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Realistically I'm not sure if you can count the ‘first' ever romance movie as a bonafide film. It was called The May Irwin Kiss and it was only 18-seconds long. It was the 1890s so was a huge sensation at the time but it's fair to say that romance movies and shows have come a long way since then.

First performed in 1597, a movie adaptation of the Romeo and Juliet opera was first aired in 1900. Considered one of the first synchronized sound films, it is also one of the first romance movies. After all, aside from the mutually destructive death of the characters, the story of their love is considered one of the most romantic of all time.

And that's the thing about Romance movies. They very rarely stand on their own. If you go to watch an Action movie – you get action. Go and see a comedy and you hope to laugh the hours away. However, with Romance movies, there is almost certainly another element to give the movie some oomph. A prime example is Titanic. One of the highest-grossing movies of all time ($2.19 billion), it is also a historical film and a drama. Sure, the love story holds it all together but it is still underpinned by other sub-stories related to the time that gives it that extra gravitas.

Likewise with The Twilight Saga. First airing in 2008, the franchise spawned five movies, which were made for a combined $401 million before collecting over $3.346 billion at the box office. And yes, it's a love story but it also features, vampires, werewolves with plenty of action and drama.



The reality is that for pure unadulterated romance movies, you don't need to look much further than Hallmark for the formula. Girl leaves small town and high school sweetheart behind in search of a career in the big city. Girl returns to hometown years later, rekindles romance, and decides that life at the farm/beach/ranch/inn is the one for her. They kiss. The movie ends. It's simple but it's also candyfloss for the brain. Great on a rainy day but it's not going to have you glued to the tv.

So these days, streaming platforms are trying to create Romance movies that have a little edge to them. The likes of The Kissing Booth and To All The Boys have become instant and huge hits for Netflix but they are also aimed at the teen market. Nicholas Sparks movies are also beloved but require you to have a box of tissues at the ready for the inevitable heart-wrenching death of a main character. So what we are left with is the tried and tested RomCom.

Romantic Comedy is defined as “a movie that deals with love in a light, humorous way”. As the decades have rolled on we have moved away from needing a ‘happy ever after' and instead prefer those injected with a dose of reality. The format is simple. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back, or of course the other way around! Or boy meets boy, or girl meets girl – basically two people who can't get their act together, overcome a few bumps on the road to love before finding their way back to each other but with a few laughs thrown in.

If a director can get the blend right, the cash just rolls in. The 1990s saw a boom in romcoms. Hopeless romantics flocked to the cinema to see hits such as Clueless (1995), Pretty Woman (1990), Sleepless in Seattle (1993), Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), Can’t Hardly Wait (1998), Runaway Bride (1999), Notting Hill (1999) and Never Been Kissed (1999). Basically, Julia Roberts was the queen of 90s romcoms!

As the trend continued into the 2000s, My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) became the highest-grossing movie in the genre raking in $368,744,044. It was soon followed by Sweet Home Alabama (2002), Hitch (2005), and The Proposal (2009) the difference being much more feisty leading ladies who weren't so quick to fall at the feet of the first man to come along. So the evolution is there and that takes us to the romcoms out today.

The characters are more evolved, the problems are a little deeper and the path to true love doesn't always run smoothly. We still mostly get the happily ever after, it's just a little bit more realistic along the way.



Disney+ has a large collection of new and classic romance films. Here you can see the highest rated content from the streaming service.

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AppleTV has a large collection of new and classic romance films. Here you can see the highest rated content from the streaming service.



Paramount+ has a large collection of new and classic romance films. Here you can see the highest rated content from the streaming service.

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