Spec Market Scorecard: 2009 to Date (October 16)

I can’t take credit for this… I am copying and pasting the Scorecard and commentary by Jason Scoggins.  It is pretty sobering data if you’re a young or new writer.  However, it goes to show you that studios are pretty much only buying pre-existing properties.  And if you’re seen my previous posts, you know that is what I am creating with all the books I have in production.

by Jason Scoggins
October 21, 2009
This isn’t exactly the return to form I’d been hoping for. The end of the Fall selling season fast approaches, and as you can see from the below numbers the spec market is as flat as it’s been since the end of April. Which in retrospect is not that surprising given the past month’s remarkable executive turnover (huge changes at the top of Disney and Universal, plus adjustment at Fox) and conflicting messages coming out of the studios. On the one hand, the majors are saying they’re out of money in the short term (Sony and Universal even made public statements regarding curtailed spending on new and existing development, respectively). On the other, a bunch of high profile pitches and other projects have sold since the end of the Summer, including at least a couple in the seven figures.
It’s clear from the swings in the number of new scripts on the market week-to-week over the past month (from the last week of September: 4, 17 and 5, and just half a dozen so far this week) that the town is not quite sure what to make of the fact that specs continue not to sell. One would think more than 9% of new spec scripts would get set up coming out of the Summer break, but maybe this is the new normal.
A couple of things are certain, however:
·         Producers are the new black when it comes to setting up a script. All but one or two of the specs that sold in 2009 were bought by or for a significant if not major producer (and just a handful of this year’s sales had big actors or directors attached). This underscores the efficacy of the newly announced development funds secured by Bruckheimer and Parkes/MacDonald. Hopefully we’ll see more of these deals in the next several months and the formal emergence of a new class of buyer.
·         The only reason to take a naked spec out wide right now is to introduce a writer to the town on a wholesale basis (that is to say, there’s no good reason to take out a naked spec right now). The dismal statistic continues unabated: Just 2 of the 140 scripts that have gone out wide since May 1 have sold. That’s a ridiculously low percentage: 1.4%, not far off (statistically speaking) the percentage of scripts sold during the WGA strike.
Overall Spec Numbers:
All Specs
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct*
Total
Specs
28
60
78
46
40
48
16
8
40
24
388
Sales
3
10
10
9
10
6
5
3
4
2
62
Percent
11
17
13
20
25
13
31
38
10
8
16
Wide Specs
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct*
Total
Specs
27
56
71
42
31
39
12
4
34
20
336
Sales
1
6
3
5
1
0
1
0
0
0
17
Percent
4
11
4
12
3
0
8
0
0
0
5
* – Through October 16.
Note: The above grids show the sales of scripts in the month they originally went out, adjusted from month to month as necessary. The below grids are a straight tally of each month’s sales.
Spec Sales By Genre:
Genre (sales)
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Total
% of
Sales
Action
3
1
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
12
19
Comedy
1
2
4
4
3
1
3
1
19
31
Drama
1
4
1
1
7
11
Sci-Fi/Fantasy
2
1
2
1
6
10
Thriller
1
2
1
4
3
2
2
2
17
27
Spec Sales By Buyer:
Buyers (Studios)
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Total
CBS Films
1
1
2
Disney
1
1
2
DreamWorks
2
1
3
Fox
1
1
1
3
Fox Atomic
1
1
2
Fox Searchlight
1
1
Lionsgate
2
2
MGM
1
1
Paramount
1
1
1
3
Screen Gems
1
1
2
Sony
1
1
1
1
1
5
Sony Animation
1
1
Universal
2
1
2
5
Warner Bros.
1
1
3
5
Buyers (Other)
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Total
Appian Way
1
1
Alcon
1
1
Beloved
1
1
Chockstone
1
1
Dimension
1
1
The Film Dept.
1
1
Gold Circle
1
1
Imagine
1
1
Intrepid
1
1
1
3
Mandate
1
1
MRC
1
1
Montecito
1
1
National Lampoon
1
1
New Regency
1
1
Relativity
1
1
1
3
Reliance
1
1
Reliant
1
1
Sidney Kimmel
1
1
Starz Media Anim.
1
1
Summit
1
1
The one really remarkable spec sale in the past month was Relativity’s purchase of Ric Roman Waugh & Michael Lerner’s “Rubicon,” which Waugh will direct and Atlas will produce. Nicole Clemens at ICM originally took this script out wide in March 2009.
Spec Sales by Seller:
Sellers (Agents)
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Efficiency
Alpern Group
1
1/1 100%
APA
1
1
2/27 7%
Bohrman
1
1/9 11%
CAA
1
1
3
3
2
1
1
12/32 38%
Endeavor
2
2
1
5/7 71%
Gersh
1
1
2/9 22%
ICM
1
1
2
1
2
7/28 25%
Kohner
1
1/2 50%
Original Artists
2
1
3/7 43%
UTA
2
1
2
1
2
1
1
10/28 36%
WMA
2
2
3
1
8/17 47%
WME
1
1
2/17 12%
Sellers (Managers)
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Efficiency
3 Arts
1/3 33%
Abstract
1
1
2/6 33%
Anonymous
1
1/8 17%
Art/Work
1
1/2 50%
Benderspink
2
1
1
3/10 30%
Brillstein
1
1/7 14%
Category 5
1
1/1 100%
Circle of Confusion
1
2/13 15%
Epidemic
1
1/1 100%
Gotham Group
1
1/4 25%
H2F
1
1/8 13%
Hopscotch
1/1 100%
Hung
1
1/2 50%
Industry
1
1/5 20%
Justin Silvera Mgmt
1
1/1 100%
Kaplan/Perrone
1
1
1
4/11 36%
Luber/Roklin
1
1
2/4 50%
Madhouse Ent.
1
1/1 100%
Management 360
1
1/4 25%
Marty Shapiro Mgmt
1
1/1 100%
Mosaic
1
1/3 33%
Principal
1
1/6 17%
Principato/Young
1
2/7 29%
Radmin
1
1/2 50%
Rain Mgmt Group
1
1/1 100%
Tom Sawyer Ent.
1
1/2 50%
Underground
1
1
2/5 40%

