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Screenwriting : Quantity over Quality. by John Luerding

John Luerding

Quantity over Quality.

Has anyone else been keeping an eye on what is coming out of Hollywood. Of late some real dregs. Fantastic Four just to start... how many reboots do we need or sequels.. Mission Impossible 6? I mean really with the struggle to break in you would think they would be coming in wave after wave of thirsty vampires looking for fresh blood. Something new to breath air into the film business.

Bill Costantini

On the other hand, they are businesses that make money off of products that have proven to be successful. As a comparison, why does the NFL play a game 16 every year? Because the other 15 are successful. But aren't they all reboots, too? I mean...here comes another pass....another run....oh look...an end-around! I haven't seen that more than 600 times this year. What those running backs really need is a different weapon for each game. I'd love to see a running-back pull out a stun gun on a linebacker when he's about to make a tackle in, let's say, game 1, and maybe a solid copper pipe in game 2. Ouch! My personal weapon of choice - other than a Beretta 92 - is the Okinawan nunchaku. They inflict a lot more damage than the Chinese nunchaku, and can snap a bone like you can snap your fingers. Yes...that fast. Go Bears!

Danny Manus

Don't blame Hollywood. Blame the audience. Hollywood gives the supply that is in demand. Don't like it? Tell the world to stop buying tickets. Or stop complaining and write something better.

John Luerding

Right Danny because Hollywood always puts out hit movies without a hitch. Come on. How many times do studios mess with movies to the point that they are flat out bad? The audience can ask and ask but what is delivered is something different. The audience doesn't tell the studios how to make the movie, who to cast it and how the actors should act in it. Fantastic Four was a bomb, Battleship was a Bomb, Transformers 3/4 bomb, Redwood Hwy-Bomb, Green Lantern Bomb, Dare Devil-Bomb, Terminator Genysis-so so. The audience is not to blame. That's like saying... I wanted my pen to write this but it didn't want to listen. Good grief.

Stuart Wright

This is a screenwriters forum... I'm not sure how slagging off Hollywood is either helpful or constructive ... Pointing fingers at big studio flops is like shooting fish in a barrel. They make money for shareholders regardless. That's their job. Fantastic four will make money but it won't only be from film. Just my two pennies worth.

Stuart Wright

Mad Max 4; Fast & Furious 7; Jurassic World were extremely successful. I myself went out to the cinema to watch them too... I also enjoyed Ex Machina and Slow west at the cinema too but the audiences for those were much smaller

Stuart Wright

That all said I'd love to know what you think was the last new blood to challenge existing film paradigm?

John Luerding

That is my point Stuart.. MM 4...FF 7.. Jurassic World (just more dinosaurs, that destroy a park.. same theme from the last two of this genre.) it is a wash, rinse, repeat. Yawwn..

Danny Manus

John - To YOU they are boring more of the same hwood crap. to the people who pay $1.5 BILLION to see them, they're great entertainment. For every Fantastic Four bomb, there's an Avengers Hit. For every Lone Ranger or Battleship, there's an Edge of Tomorrow and Armaggedon. Does Hollywood miss sometimes? of course! But no more than the indie world misses. In fact, much much less. You only notice because of the advertising, promotion and press that Hollywood's big misses get!

John Luerding

Danny, I look at the financial intake vs the cost of the movie. The QUALITY of the script gets down played and often supplanted with car crashes, explosions and sfx to compensate. If I can find them boring and same Hollywood crap so do others. The saying.. If there is one there is more. FF4.. $120 million budget.. $65 million box office. (that is a flop) Any movie left to it's own devices eventually makes some kind of income. Avengers. MI, Rocky movies, squeals squeals bla bla blah. Anything after three and the base story becomes redundant. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Stuart Wright

Your subjective opinion of films is irrelevant ... Try telling an 8 year old Jurassic World is boring or a 14 year old that Fast & furious is boring. Your frustration is a cinephile one. Hollywood for better or worse is in the business of show. Art has to be smuggled in like its contraband - well that's what billy wilder said decades ago at least.

Stuart Wright

I'll ask again ... What was the last film that broke the mould a bit in Hollywood?

Jason Dennis

John L - a movie that only makes half its cost at the BO is not a total bust. That's bad, but not as bad as not getting distribution at all, like Serena or Deadfall. There are many indie films, and even some mid budget films, that are total losses like that. But reboots will never be a total loss. It's not necessarily greed, it's risk avoidance. And getting material from new writers and un-franchised material without inherent presale value... that's a risk.

