There are two movies and one television show in the works that are all called Friends With Benefits. (To be fair, the one starring Natalie Portman used to be called Fuckbuddies.) But what's with the obsession with this arrangement?
Justin Timberlake just signed up to make a romantic comedy with that title, which Deadline Hollywood Daily describes as follows:
A headhunter recruits a magazine editor and since each is too busy to find a mate, they agree to sleep together with no strings attached. Things get complicated when the guy falls for the girl, who's dating someone else.
Then there's Ivan Reitman's romantic comedy, the making of which appeared to have involved at least two dubious premises: that Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher will have winning chemistry, and that you could get away with calling your Hollywood movie Fuckbuddies (though it certainly is to the point). Having abandoned the latter proposition, the name has been changed to... Friends With Benefits.
Meanwhile, the writers that brought us (500) Days of Summer wrote a pilot about "about five friends who bed-hop while looking for true love" that was greenlit by NBC — also called Friends With Benefits.
What lessons can we draw from this? (Besides the perennial, "Hollywood is out of ideas?") Sounds like studios have read too many trend stories about the demise of dating and the rise of hookup culture. But is this really a thing? And, given that everyone around here is pretty sick of the current formula, what should Hollywood be making romantic comedies about?