Movie Review: Watchmen

It’s probably too early for me to comment on Watchmen, as I just watched it… but my gut reaction is that I wasn’t thrilled about it.  I guess hardcore fans of the book wanted it this way, but it mirrored the book almost too much.  It felt like it wasn’t allowed to breathe for this reason.  And for something that was set in 1985 – why did the soundtrack not reflect that?  It was an eclectic mix of songs from no specific generation when it should have clearly been songs from the early 80’s.

Lori Jupiter was annoying… and since she’s a major character it didn’t help.  She’s hot for sure, but that only goes so far.

I wasn’t a big fan of Dr. Manhattan’s VFX.  He looked fake and I just couldn’t get around this.  Billy Crudup is a great actor – they should have let him act.

At the end, although Veindt’s plan came to fruition and it made sense not to rat him out – why did it make sense for them not to kill him?  Why kill Rorshach and not him?  It made the movie completely unsatisfactory.

Also, the relationship between Lori and Dan is beat… because she kisses Dr. Manhattan at the end.  So he’s that much of a loser that he’ll stay with this chick even though she would probably choose another guy if she could?  And Dan – he teetered on the edge of pussy and hero the whole time and when it looked like he was becoming the hero – he lets this go down?  Right back to pussy.

Rorshach and the Comedian were the bright spots throughout.

Injury Tally

I was going over my injuries since 2002 today and it is a lengthy list.

Before 2002, I had broken both my pinky toes in the 8th grade playing on turf – which is something you can’t do anything about because they just keep breaking.  It is uncomfortable for about a year or so and then you just don’t notice it.  I also have a dislocated radial head on the right arm, which I may have had since birth.  Since I have movement in my arm, although not full movement, and the pain only comes and goes – there is nothing they can do for me without risking possible loss of movement completely and a possible amputation.  No thanks.  I had a benign tumor in my mouth (found out during a dental exam for the Air Force Academy) and a tonsillectomy, both when I was 17.

On April 14, 2002 I ruptured my kidney playing lacrosse.  It was a miracle I did not bleed to death internally and I was in the ICU for about a month.  After that, my body’s ability to bounce back and/or avoid injury completely went to hell.

Since then I have done the following playing lacrosse:

-Torn achilles
-Separated right shoulder
-Separated left shoulder
-Torn left hamstring
-Partially torn right hamstring
-A few broken fingers
-Degenerated discs in my lower back and neck

Add in a broken left cheek bone from a fight against about 15 guys in San Francisco and you’ve got a good picture of the last 7 years.

Movie Review: Where the Wild Things Are

Go see Where the Wild Things Are.  But do not bring your kids.

Right from the start it is filled with energy.  Although at times it is a melancholy and grim energy.  This film is very much like a child – going from crying to laughing in a heartbeat… What struck me about the film is that what lurks beneath is a much darker story.  The wild things in this movie are depressed, sad, lonely creatures… one step away from snapping and eating our hero.  Although we never really feel that Max is in danger, we are adults and know he’s not.  If I were a child watching this movie, I would be traumatized.  At one point, one of them rips another’s arm off in anger and throws it.  And they are best friends.  There is even a speech by a teacher, but we get the distinct impression he isn’t talking to the class – he is talking to us the audience, which is mostly children.  A dark, depressing speech about the death of the sun and our universe.  Even still the whole thing had a wild air about it… So real and yet so fake.  I guess that is what being a kid is all bout.