Jason Dennis

I'm annoyed by franchised series, and typically avoid them. I like a contained story where I only have to commit to watching one movie. I wish there were more original content too, and am tired of the wheel that seems to go between books, plays, novels, and merchandising that makes the whole thing appear cynical. But when you already have a ton of money like a big studio, your job is to keep it. The studios are run by investors, but the apathy is bewildering, just like with mutual fund managers. My wish is that studios had a more rigorous and standardized evaluation of the prospects of a concept. They have good ways to estimate the rest of the box office after the open, but not for anything in development. There has been a company formed recently that sort of does that, but their methods are so facile as to be borderline enraging to someone who has studied advanced math. And many folks in Hollywood are of the thought that such evaluations can never be done properly. All of that does not correct the problem of outsider access, but that would just have to be a culture change of not assuming what you already have is better for the dollars than what's out there.

John Luerding

Stuart I'm going to guess here and go with Paranormal Activity (I) as an Indie film and The Blair Witch Project another Indie film.. both film with extremely low budgets and went on to world renown acclaim.

John Luerding

I want to give a nod to you Danny that yes... This is my opinion, but I say again, I'm pretty sure it is not a secular one. I can write a script for a few genres that I'm comfortable with. You want to sign me and produce it? The point I was attempting to make was that Hollywood is in the corporate driving seat going in circles. I'd love to see MGM, Universal, Twentieth Century, and other studios just open doors to writers and take in a few thousand scripts. Go through them and select. Regardless if I got picked or not, at least they are straying from a tired pack of writers.

Stuart Wright

John - good examples but neither were born out of the studio system. And while they represent massive ROI they're not easily repeated without franchising a la Paranormal Activity is up to about the sixth one. Arguably Blumhouse has hit on a formula for major releases that are original: The Gift being their latest ... But the returns for genre are minuscule compared to the four quadrant successes. Eg. The Saw franchise has taken just over a billion from ten films. Jurassic Park alone took $1bn.... The latter excites studios more

John Luerding

Both movies though Stuart.. I might be wrong but both were not of the studio making.. Not until at least they had done so well that they would be picked up for sequel making. Guess I'm just feeling like the little fella under the boot.

Stuart Wright

What I mean is innovation in film and risk isn't the job of the studio. Like Murdoch buying MySpace or google buying YouTube ... Someone else's imagination and success was their proof of concept.

Stuart Wright

Good or bad film is too binary and subjective. I loved Only God Forgives. I'd like to see more films like that. My dad and brother thought it was boring. There are many levels to the film making world, it's a very broad church. The market place like all mass media is dominated by the few but the opportunities to shake it up a bit are just a brilliantly executed screenplay getting into the right hands and you're the next little miss sunshine, slumdog millionaire, kings speech et al. It's maddening but no different for novelists, games developers etc

Bill Costantini

Stuart, To answer your question "what was the last film that broke the mold?" I assume the mold you're talking about is "Beginning...middle....end....protagonist...stated goal....inciting incident...reversal.....obstacles presented....obstacles faced....false victory....reversal.....re-group....climax.....obstacle overcome....denouement...." Well....that's a hard mold to break, obviously, since people like that type of storytelling - but the film "6 Years" is an indie film that opens next week. It was produced by The Duplass Brothers, who now have a deal with Netflix. The Duplass Brothers have done about a dozen or so indie movies over the last 15 years or so, and did a few "Mumblecore" genre films. I bet most writers on this board A) don't know who The Duplass Brothers are; B) have never seen one of their films, and; C) don't know what "Mumblecore" even refers to. I think there are more movies out there that "break the mold"...at least in some ways....but most people don't hear about them as much as they hear about the bigger-budget films that spend more on marketing than they do on the actual production of the summer blockbuster itself. On a somewhat related note...the indie film festivals around the country are really thriving. Over 400 movies that I'm aware of were released this year in the states, and maybe the top 20 are big-budget blockbuster types. Maybe 50 of them are sequels/re-makes/franchise pieces. Of the remaining bunch...a lot of them are indies....most of which follow the traditional structure move...and some of which don't. Those are pretty good numbers for indies, I think. It's not all $100 million and up these days - it's just that those are the movies that we hear about the most, good marketing people that they are, and those are the movies that dominate the movie theater chains. But those are still pretty good numbers for the indie producers.

Stuart Wright

No I meant films that came from left field. The complaint was the studios output is dull. I just wondered if and when he considered it wasn't dull and Blair witch and paranormal are good examples

Stuart Wright

But you bigger point is that cinema and success are moot points when getting a film made and seen at festivals is a success to some people. The fringes and thanks to Netflix they're much visible cinema is very exciting even if the multiplexes are bowing under the weight of studio movies. I've interviewed 15 indie horror film makers recently for my podcast ... The few films I've watched from shows them to be talented and imaginative

John Luerding

A tiny light in a darkened room.. There is hope Stuart..LOL

Phillip "Ubiquitous" Hardy

Decline… of… Western… Civilization; or it just may be the movies suck.

John Luerding

were not talking about that ancient relic. Lets stay with in the last fifteen years or so.. :)

Jorge J Prieto

Story is practically non existent in today's studio produced features. Thank God for indie and television.

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