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June 2019 Script Sales – Django and Zorro to team up on screen!

June 2019 Script Sales – Django and Zorro to team up on screen!

June saw some interesting script sales as reported by Script Pipeline, with a number of famous franchises making their way to the screen for the first time – and what might seem like an unlikely teamup… Here’s what grabbed our attention!

  • Two legendary heroes unite! Quentin Tarantino and Jerrod Carmichael will be writing the script for DJANGO/ZORRO. Originally a comic book sequel to DJANGO UNCHAINED, there’s no word yet on when the movie might come out or who would be in it… But our interest is definitely piqued!
  • There’s also going to be a spinoff for EASY A, the 2010 comedy that established Emma Stone as a movie star. Burt V. Royal is set to write and direct, having also written the screenplay for the original film.
  • New Line Cinema are looking to bring HELLO KITTY to the screen, with Lindsey Beer attached as writer. How well this will do in the west remains to be seen – but there’s a good chance that it will be a big hit in Hello Kitty’s homeland of Japan.
  • Another franchise looking to make the jump to the big screen is the wildly successful video game MINECRAFT. There may not have been any great video game adaptations so far, but we’d bet that this could appeal more to kids and family audiences and so potentially do well at the box office. And who knows? If they style it in the same way as THE LEGO MOVIE (which we thought was awesome), it could be a surprise hit…

If you want to find out about any other script sales, then click here to see Script Pipeline’s full report!

Disney’s MULAN – Are Audiences Getting Tired of Remakes?

Disney’s MULAN – Are Audiences Getting Tired of Remakes?

The first footage from Disney’s live-action remake of MULAN has landed, and it’s got plenty of people excited. But there’s also a good number of people who are already tired of seeing Disney dredge through its catalogue of animated classics for films to remake.

Since Kenneth Branagh’s CINDERELLA in 2015, no animated classic has been safe – and 2019 has already been the busiest year of all. DUMBO and ALADDIN have both already been released to mixed reviews, and they’re soon to be joined by THE LION KING in just a couple of weeks time.

And after that? We’ve still got MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL (sequel to MALEFICENT) and LADY AND THE TRAMP (to be released exclusively on Disney+) before we even get to MULAN early next year!

At first glance, it might seem that Disney are in danger of over-saturating the market with remakes. However, the numbers don’t support that idea.

ALADDIN didn’t impress the critics (or us!) all that much, but that didn’t put people off, taking an extremely healthy $921.7 million at the box office. And just two years ago, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST managed a monstrous $1.2 billion!

The simple fact is that it doesn’t matter if a few people get tired of seeing these remakes because Disney has a core audience who will happily line up to see their films no matter what. Playing on childhood nostalgia and the strength of their own brand, these remakes are always going to be sure-fire hits.

And that brand strength gives these films yet another advantage: Disney doesn’t need to worry so much about casting big-name actors who will help attract audiences. Look at ALADDIN as an example, where the only famous name in the project was Will Smith. Just being remakes is enough to bring audiences in.

So don’t expect these remakes to stop coming any time soon. Disney has already announced a whole host more, including THE LITTLE MERMAID, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, and LILO & STITCH.

You may be getting tired of the endless Disney remakes, but there’s a core audience which isn’t – and it’s that core audience that ensures they’ll keep getting made.

 

Tarantino to Retire? ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD might be his last film…

Tarantino to Retire? ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD might be his last film…

Quentin Tarantino has never been shy about stating his intentions to retire. For years now, 10 has been the magic number; once he has made his 10th film, he’s always said that he’ll step away from directing.

Although it might seem confusing for such a renowned filmmaker and cinephile to retire, there’s a definite philosophy behind it. Tarantino wants be remembered as not just a great director, but as a great artist – and he wants to go out on his own terms. Instead of waiting for his career to decline, he’d rather go out in a blaze of glory at the peak of his powers.

No-one ever said he wasn’t dramatic.

With ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD being his 9th film, there’s good reason to be worried if you’re a Tarantino fan. That magic number 10 is coming up fast; we might not see too much more of a director who has had a massive influence on movies for more than 25 years now.

But now, in an interview with GQ Australia, he’s teased that he might not even make it to 10. ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD has received rave reviews across the board, giving him that very blaze of glory he’s looking for when he retires.