I went in hearing all about how there isn’t much of a plot and that it meanders along until the end.  And, although I agree with this general statement found that the 90 minutes or so flew by.  And with any movie I truly enjoy, I didn’t want it to end…

Technically this is a sight to behold.  Spike Jonze has proven once again that he is a master at his craft.  He does hip and trendy better than any of the pretentious wanna-bes – because he is constantly evolving and his films are all so different while clearly originating from the same director.  Unlike a Wes Anderson, who has become a clone of himself.

Giving what is one of the best performances of the year is Max Records.  Jonze had said he didn’t want the precious actor type, and went with a real kid with zero acting experience.  He is in every scene of this movie and it lives or dies on his shoulders – and he carries it.  To say he was amazing would be an understatement.  He even has that 1000 yard stare that all troubled kids have.  Where you don’t know if they’re going to break out in laughter or stab you.

All-in-all it was a good film, a vivid world painted by a master craftsman.

Fuzzies – First Painted Page

I just got the first painted page for the children’s illustrated book I am doing in.  To be fair, this comes after three revisions… the cat had to change colors and the blanket started off a little too dark.  In fact, I will post all three and the illustration to give you a chance to see how it progressed.

Illustration:
Version 1:
Version 2:
In this version the stone was painted a shade of yellow as well.  And the blanket was softened, but we wanted a green instead of a pink.
Version 3:

Movie Review: The Boys are Back

For those of you who live on Long Island and have Optimum’s Triple Play, you know that Tuesday is free movie night.  But only at Clearview Cinemas.  The choices at Clearview, for the most part, are slim.

Last week I slugged it out while sitting through Surrogates.  Tonight was shaping up to be no different.  Then I saw a title I had never even heard of (I’m a nerd, so for this to happen it must really be under the radar).  The Boys are Back.  A movie about a father grieving his dead wife and dealing with his two sons, starring Clive Owen.  Clive Owen in a film I’ve never heard about?  What is up?

So, deciding between that and… well, a Coco Chanel movie or some romance named ‘Paris’ – it was a pretty easy decision.

And I must say, I was pleasantly surprised.  It was by no means earth shattering.  It was what I expected, story-wise.  Father must cope with his own loss, while helping his young son grieve.  In the middle of all that comes his teenage son from a first marriage who feels abandoned by his father.  Pretty melodramatic stuff on the surface.  But this film, directed by Scott Hicks, did an amazing job of painting a picture of a man at wits end.  It was sweet when it needed to be sweet.  Funny when you needed a moment of levity.  And sad, because life is sad sometimes.

Clive Owen, who also produced the film, was great.  It was easy to see him as the right choice for the part, someone who displays little emotion and that guard begins to wear on him.  A man who was present in his son’s lives, but now without a mother figure – is thrust into the spotlight and must play the role of both parents.  It’s not the bitter story of an estranged father reconnecting with his kids.  It is just the story of a man, trying to be the best father he can.

It genuinely touched me and I would definitely recommend seeing it.

Children’s Book Moving to Painting Phase

The children’s book, Warm Fuzz, that I am overseeing has just finished illustrations and we are moving on to the painting phase.  The artist, Liu, is from somewhere in the middle of China and the guy is pretty bad ass.

I’m hoping to have it done by the Christmas, but it will most likely be Jan/Feb.

Here is a piece of concept art.

Here is an illustration from the book:


 

Book Review: The Name of the Wind

Patrick Rothfuss – thank you.  You have renewed my faith in humanity.  You have proven that genius does in fact exist.

Flat out, The Name of the Wind was the best book I’ve read in a very, very long time.  Since I have spent the last year or so focusing on myself, I haven’t done a lot of reading.  But when things settled down and I completed my move to NY, I went book shopping for the first time.  I had never heard of it, despite it being a fantasy book on the NY Times Bestseller.  You’d think that wouldn’t escape my attention.  Now, I wish I could go back and start on page 1 and have no idea what was coming…

They label this a fantasy book, but it is much more than that.  There are no trolls.  Or orcs.  Or giant battles.  It is a love story.  It is the life story of a man, a very interesting man, who we come to know as a child and watch grow over the course of twenty or so years.

I never make book recommendations.  Films are easy – it is an hour and a half, two hours.  You hate it, you can stop it.  But books are a commitment.  And I think much more personal than films.  But I cannot implore you enough – go out and buy this book.  Read it immediately.  Fall in love with reading and storytelling again.

And, like myself and all the others who have read this, wait anxiously for the second book.