also lampooning the traditional concepts of a romance, it might be safe to say similar number should be expected for Rebel’s Valentine.
#2) DATE MOVIE (2006)
So, yeah, Isn’t It Romantic isn’t really about a girl falling in love with a boy and asking him to love her. No, it’s about a girl that hit her head and wakes up in a world driven by romantic comedy tropes. While I do love high-concept comedy with a schtick, making fun of romantic comedies has already been done in Date Movie. Grated, Date Movie is less a true attempt to make light of a loving genre and more just another notch in the Scary/Epic/Superhero/Disaster Movie lineup of harsh, raunchy genre takedowns. Isn’t It Romantic seems less likes it’s trying to trash its subject matter and more like a respectful nod to the cliches it’s calling out. It’s almost like rom-com inception, in that I expect Rebel’s self-aware romance leading lady to actually fall in love along the way, instead of just laughing at the cliches as they come.
Given the talent involved - Rebel Wilson, Liam Hemsworth, Priyanka Chopra and Adam Devine (Wilson’s Pitch Perfect love interest) - Isn’t It Romantic has been given the pedigree a mock-movie like Date Move could only dream of. This isn’t some D-list joke better saved for DVD, this is a real romantic comedy that’s sure to warm your hearts and make you smile. In all honesty, I’m really excited to see Romantic and there’s no better way to prep for it than by watching a terrible version of the same thing first. If you want to fall for Rebel Wilson, watch Date Movie. It’s so bad that by me reminding you of it you’ll be able to appreciate what Rebel is releasing this week. Then again, helping a movie look better against the competition can’t always help it make more money. Date Movie, with all its faults, opened to $19 million and made $49 million. Considering that's before 13 years of inflation and still tops Rebel’s How to Be Single, just being the more enjoyable film will have to be victory enough for Isn’t It Romantic.
#3) I FEEL PRETTY (2017)
Even a great comedian in a high-concept rom-com can’t guarantee success. Just ask Amy Schumer. After blowing up with Trainwreck ($110 million) in 2015, everyone expected the suddenly A-list lady to carry that same momentum going forward. Since Schumer also wrote the movie, it’s success was almost entirely based on her participation. That meant any new movie with her should see similar results. In Dakota Johnson’s case, Fifty Shades is based off a book so that success was less about her and not expected to really follow that actress around afterwards, though her inclusion in a movie certainly increases its marketability. In any case, Schumer’s riches stopped with Trainwreck and her subsequent movies didn’t make nearly as much. 2017’s Snatched boasted a co-starring role with Goldie Hawn but only earned $46 million, while 2018’s I Feel Pretty focused back on Schumer with a lovely high-concept comedic twist that earned about the same with $49 million.
The thing is, I really enjoyed I Feel Pretty and thought it deserved much better. I know I have a type and that means I’m biased, but I am obsessed with the likes of Schumer, Rebel Wilson and Melissa McCarthy, whose 2018 comedy Life of the Party earned a similar $53 million. All these ladies are so similar with their $47-53 million regular range of earnings but why? Sure, they’re all big… personalities. Huge, even, and I am completely entranced by them. I hate this nonsense that they are considered plus-sized because they have all had stunning reveals in their movies. It’s inspiring, really, that they are so bold and brave in their comedy, yet a small pimple on my face makes me want to hide in the house for a month. They deserve great fame and fortune, and certainly more than the standard $17-20 million debut and $50 million total that this group of women deliver. Then again, I suppose it’s really about about perspective.
#4) LOVE AND HONOR (2013)
I don’t know what’s sadder: the fact that we have no problem putting a woman down for helping a movie make $50 million or that nobody makes a peep when a man can’t make $50,000. Sorry, I meant $20,000. Yes, that’s right, $20K. Or $19,684 to be exact. Yeah, so after Liam Hemsworth got lucky in the The Hunger Games franchise, he skyrocketed to fame and has done nothing with it since. In 2010 he somehow scored the male lead in Miley Cyrus’s The Last Song ($63 million), which helped him find a future wife and also a film credit worthy enough to help him become one of the romantic love interests in the Hunger Games series ($282-425 million each). After using a few women to help create a career, the handsome Hemsworth (brother of Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth), Liam went on to do Love and Honor ($20K), Empire State ($0. Yes, $0), Paranoia ($7 million), The Dressmaker ($2 million), Independence Day: Resurgence ($103 million, despite the original making $306 million), and The Duel (again, $0).
So, yeah, Liam used a few women to get famous and then followed that up with a direct-to-DVD catalog of garbage. And yet, somehow, I get the feeling people expect Rebel Wilson to feel lucky that she landed a Hemsworth as a co-star love interest and, poor Liam, he’s stuck in a movie that only makes $50 million because funny women aren’t worth more than that. Perception, my friends. Last year five men (Jeremy Renner, Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, Jon Hamm and Hannibal Buress) could only carry their comedy Tag to $55 million and everyone chalked that up to “comedies don’t do well anymore”, yet Rebel Wilson will be seen as a fading star when her film limps to $50 million. All I’m saying is that if Isn’t It Romantic can top $45 million, it should be seen as a success and a testament to the greatness that are the independent women (Wilson, Schumer, McCarthy) against the men that get away with failures of their own. Rebel isn’t lucky to land a Hemsworth; it’s Hemsworth that’s lucky to have Rebel.
#5) PRETTY WOMAN (1990)
Ok, so man-hating aside, I’m super excited to see Isn’t It Romantic because I love romance, comedy, Rebel Wilson, high-concept hijinks and VALENTINE’S DAY!!! Oh, love, you sultry mistress. In my eager anticipation for this new movie, I noticed a commercial for it that features the song “Pretty Woman,” which is (oddly enough) from the seminal classic Pretty Woman. I mean, it helped define the romantic comedy genre that Isn’t It Romantic is trying to deconstruct, yet the new movie is trying to summon memories of that older blockbuster to help build interest. I can’t say I blame them but I would have gone in a different direction.
Maybe we shouldn’t call back to older movies and should embrace being current. Looking at the past does nothing but make us question the present. Pretty Woman made $178 million in 1990, but now that the song made us look back I want to delve deeper. $178 million in 1990 is over $380 million in 2019 dollars, but that doesn’t matter now. We don’t live in the 90’s when romantic comedies dominated. We live in 2019 when only Disney makes blockbuster bucks and everyone else is lucky to make any money in theaters before actually being discovered a few month later on a streaming service. Why get mad at the present for being different when all we were ever meant to do is analyze current trends? Yeah, LEGO Movie 2 tanked and that’s worrisome for Hollywood, but isn’t it also thrilling?! Times are changing and that’s scary, but BOP is here to help guide you through the ever-changing landscape of moviegoing.
For now, a $15-20 million debut and a $45-55 million total for Isn’t It Romantic isn’t anything to worry about, as it remains consistent with what the genre and similar actresses are pulling in these days. Anything less can be attributed to the downward spiral of audience interest in paying full price for a movie and making anything more means it’s a smash hit. Regardless of what happens, I’ll be sad to see any negativity fall upon my darling Rebel Wilson. Just remember, for every “Rebel can’t carry a film,” I will challenge you with a, “Name one success Liam Hemsworth is responsible for.” Really, though, this finger pointing has to stop, at least for this weekend. It’s Valentine’s Day, people, and the only thing we should have room for is love.