Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Are Things Looking Up?

If you're anything like us, you're starting to get a little (well, maybe more than a little) fed up with the current state of development in Hollywood. It was bad enough that most blockbusters seemed to be sequels or lackluster adaptations of books, graphic novels, or other movies. Then the video game movies came out in full force, most pretty forgettable. With board games (and Magic 8 Balls) being developed into feature projects, it seems like Hollywood has hit a new low, digging at the bottom of the bin, when there's so much original material being cast aside for want of something that's an established property. 

Writers are being told to set their more interesting ideas aside - I even posted second hand advice to this effect here yesterday - so that they can instead write a (quite possibly) less intelligent, easier-to-sell script. And the "original" ideas making it to screens this summer have been less than tantalizing, to say the least. Most releases are opening under prediction and dropping off quickly. The long and short of it - fans are losing interest. And, according to this article by Nikki Finke, producers are taking note. And they're worried.

As they ought to be. I'm working on an original idea now, and the production I'm working with has been great. However, it's not lost on me how difficult it is to sell a spec right now, especially a high-concept, high-budget one. (I've had numerous discussions with my manager on how to best plan for my follow-up project, and there are a number of ideas we both like, but feel that the timing is not right on... due in no small part to their being a bit more out-of-the-box.) Finke's article, though seems to hint that the times might be shifting... at least a tiny bit. 

Intensively over the next few days, extending even for the next few weeks, a gaggle of studio moguls and/or their executives have scheduled a series of meetings with top agencies in Hollywood. Yes, the movie gods are coming down off Mount Olympus in order to soak up the wisdom of the mere mortals who rep the talent... That's how seriously this Summer of Discontent has unsettled the studios who are beginning to admit being relatively clueless what to greenlight next now that so many movies aren't clicking with moviegoers.

A little later, she adds, "So what are the agents going to tell the studio swells? Here are our writers, here are their scripts, here is the original material you should be making instead of numbing predictability."

I have to say, Chris Nolan's INCEPTION - due to land July 16 - is a glimmer of hope already. A high-budget, original film with a large cast and a lot of good speculation already, Inception could be the film that reminds Hollywood that good things can come without history. Then again, if any of us made a film that grossed over half a billion dollars domestic, I'm sure we could finagle something, too. Let's hope that we're seeing a new age of original material, as Finke suggests could come. Wouldn't that be great for all of us?

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