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

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

We're in a Strike World Now

So the writers' strike officially started yesterday, and apparently over 3000 WGA members hit the picket lines, aided by a lot of SAG actors as well.

On of the better websites to keep up with what is happening is Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood Daily. She updates it regularly, so even when she posts rumors that turn out to be untrue, they soon get corrected.

Given the often-skewed reporting by the news media (way too much of which is owned by the same conglomerates that own the studio) which tends to paint the writers as being greedy, it was nice to see that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards all came out in support of the striking writers yesterday.

Though I'm not a WGA member, I plan to hit the picket lines sometime this week. More on that when it happens.


So I brought the first chunk (22 pages) of the comedy I am writing with the friend into my screenwriting group last night, and it didn't go well.

Though, from another perspective, it went great. Because though it's always nice to believe that a piece of work is going to be perfect, this one has huge flaws (and hell, we wrote most of it over the weekend), and the notes from my fellow writers are going to go a long way in addressing the problems.

The basic flaw was because of a decision I made. The world of this script (he said vaguely) has characters early on speaking another language, but because I didn't want there to be 10 pages of subtitles right off the bat, I came up with a logical way for them to be speaking English throughout.

Language problem solved, but unfortunately that single decision completely undercut the humor and tension of the piece. Oops.

Plus there's also the problem that it's unclear whether the intended audience is children or adults.

And the problem that it's not that funny. Yet.

Back to the drawing board, though I'm up again next week (a fellow writer swapped me for my slot next month), so it's a good chance to rework the material and get it back in the hands of the actors and writers while it is fresh in everyone's mind.


Over the weekend, American Gangster surprised everyone by finishing #1 with $43.6 million, beating Bee Movie, which only did $38 million (not that that's chopped liver).

Martian Child did an underwhelming $3.3 million. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead did an okay $370, 542 in 43 theaters.

Otherwise, artsier, more serious movies continue not to do well at the box office. Among the movies that are tailing off, and are going to wind up making only $10-$15 million for their whole theatrical run, are Into the Wild, the Darjeeling Limited and Rendition.

In the Valley of Elah made less than $7 million. Jesse James, Things We Lost in the Fire, Lust Caution and The Jane Austin Book Club aren't going to make $4 million.

Sleuth has only made $205,000 in 4 underwhelming weeks. Lars and the Real Girl isn't breaking out.

Neither is Wristcutters: A Love Story, which has gotten a lot of solid reviews (and which I want to see), but which only averaged $1200 per screen in its expansion to 91 screens.

Is it because audiences are only going to movie theaters for spectacle, and saving the smaller fare for DVD rentals?

It's a concern.


At 9:04 AM, Blogger Christian M. Howell said...

Believe me Scott, I'm working on a comedy right now and I find they are harder to write. With drama or action you can have more lulls, but every page of a comedy has to have at least two jokes.

I alternate between physical, sarcastic, and punchline types.

Once I'm finished, I'll probably get a read from you. I just dropped a nice chunk of change at the Fade In pitch fest.

At 7:58 PM, Blogger E.C. Henry said...

You are SO BLESSED to have such opportunity to have your work read and evaluated by actors and writers. I'm like TOTALLY obsessing about a 3 page evaluation I have opportunity to get this Saturday. But then again, you're the pro, I'm the amateur...

Comedy can be hard, but the trick is to tap into to what makes YOU laugh, then share that with everyone else. If you're not laughing when your writing it, how can you expect it to be funny on later review? STILL, I have faith that you can do it, Scott. I think a lot of your problem is your spread to thin. You do to much. Writing is a very engrossing art. I've tried in the past to do multiple projects at once, and I've found that I can only really focus on making one project good at time.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

At 8:05 PM, Anonymous yvonnjanae said...

I think this year's downturn in dramas is going to be a pivot point in terms of movies. Studios will have to adapt new ways to determine a hit other than opening week box office.

I have a feeling that all of these rather sober storylines will do well in DVD sales.


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