ASYMCO: Hollywood by the numbers
... Drama / Comedy vs. Adventure / Fantasy: Why the Ancient Greeks had it all wrong
Storytelling has not changed throughout history. The same types of stories affect audiences the same way since stories were first told. The earliest known “genres” were tragedy and comedy and they are still seen as the bedrock of theater today. The same is true for movies. The following bar chart shows the distribution of genres as cited by movies over our data set.
Drama and comedy are about 50% of all movies made. If we add romance they are 60% of cited genres. This is understandable given the history of theater. However the profitability (or revenue potential) of those genres is not as strong as Action, Adventure and Fantasy. The following chart shows the same count of genre citation but only for movies grossing over $200 million (which we chose to call “blockbusters”).
Action, adventure and fantasy handily beat Comedy and even SciFi beats drama. Romance, musicals and and mystery genres typically associated with female audiences are very rarely successful as blockbusters. The overall data is shown in the following table. The rows represent gross revenues and the columns genres cited ranked in order of frequency. One can easily observe the density of low earning drama and comedy (grey colored) vs. the more lucrative instances of fantasy and adventure. These male-dominated genres have consistent success into middle, high and very high revenue tiers. ...
... The reason for this blockbuster attention to action and adventure is probably the prevailing theater-going audience demographic: adolescent males. The industry still produces the classic genres but less profitably than what the current targeted markets.
Indeed, these genres were very uncommon in eras predating the late 1970s. More “adult-oriented” movies like romance (Gone with the Wind), musicals (The Sound of Music) and epic movies (Ben Hur, The Ten Comandments) were common in the “golden age” of Hollywood. As we’ll see in the next section, the age of the audience is a now driving more than just genre selection. ...
Check out the whole article. It's an interesting window into the movie industry.