Select Page
Ian’s L.A. diary, March 2nd 2020 – preparing for a big pitching opportunity and growing the WriteMovies team

Ian’s L.A. diary, March 2nd 2020 – preparing for a big pitching opportunity and growing the WriteMovies team

To give a picture of how we engage with industry and pitch our winners’ scripts, our Director Ian Kennedy is sharing a week of his L.A. diary with us. He’s got meetings with major producers, organisations and other industry professionals to share with us, plus images from the scene.


MONDAY

Ian Kennedy and Kathryn Nawrocki

With Kathryn Nawrocki at the historic Culver Hotel

A lovely warmer to our week began over the weekend with a meal at the historic Culver Hotel (lots of fun industry connections, especially from THE WIZARD OF OZ, Charlie Chaplin and John Wayne) with Kathryn Nawrocki, a former WriteMovies winner who has been a great support for us over the years. As well as setting us up for a meeting with producers of acclaimed recent hits, she gave some really thoughtful contributions to our slate of scripts and how we’re currently presenting them. Huge thanks to her for her kindness, connections and positivity!

The start of the week is a great chance to check in on upcoming meetings, firm up the details and logistics, and rearrange any that need it – people are busy here so confirmed meetings often still get reshuffled! Amazing how much time that can take up when you’ve got a lot of other appointments and locations to juggle with, but it’s the info you need first so you can know your schedule and what else is going to be possible. Learning to keep communications brief and clear is key, and it’s what everyone expects from you as well.

Next up, a check on where we’re at with our planning and preparations. First bit of that is reaffirming our goals for the week, our priorities and focus. It’s way too easy to be a head-down worker, get straight into the little jobs that are ongoing or waiting in your inbox, and lose the bigger picture. For me, this week is about affirming an ongoing presence here in L.A. that is highly visible to the industry and to achieve the kind of conversations that will lead to our scripts getting optioned and produced. To make that happen, it goes without saying we should go into all meetings prepared and crystal clear about the people we’re meeting and their work, us and our relevant scripts, and what we’re looking to achieve.

It’s easy to only look at things in terms of yourself and what you’re trying to achieve – but nearly always, it’s only by helping someone else achieve what they’re trying to, that you’ll achieve a deal that works. So you have to get a feel for the slate, priorities and values of the people you’re talking to, and use your human intelligence and networks to get the info you need. Of course, we’ve been pooling our team knowledge and colleagues and networks to do just that for a long time before any of this week’s meetings were confirmed.

So while I’m doing the above I’m liaising with our team to firm up the sharpest, clearest pitches possible as we confirm the most suitable of our scripts for the upcoming meetings. Every new thought or bit of research can change our approach to this and the reference points that will be the best to use, so this kind of thing I like to manage as an ongoing conversation, keeping a short summary of the things I need to memorize in an accessible location as I do.

Standard Hotel

Many Hollywood hotels have varied spaces that can be great for meetings, like The Standard’s pool area here. The lobby and restaurant there both have good spaces to bring people as well – we were one of several industry meetings taking place casually in those spaces today.

We’ve been given huge amounts of great tips and insights over the years so it’s important to process that into easy-to-access summaries and checklists too. So easy to miss the one crucial thing that could make or break an opportunity. For example: “So what’s your ‘big trailer moment’ in this story?”

Meanwhile, a top priority early this week is interviewing candidates to be a new voice on the ground in LA for us. Today that process started very promisingly. Quietly optimistic that we can get someone with the right skills and credentials in place by the end of this week – watch this space!

 

IN TUESDAY’S L.A. DIARY…

Find out how Ian gets on in his next meeting with acclaimed producers, and further interviews to join the WriteMovies team!

September/October Script Sales – Pirates of the Caribbean, Inspector Gadget, and more…

September/October Script Sales – Pirates of the Caribbean, Inspector Gadget, and more…

The number of reboots and remakes continues to climb, as can be seen from both the September and October script sales as reported by Script Pipeline… And there are a few other interesting things to note.

  • After a great start, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN hasn’t done so well in recent years. Disney are now planning a reboot of the series, with original writer Ted Elliott being joined by CHERNOBYL creator Craig Mazin as they seek to develop a new story, reportedly without Jack Sparrow.
  • It might not have the same box office draw, but another Disney franchise getting a reboot is INSPECTOR GADGET. SNL writers Mikey Day and Streeter Seidell are attached.
  • And if you’re already getting sick of remakes, unfortunately we’ve got another one for you. Paramount has started work on a new version of FACE/OFF, the 1997 action thriller that was directed by John Woo.
  • THE PRESENT seems like a script that shows there’s new potential even in old concepts. Despite similarities to GROUNDHOG DAY, it puts a new twist on the story – just as HAPPY DEATH DAY did – by having a young boy repeatedly relive the day his parents broke up and trying to prevent it.
  • Bret McKenzie of FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS won an Oscar for 2011’s THE MUPPETS, and now he’s returning to the Jim Henson company once again. He’ll be writing the script and music for EMMET OTTER’S JUG-BAND CHRISTMAS.

Click here if you’d like to see the full Script Pipeline report for September, or click here for October. And if you think you’ve got a script more original than anything you see here, get it into our hands by submitting to one of our contests here!

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!

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

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…