Everyone’s a Comedian: Why Hollywood Is Struggling to Bring Comedies Back to Theaters

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Audiences are already filling their funny quota from action fantasies, horror flicks and animated capers — so why settle for an old-fashioned, star-driven knee-slapper?

Images from some of the comedies coming to theaters in 2023
Images from 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,' 'TMNT: Mutant Mayhem," M3GAN,' 'Mafia Momma,' 'No Hard Feelings' and 'Joy Ride'

“Who are we going to trick into making our bats–t movie?”

That’s the question Adele Lim said she faced as she and her partners puzzled over how to get their travel comedy “Joy Ride” made. The answer, the “Crazy Rich Asians” writer said at the movie’s SXSW premiere, where her film got a warm reception, turned out to be Lionsgate. “Joy Ride” — which follows a young Asian woman who travels to China with her friends on a business trip — became a highlight at Lionsgate’s CinemaCon presentation in April.

After years of seeming to fear the funny, Hollywood studios like Lionsgate are making a concerted effort to bring live-action comedies back to theaters.