What happened to the once dependable romantic comedy genre? Hollywood executives have all but given up on what was once a studio staple, and 2017’s collection of rom-coms is one of the weakest in years. The main problem is the lack of a bankable star who’s guaranteed to drive traffic to a romantic comedy in the way Sandra Bullock or Julia Roberts used to be able to do. There’s also been a decline in high school coming-of-age romantic comedies that were so popular in the ’80s and ’90s, and that decline accounts for part of the decrease in the number of rom-coms hitting theaters over the past decade. However, everything cycles around so there’s still hope for the genre’s eventual return to favor.
Here’s a look ahead at romantic comedies heading to theaters in 2017, listed in alphabetical order. (Some may be bumped into 2018 and others might wind up going straight to video, and most don’t have a confirmed release date.)
2017 Romantic Comedies:
Basmati Blues starring Brie Larson, Scott Bakula, and Donald Sutherland
The Plot: Basmati Blues is a Bollywood musical romantic comedy centering around a scientist who is sent to India to sell the rice she genetically modified.
The Big Sick starring Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, and Anupam Kher
The Plot: Based on the real-life courtship: Pakistan-born comedian Kumail and grad student Emily fall in love, but they struggle as their cultures clash. When Emily contracts a mysterious illness, Kumail must navigate the crisis with her parents and the emotional tug-of-war between his family and his heart.
Byrd and the Bees starring Tracy Spiridakos, Jordan Fry, Jason Connery, Ross McCall, and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
The Plot: If you think writing a Fairy Tale is hard, try living one… Emotionally bruised from a painful breakup, aspiring romance novelist Rebecca Byrd is further rattled when she learns that her father, whom she thought was an anonymous donor at a sperm bank, is alive and well and living in Scotland, where he is the laird of a large estate. Rebecca, who is longing for a change, heads off to the “land of her people” — and is quickly plunged into her own unlikely romance — an escapade with more twists and turns than a Scottish country road.
Rebecca’s adventure begins when a swarm of stolen bees sends her careening into the arms of GAVIN, a sweetly handsome Scottish man who just may be the true love she’s always longed for. However, Gavin’s startling connection to Rebecca’s past may put the kibosh on their romance before it has even started…
Class Rank starring Bruce Dern, Kristin Chenoweth, Olivia Holt, and Skyler Gisondo
The Plot: Directed by Eric Stoltz, Class Rank is an offbeat comedy that follows two teenagers and two grandparents whose worlds are upended when love walks in the door.
Finding Your Feet starring Imelda Staunton, Timothy Spall, Celia Imrie, and Joanna Lumley
The Plot: On the eve of retirement a middle class, judgmental snob discovers her husband has been having an affair with her best friend and is forced into exile with her bohemian sister who lives on an impoverished inner-city council estate.
Grace starring Tate Donovan, Katie Cassidy, Missi Pyle, and Matthew Lillard
The Plot: According to IMDB, the dark romantic comedy follows a once-famous writer who’s introduced to a woman who’s supposed to help him get over his writers block.
How to Talk to Girls at Parties starring Elle Fanning, Alex Sharp, Nicole Kidman, and Ruth Wilson
The Plot: John Cameron Mitchell, director of the acclaimed films Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Shortbus, takes us to an exotic and unusual world: suburban London in the late 70s. Under the spell of the Sex Pistols, every teenager in the country wants to be a punk, including our hopeless hero Enn (Sharp). Crashing local punk queen Boadicea’s party, Enn discovers every boy’s dream – gorgeous foreign exchange students. When he meets the enigmatic Zan (Fanning), it’s love at first sight.
But these teens are, in fact, aliens from outer space, sent to Earth to prepare for a mysterious rite of passage. When their dark secret is revealed, the love-struck Enn must turn to Boadicea (Kidman) and her followers for help in order to save the girl he loves from certain death. When the punks take on the aliens, neither Enn’s nor Zan’s universe will ever be the same again.
Permission starring Dan Stevens and Rebecca Hall, Gina Gershon, and Jason Sudeikis
The Plot: Permission focuses on a couple, Anna (Hall) and Will (Stevens), who were each other’s first every-things: first kiss, first love, first relationship. Now years on, at Anna’s thirtieth birthday party as Will is about to propose, the couple’s best friend stands up and makes a drunken toast, suggesting that as their relationship is so functional, equitable and stable, it’s threatening to their friends and perhaps they should sleep around before their inevitable marriage. The joke lingers and eventually Anna proposes that they try it, as a sexual experiment. As a couple, with complicity, they venture out of the purely monogamous boundaries of their relationship and in so doing are forced to evolve and grow up.
#Roxy starring Booboo Stewart, Jake Short, Danny Trejo, and Sarah Fisher
The Plot: At Bergerac High, computer genius Cyrus Nollen’s giant nose is no secret, but his lifetime love for childhood friend Roxy Rostand is. So it happens that his heart is crushed when Roxy asks him to help her connect with the handsome Christian Newville. Because he can’t say no, soon Cyrus is living vicariously as Christian, leveraging Roxy’s passion for classic literature and enchanting her with a lifetime of unspent romance via text and all manner of social media. If it weren’t for the fact that the virtual dream-boy created by Cyrus doesn’t actually exist, it would be perfect. Cyrus Nollen is Cyrano de Bergerac for the cyber age.
The Wedding Invitation starring Rainy Kerwin, Camille Guaty, Christina Ulloa, Eoin Macken, Nick George, and Alex Sanborn
The Plot: The Wedding Invitation is the story of three best friends and their plight to get dates to the wedding of a lifetime. They have one week to track down their crushes and turn them into plus-ones. Their mission, splattered with drunken-dry-heaving, walk-of-shame moments will require them to break all of the dating rules to make it happen. It’s awkward and embarrassing and cringe-worthy and slightly raunchy, but with a dose of courage, the support of their girlfriends, and a few shots of tequila… anything’s possible.
Also in Theaters in 2017: