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Can big-screen comedy survive the superhero era?

Associated Press logo Associated Press 7/12/2017 By JAKE COYLE, AP Film Writer
This image released by Warner Bros Pictures shows Will Ferrell, left, and Amy Poehler in a scene from, "The House." The film opened with just $8.7 million, the latest in an increasingly long line of comedy flops at the box office. (Warner Bros. Entertainment via AP) © The Associated Press This image released by Warner Bros Pictures shows Will Ferrell, left, and Amy Poehler in a scene from, "The House." The film opened with just $8.7 million, the latest in an increasingly long line of comedy flops at the box office. (Warner Bros. Entertainment via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — Unless an unexpected breakout is lurking, this summer will likely pass without a major big-screen comedy hit.

This image released by Sony Pictures shows Zoe Kravitz, from left, Jillian Bell, Scarlett Johansson, Ilana Glazer and Kate McKinnon in a scene from "Rough Night." Unless the upcoming “Girls Trip” _ promoted as the black, female version of “The Hangover” _ breaks out, this summer will likely pass without a big comedy hit. “Rough Night,” “Baywatch” and “Snatched” have all disappointed despite the star power of Scarlett Johansson, Dwayne Johnson and Amy Schumer, respectively. (Macall Polay/Sony, Columbia Pictures via AP) © The Associated Press This image released by Sony Pictures shows Zoe Kravitz, from left, Jillian Bell, Scarlett Johansson, Ilana Glazer and Kate McKinnon in a scene from "Rough Night." Unless the upcoming “Girls Trip” _ promoted as the black, female version of “The Hangover” _ breaks out, this summer will likely pass without a big comedy hit. “Rough Night,” “Baywatch” and “Snatched” have all disappointed despite the star power of Scarlett Johansson, Dwayne Johnson and Amy Schumer, respectively. (Macall Polay/Sony, Columbia Pictures via AP)

"The House," ''Rough Night," ''Baywatch" and "Snatched" have all disappointed despite the star power of Will Ferrell, Scarlett Johansson, Dwayne Johnson and Amy Schumer, respectively. Laughs are drying up at the multiplex, and it's a trend that goes beyond this summer.

This image released by Lionsgate shows Kumail Nanjiani, right, and Zoe Kazan in a scene from, "The Big Sick." The Kumail Nanjiani-led, Judd Apatow produced film made $6.8 million in three weeks of limited release. (Lionsgate via AP) © The Associated Press This image released by Lionsgate shows Kumail Nanjiani, right, and Zoe Kazan in a scene from, "The Big Sick." The Kumail Nanjiani-led, Judd Apatow produced film made $6.8 million in three weeks of limited release. (Lionsgate via AP)

The downturn begs the question: Can the big-screen comedy survive the superhero era? As studios have increasingly focused on franchises that play around the globe, comedies are getting squeezed.

Many of the top names in comedy describe an unmistakable sense that the era of "Superbad," ''Pineapple Express" and "Step Brothers" may be closing — and that an increasingly restrictive Hollywood landscape is partly to blame.

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