a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Friday, October 07, 2005

Five Years Ago This Month

Because it proved interesting when I did it last month, I figured I'd look back into my records, and see how many scripts/books that I read in October 2000 actually made it into movies.

(And again, keep in mind that because I'm mostly reading stuff that comes from agents and producers, the percentages are going to be much, much higher than if I was reading slushpile stuff).

That month, I read 13 books and 56 scripts, and a solid 5 were made into movies. One was "Tortilla Soup", which was a remake of Ang Lee's "Eat Drink Man Woman". Another was "Rent", which is coming out soon.

The other three were horror movies, so I guess it is true; October isn't only a good month for releasing them, but for sending them around as well. None were specs; all were based on previous properties (two video games, one long-running movie series). The first two were "Resident Evil" (which wasn't a bad read, as I remember, though I never saw the film) and the last "Halloween" movie, the one with the Internet broadcast, which I thought needed a lot of work at the script stage, which it didn't get.

The third was "House of the Dead", which I have absolutely no memory of reading. So I dug up my coverage, to see if I actually read this violent b-movie that I had no interest in seeing, afraid that I might actually have liked it (not that I'm averse to liking violent b-movies, if they work well).

Yeah, I read. No, I didn't like it. (It was ultimately released by a different company than the one I read it for).

Otherwise, nothing really jumps out at all for the things that didn't get made, though one was the book about Pete Rose and A. Bartlett Giametti, which might have fed a cable TV movie somewhere. Another was a movie about writer H.P. Lovecraft, which was a pretty good script (at least according to my coverage; my brain doesn't come close to holding memories of everything I read). It was a writing sample, so the script had probably been optioned somewhere, though the movie never came out, as far as I know. I've read a couple of good Edgar Allan Poe scripts in the past, and someday someone is going to make a good Poe movie.

Another was about playwright Moliere, which didn't really work; though I have read scripts about a lot of writers/musicians/classical composers, some of these people were simply guys whose lives just weren't all that interesting, while too many of the other biopics just familiarly fall into the generic genius/alcoholic (or drug addict)/womanizer/died young template, which seems to make for bland, paint-by-numbers stories more often than fascinating ones.

Otherwise, a random check of some of the other titles just reveals a lot of mediocrity; ideas that weren't all that solid, that weren't executed all that well either, but are still being sent around in hopes that someone will spark to them.

So if you think that there's a thick layer of unproduced great scripts going out every month, it's not really happening.


At 1:49 PM, Blogger PJ McIlvaine said...

Only a scant few were made from my pile. TSOTSI, SERENDIPITY, PEARL HARBOR, that drama about the attempted assassination of Richard Nixon, oh, and that cheesey comedy that ran on MTV, the spoof on rock groups, O something I think.

At 4:59 PM, Blogger Danny Stack said...

Just did a quick check on Oct 2003 (pc crash lost files before this, shame) and two were made, Guy X & Barry.

At 5:29 PM, Blogger sretherf said...

Writers are either setting out to write for commercial reasons or they are genuinely trying to write something good, but just can't seem to avoid being unoriginal or just plain bad writing. I'd be interested to know how many of the slice-of-life variety ever get sent your way. And if any were good/do you/did you like these types of stories?

At 5:36 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

I like them when they are well-done, but the only way they ever seem to get made is either low-budget or with a big star, like Nicholson doing About Schmidt. Though the success of character movies like Sideways or Garden State bodes well for the genre.

At 7:30 PM, Blogger sretherf said...

I like to work with a little of that, but I usually have a good deal of plot dynamics as well to make sure it's entertaining enough. But what you get, hopefully, is a personal touch to the movie. Pretty soon, I want to try action w/ the same kind of treatment. I've got an idea brewing. As far as comedy, I've just never really gotten the urge... but then most of the time there is an element of comedy in there anyway.

Sometimes I wonder if writers are looking at all the possiblities or are they just trying to make a few quick bucks.....

At 7:02 AM, Anonymous Bryan N. said...

There's a Poe movie in development with Robert Downey, Jr. attached simply called Poe.

At 7:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'someday someone is going to make a good Poe movie'...the Stallone penned one has been greenlit, but I am wondering if it was a direct sale or did his script make the rounds?


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