The death, and possible rebirth, of Nancy Meyers' new rom-com

Nancy Meyers
Nancy Meyers Vera Anderson/WireImage
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Someone's gotta give Nancy Meyers money to make her new rom-com, but it won't be Netflix.

Meyers, the filmmaker behind hit romantic comedies like Something's Gotta Give and It's Complicated, was all set to make a big return to the genre at Netflix after an almost 10-year absence. Netflix confirmed last year she would write, direct, and produce a new rom-com for the streamer after not directing a film since 2015's The Intern.

But it all came crashing down this month, with reports of a budget standoff quickly followed by news that Netflix has pulled the plug. After being dumped by the streamer, though, Meyers could be rebounding.

Why did Nancy Meyers' new movie get canceled at Netflix?

The drama started when Puck's Matthew Belloni reported in his "What I'm Hearing" newsletter that there was a budget dispute happening behind the scenes of Meyers' Netflix movie.

The streamer greenlit the film at a budget of around $130 million, Puck reported, which was already rather high for a romantic comedy. But the report said Meyers' team at the agency CAA "went back to Netflix and claimed it would be hard to make the movie for less than $150 million." Netflix reportedly rejected this request, so Puck said the budget was staying at around $130 million.

Just over a week later, though, Deadline reported that Netflix has pulled the plug on the movie entirely. According to this report, Meyers was still "refusing to budge" on the budget being raised to $150 million, while Netflix was still unwilling to go that high, so the streamer walked away.

Meyers' film is reportedly called Paris Paramount, and it's a "semi-autobiographical story about Hollywood exes who end up working together," Variety says. It would seemingly be inspired by her marriage to director Charles Shyer, and Scarlett Johansson, Penélope Cruz, Owen Wilson, and Michael Fassbender were said to be in talks to star.

News of the film's cancellation sparked backlash among Meyers' fans. On Twitter, critic Courtney Howard suggested the fact that Netflix won't give her the budget she requested after providing "free reign" to male directors like Martin Scorsese (The Irishman) and Michael Bay (6 Underground) "says a lot about who they do & do not consider auteurs." The Atlantic's David Sims, meanwhile, tweeted, "GIVE HER HER F--KING MONEY."

Others, though, suggested Meyers' request for a $150 million budget was unreasonable. "This was not just a huge number — it was an insane, unthinkable, unrealistic sum," Chapman University film school dean Stephen Galloway told the Los Angeles Times. This budget "could have made it the most expensive romantic comedy of all time," The Hollywood Reporter noted.

Meyers' last five films — The Intern, It's Complicated, The Holiday, Something's Gotta Give, and What Women Want — grossed over $1 billion collectively at the box office. Since then, romantic comedies have generally been struggling in theaters, as have studio comedies in general, as more and more audiences wait for streaming on anything that's not a franchise or horror film. But the genre has fared better on streaming, including with Netflix hits like The Kissing Booth, To All the Boys I've Loved Before, and the recent Your Place or Mine.

Why is the budget so high, and what's next for the project?

So why does a movie like Paris Paramount need a $130 million budget, let alone $150 million? Well, Deadline reported that $80 million was set to go to above-the-line costs, providing big paydays for the film's talent.

In a follow-up report, Puck's Matthew Belloni argued the "larger culprit here" is Netflix's tendency to pay handsomely up front "as if the movie is a hit" to compete with traditional film studios. As Netflix takes dramatic steps to boost revenue and cut costs, this has become more of a risk. Were Paris Paramount to be released by a traditional film studio, Belloni explained, the budget could be lower because the studio would be able to offer different kinds of compensation like box office bonuses, rather than paying so much up front. Because Netflix largely doesn't release its films in theaters, though, it has had to make up for a lack of box office bonuses with huge upfront fees if it wants to do business with A-list actors and directors.

But Meyers' project could already be circling a new home, as The Hollywood Reporter says Warner Bros. is looking to potentially pick it up, and "exploratory talks" are now underway. It would be a surprising destination given Warner Bros. Discovery has also been seeking to aggressively cut costs, including by canceling a nearly completed Batgirl movie last year for a tax write-off and pulling shows like Westworld off of HBO Max to save money on residuals. But Puck reports the studio would be paying a "lower upfront price" than Netflix.

It's possible these Warner Bros. talks could fall apart, too. But for now, the dream of seeing what kind of kitchen Meyers can put together with $150 million isn't dead yet.

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