Sunday, January 15, 2006

2006 Movie Sneaks

The L.A. Times CALENDAR section on Sunday had their annual sneak peak edition of all the upcoming movies for the year. This is always fun to read…unless you’re writing a spec. Then it’s terrifying. Like walking in a mine field. God forbid the movie you’ve spent a year writing and are only ten pages away from finishing has the same premise as the July Owen Wilson/Mandy Moore release. And what a relief when there’s nothing scheduled even remotely similar to yours.


But for most writers I suspect you’re in that dreaded “middle ground” – there are movies with “areas” that touch upon yours. Hard to tell from the one sentence logline just how close to yours they are. You see there’s a “threesome”. Your comedy is about a threesome. But theirs could be two guys and a girl and yours is two girls and a guy so it’s completely different. You start playing those games with yourself. Will Ferrell runs a restaurant. Your lead character runs a restaurant. Shit! But wait -- they’re two entirely different restaurants. His takes reservations, yours doesn’t.


Unless…there’s a scene where Will Ferrell decides to stop taking reservations? Shit! You’re dead.

Now before you jump off the Hollywood sign or toast yourself on your good fortune let me screw with your head.

If there is not one premise in the entire Sneak Peak section that smacks of yours then maybe your idea sucks or is not commercial.

And if your spec does touch on an “area” then maybe you’re on the right track. Do you think studios really give a shit about “original” ideas? If they did why would they make and release CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN 2 and YOURS, MINE, AND OURS at the same time? (A better question is why release these two stinkburgers at all?)

Why would they make two Iwo Jima pictures? Why did we have both the X-MEN and FABULOUS FOUR? Is there a comic book character short of Little Lulu that they’re not developing?

Why would they make GARDEN STATE and ELIZABETHTOWN? And I see this year there are two or three more “young guys go home to Midwest towns” projects. Isn’t that GARDEN STATE and ELIZABETHTOWN?

Just write the best script you can. Do what’s in your heart, tell the story you want to tell (making sure there’s a part for Vince Vaughn). And if you haven’t read the CALENDAR already then do yourself a favor and toss it in the garbage with the equally infuriating Real Estate section. You’re shooting at a moving target anyway. If your script itself is good (and has a part for Vince Vaughn) it will open doors for you, whether you sell it or not. Many writers get assignments off of specs. So who knows? Next year YOU could have a movie in Sneak Peaks – YOURS, MINE, AND OURS 2.


VP81955 said...

Yeah, Ken, that's happened to me. About two years ago, I came up with a sitcom treatment and some scripts about a guy who's a comedy writer (and happens to be a witch) who joins the writing staff of a sitcom about a witch. Little did I know that Nora Ephron was working much the same territory with her "Bewitched" adaptation. What's worse, she didn't even do it well!

ScriptWeaver said...

Can Vince Vaughn play a midget clown? Cuz if he can... yes!

Lloyd Thaxton said...

Had it happen to me. Twenty years ago I came up with a great script. It was optioned by Paramount. Someone else came up with a too similar idea so the option wasn't picked up.

Twenty years later and neither one has been made into a movie. I would tell you the idea but I'm still waiting.

Adam Renfro said...

I'm starting a spec called "Being Vince Vaughn."