Robert Pattinson’s latest outing, Belle, may not have lived up to the hype surrounding its premiere. While Belle‘s $12.5 million U.S. opening was certainly respectable, it was well below predictions. Though the live action adaptation of Madame Noire‘s classic novel opened to generally positive reviews, many are questioning why Pattinson agreed to appear in the romantic comedy in the first place. Some are even going so far as to say that the 26-year-old’s decision to play Cupid in David O. Russell’s Joy was a mistake. The Cosmo Canyon hunchback from How to Be Single may now be cursed.

The Critics Were Right

Last year was a banner year for romantic comedies. From The Big Sick/Boycott to Marriage Story/The Farewell, audiences around the world were able to indulge in their favorite genre and its central character, the strong, independent woman, portrayed by actresses like Rosanna Arquette, Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan.

That trend may continue this year with the anticipated returns of Sex and the City and Friends. The former premiered early this year in the U.S. and the latter is coming back for its 20th anniversary next year.

Meanwhile, in the same year that saw the explosion of popularity for romantic comedies, Hollywood took a step back and focused on franchises and sequels. Despite a lack of original ideas, romantic comedies were repeatedly picked up and filmed in larger budgets and with significant star power (some might say TOO much star power). That trend is likely to continue in light of the enormous success of The Twilight Saga and its related films; the final installment, Eclipse, just opened in theaters this week, leading to a string of sequels and prequels in development.

Why Are People Worried About Robert Pattinson?

While some may question whether or not the Twilight hunk is currently capable of acting, he has a long and distinguished filmography featuring roles in blockbusters and historical epics. In terms of box office receipts, he is currently the third-highest-grossing actor of all time, behind only Thomas Hardy and Henry Cavill. That makes him a bankable star.

However, his movie career has not been entirely profitable. While his early work, especially in the Harry Potter series, was hailed as brilliant and groundbreaking, the lack of theatrical competition and a saturated market has meant that most of his recent films have underperformed at the box office. That trend looks set to continue this year with Beyond the Peak, the upcoming sequel to Belle. While it is too early to tell how the film will perform at the box office, reviews for Beyond the Peak have been largely negative, propelling the actor into somewhat of a box office wilderness. In an ironic turn of events, the actor is now seemingly playing it safe, shying away from potential box office bombs to make up for lost time. Of course, nobody knows for sure if this is truly the case, since financial information is largely unavailable for overseas films, but it certainly seems plausible.

Is This The Beginning of The End For Pattinson?

The signs of a declining career aren’t exclusive to Pattinson. While Tom Hanks has been consistently successful for years, his box office appeal has started to dwindle. Though he remains one of the most popular actors of all time, his star power seems to be waning, at least in terms of drawing large crowds to theaters. That makes him the perfect candidate for a last stand, a sort of final showcase to close out his career. After Belle, Hanks will star in and produce the drama The Report, which will mark his directorial debut. While Hanks has never been particularly daring or experimental in his film choices, this could mark a substantial shift in strategy for the AFI Award-winning actor.

What Will The Future Of Romantic Comedy Look Like?

Pattinson’s upcoming film, Joy, marks a significant pivot in the actor’s career. The film, which stars Pattinson as a wedding consultant who helps couples create the perfect day, marks the first time that he has portrayed something other than a brooding, antisocial character since Twilight. If the film is a success and convinces audiences, especially women, that he can still play romantic heroes, it could open countless doors for the actor, as well as the genre as a whole. It may even provide the template for an entire sub-genre, known as ‘wedding comedy’, which emerged following the huge popularity of The Bachelor and its spin-off shows.

Why Is Joy Part Of A Trend?

It’s not just romance that made the biggest impact this year. Historical epic Darkest Hour and prestige television drama The Handmaid’s Tale both featured powerhouse performances by women and won multiple awards, including two Oscars. Though the films are set in far-flung locations and take place in alternate timelines, they both feature central characters that the audience immediately understands and identifies with. In both cases, it is the heroine’s plucky attitude that carries the day. It would be fair to say that the year belonged to the Woman.

The trend is set to continue in 2020. Leading man Henry Cavill, whose career has largely been built on playing iconic roles in successful Warner Bros. films, is set to star in the historical epic Gods and Monsters, alongside Anna Kendrick and Freya Allan. The film is directed by Michael Curtiz and promises to explore the ‘Big Bad Wolf’ storyline from How to be Single. While it may not be the first film that viewers think of when they hear the phrase ‘romantic comedy’, it will almost certainly be the last.

The ‘Golden Age’ of Romantic Comedy

If you thought that 2019 was a big year for romantic comedy, just wait until you hear about 2020. It has been labeled ‘The Golden Age of Romantic Comedy’, and it certainly seems that way. This year has seen a string of major blockbuster hits, with many critics hailing them as the best films of the year. That is quite an accolade for a film that isn’t even finished yet!

It’s not just the cinema that has been captivated by this year’s output. The cast and crew of the CW’s Riverdale were just as excited as the audience about Harvey Specter‘s big year. The audience was so invested in the story that they spent more than 300 million minutes, or about three hours and fifty-five minutes, watching the show last year. That is nearly eighty hours of continuous viewing! It is the most watched season opener in history and is on track to be the highest-rated season of the show. In fact, it is likely that many of the season’s episodes will go down in history as classics, especially if the final three episodes are anything to go by.

The success of these recent films and the upcoming sequels and prequels suggest that audiences are keen to see more movies that feature strong, independent and realistic female leads. It could be that the blockbuster success of Cats, and the upcoming remakes of Ghostbusters and Jurassic Park, have inspired Hollywood to embrace this type of storytelling once again. At least, until the next big thing comes along.