“If it’s really well received, maybe I won’t go to 10. Maybe I’ll stop right now! Maybe I’ll stop while I’m ahead. We’ll see,” he said, when asked whether he might be stopping soon.

Either way, one thing is for certain: we won’t be seeing much more of Quentin Tarantino in the director’s chair. Even if he decides to go on after ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, he claims he’s still only got one more film in him.

Of course, nobody really knows – not even Quentin Tarantino. It might just be possible that he loves the movies too much to give up, and finds himself drawn back in.

Here at WriteMovies, we certainly hope that would be the case. Tarantino is a great writer and director – and as far as we’re concerned, the more we see of him, the better.

‘SALEM’S LOT and video game adaptations – Script Sales from March/April 2019

‘SALEM’S LOT and video game adaptations – Script Sales from March/April 2019

It’s always important to keep up to date with what scripts are selling, and there are some interesting things to note from Script Pipeline’s last couple of reports on sales from March and April…

First of all, sales have slowed lately because a dispute has led to most WGA members firing their agents. That alone is worth keeping an eye on; how script sales will be conducted in the future, and how practices will change as a result of this, could have major ramifications for our industry.

Apart from this, here are some of the things that caught our eye in these latest reports…

  • There’s been some controversy over the casting of Will Smith as Richard Williams, the father of Venus and Serena, in biopic KING RICHARD. With Smith set to also produce, however, it’s unlikely that the casting will change. This could be a powerful sports biopic if handled correctly.
  • The DC Extended Universe will continue with THE FLASH – and unusually, it seems they’re allowing Ezra Miller, who plays the title role, to write it as well.
  • Although they haven’t traditionally fared well (DETECTIVE PIKACHU excepted), another video game adaptation is being attempted in the form of SAINTS ROW. Lacking the brand appeal of franchises like POKEMON or ASSASSIN’S CREED, it remains to be seen whether there’s really an audience for this.
  • On a similar note, last year’s TOMB RADIER reboot is getting a sequel. We weren’t too impressed with it ourselves, but it’s clearly done well enough at the box office to deserve a follow up.
  • With recent adaptations of IT and PET SEMETARY, bringing the works of Stephen King to the screen is popular right now. That trend continues with ‘SALEM’S LOT – here’s hoping it’s more like the former than the latter in terms of quality.

If you want to see what else has been sold these last couple of months, take a closer look at Script Pipeline’s report on March Script Sales by clicking here, or click here for sales from April!

AVENGERS: ENDGAME conquers the box office

AVENGERS: ENDGAME conquers the box office

It’s no secret what kind of films are doing well at the box office these days – and which film in particular right now. Riding the wave of superhero successes, AVENGERS: ENDGAME, the 22nd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is destroying all the competition in its path.

To put the success of ENDGAME into context, the film broke more than a dozen records in its opening weekend alone, as reported by this article by Variety. Most notably, it had the biggest worldwide opening of all time and took just five days to reach $1 billion.

And it goes on. The Marvel movie is charging towards the all-time worldwide record held by AVATAR having now made $2 billion. It took AVATAR 47 days to hit that threshold. ENDGAME has managed it in just 11.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe was already the biggest grossing franchise in movie history, and looking at this unprecedented success, it’s easy for writers and producers alike to start thinking that franchises are the way forward – hence the DC Extended Universe and the attempted Dark Universe from Universal, which got off to a rocky start with their 2017 reboot of The Mummy.

But before you start planning out your own movie universe, a few words of caution. Looking at the other biggest grossing franchises, only two out of the top ten aren’t based on pre-existing books or comics. So it’s tough to create one from scratch.

It’s also worth noting that neither of those two – STAR WARS or THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS – set out trying to create a franchise from the start. They began with stand-alone films and grew from there.

Even the MCU did something similar with its earliest films, rather than trying to introduce too much all at once. It may have shown the potential for vast, interwoven universes in film, but it didn’t overreach itself in the beginning. It also relied on the strength of its source material.

So before you start writing that massive series you’ve got planned out in your head, you might want to start on a smaller scale. The MCU may be wildly successful, but it’s tough to replicate that kind of success.

