One can argue whether or not "Benjamin Button" will fall into that "romantic movie" category, since the story will have a dark twist that sets it quite apart from any "Happily Ever After" flick. Nonetheless what the movie primarily will be about is matters of the heart and the conflicts and strivings of love. And this is where trouble begins.
It hasn't been since "Titanic", ten years ago, that a romantic movie ruled the year's most successful films, and ever since one could see a steady decrease in audience interest in big-screen romantic topics. Whether you find this TIME article to be true or not (I personally find it pessimistic) it examines some interesting notions of how our love lives and our cinematic needs for love and romance may have changed in the last few years -- and the trappings this holds for filmmakers who attempt the kind.
Towards the end of the article there's a mention of business practice of revenue splits between the studios and cinema owners. I personally have never heard the likes of this and have learned the revenue system to be quite different. The article states that studios get a surprising 90% of the profits during the opening week, while this percentage decreases with every following week, more towards an even split between studios, cinema owners and popcorn sellers. And since romantic films are traditionally slow money makers this means the studio will either not make that much money at all or make it very slow -- both of which they don't like.
The bottom line of this discussion is that with shifted audience focus it gets increasingly harder to return your investment in a romantic movie. Which, in case of "The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button" will be a stunning 150.000.000 bucks.
On the other hand, since I am an optimist and a devoted and convinced fan of David Fincher's work: Maybe it's about time for the big break? Maybe it's about time, for both romantic movies and David Fincher to parallel the unimaginable success of "Titanic". And with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett and a really unique and remarkable story -- this may just happen!
Now head on to read the article already:
Who Killed the Love Story? -- TIME