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Netflix, leading the rom-com revival?



If Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery were to magically reappear today (hey, perhaps Bob's daughter Elizabeth could do some Samantha-style conjuring!) and they sought to make another romantic comedy a la "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," you might want to point them in the direction of Albuquerque.





The New Mexico capital's ABQ Studios, opened 11 years ago, was recently purchased by Netflix as a production hub (https://variety.com/2018/digital/news/netflix-albuquerque-studios-deal-terms-30-million-1202981274/), complementing studio space it has in Hollywood (near the old Warners studios on Sunset Boulevard, the longtime home of pioneer TV station KTLA). It's no stranger to films or TV; recent fare shot there includes "Breaking Bad," its semi-prequel "Better Call Saul" and "Godless."

But in recent months, the streaming colossus has branched out into other genres, including one Lombard would be close to -- romantic comedy (https://www.avclub.com/why-did-millions-of-netflix-subscribers-watch-rom-coms-1829325035). In June, Netflix began running a group of nine original features it called the "Summer of Love," rom-coms a bit more adventurous than their equivalents would be on Lifetime or the Hallmark Channel. They included the well-received "Set It Up," featuring a more ethnically inclusive cast than most recent film or cable rom-coms:



According to an earnings report, more than 80 million subscribers (Netflix's U.S. subscription base is 118 million) viewed at least one of the "Summer of Love" films, proving the rom-com -- left for dead by analysts a few years ago -- may be on its way back after a decade in the doldrums. (The three-week run of "Crazy Rich Asians" atop the American box office also is proof a good romantic comedy can deliver an audience.)

A Netflix official said, "We noticed that people have watched a lot and enjoyed a lot of romances and rom-coms over the years, and we just noticed also that people were not making them, that they were not in the multiplex...we thought that it would be a good idea to jump into that world."

This screenwriter -- with two completed romantic comedies under his belt -- looks forward to more explorations of that world, featuring our generation's equivalents of Lombard and Myrna Loy.

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