Click here to read more about AVENGERS: ENDGAME’s record breaking success from Variety, and their assessment of whether it’ll be able to overtake AVATAR…

A Character With No Dialogue – A Tribute to Peter Mayhew

A Character With No Dialogue – A Tribute to Peter Mayhew

The sad news has broken that actor Peter Mayhew, who portrayed Chewbacca in the STAR WARS franchise until handing over the role to Joonas Suotamo for THE LAST JEDI, died on April 30th at the age of 74.

Chewbacca has always been a strange sort of character, even by the fantastical standards of STAR WARS. A ‘walking carpet’ (to use Princess Leia’s turn of phrase) who seems permanently stuck with the same facial expression and who is only capable of producing a peculiar series of howls, yelps, and roars, he’s never been the most rounded personality in film – let alone the series.

And yet somehow, although Chewbacca may not have a deep personality, he’s certainly characterful. Even though he can’t speak, audiences have a clear idea of who he is – and as a result, defying the odds, he has gone on to become a fan favorite.

There’s an important lesson for writers to learn here about how to shape a character without resorting to the clichés of tragic backstories or awkward exposition. So how is it that the walking carpet won people’s hearts?

The answer lies in his interactions with other characters – which although simple, are also extremely endearing. He lacks much agency of his own, instead always following Han Solo around – but he’s always there, always constant, always loyal.

His reaction to being reunited with his closest friend in RETURN OF THE JEDI – hugging Han and fondly stroking his hair – shows just how much he cares. So too does his farewell hug to Luke in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, and his determination to repair C-3PO after the droid has been attacked.

It’s also telling how the other characters treat Chewbacca. Aside from Leia’s insult after she’s first met him, he’s consistently treated with respect and fondness by everyone. Their views towards him help to shape ours. Writers should take note of this; a character doesn’t need to say a lot (or anything at all!) if other characters are saying good things about them.

The other important lesson for writers is to trust their actors to bring the characters to life. A talented actor can bring a huge amount of personality to a character without needing to say a single word, and that was what Peter Mayhew did. After all, it’s no easy task to portray a character with so much heart from behind such a thick layer of fur.

We never saw his face in any of the STAR WARS films he was in – but the impact Peter Mayhew had on the series will always be felt.

 

“Inconceivable!” – A tribute to William Goldman

“Inconceivable!” – A tribute to William Goldman

Last week, the world of screenwriting lost a legend. William Goldman, who won two Oscars for BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID and ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN, died on 16 November at the age of 87. Now, WriteMovies takes a look at his legacy and what we can learn from it…

If there’s one thing that it’s easy to agree on, it’s that William Goldman was a phenomenal writer. His incredible wit made his films infinitely quotable, and no more so than THE PRINCESS BRIDE, which was based upon his own book of the same name. In fact, his talent with words was so great that one of the most memorable lines in the film is a single word: “Inconceivable!” (Although, immediately followed by the remark: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”)

But wit alone isn’t enough to make a great story. Throughout his career, William Goldman showed a profound understanding of what stories are really about; THE PRINCESS BRIDE gives us everything we could possibly want from an adventure film, with romance, action, dashing heroes, evil villains, and daring feats of bravery. Yet it also defies our expectations enough to give us something new. It feels simultaneously like something very familiar and like something we’ve never seen before.

This is a kind of balance that it’s hard to pull off, but you can see it again in BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID. When the script was first written, only one studio showed any interest, and even then they wanted it changed so that the main characters wouldn’t flee to South America. After all, the heroes in Westerns at the time didn’t flee – no matter what the real Butch and Sundance did! In the end, it survived in the script, as did plenty of other genre-defying elements, most notably the famous bicycle-riding scene set to the song “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head“.

William Goldman wasn’t just great with words, he was great with stories too. He understood structure, character, pacing, tone, and all the other things that keep an audience captivated – and then he strung them all together with wit and charm. In his own words:

“Screenplays are structure, and that’s all they are. The quality of writing—which is crucial in almost every other form of literature—is not what makes a screenplay work. Structure isn’t anything else but telling the story, starting as late as possible, starting each scene as late as possible. You don’t want to begin with “Once upon a time,” because the audience gets antsy.”

The stories that William Goldman gave us will probably last as long as film itself. His book “Adventures in the Screen Trade” is a fantastic way to learn from the master himself – and after all, what could be a better tribute to him than giving it a read?

The world of film lost another great last week with the death of comic book legend Stan Lee. You can read our tribute to him by clicking here.