I’m getting deja vu all over again… wait, didn’t I just say that?
I’m having flashbacks to perhaps the best summer of my life, 1989. Then as now, the WGA writer’s strike had just ended, I was hot on the trail of figuring out how I would go on to sell a big spec that fall, and I was excitedly looking forward to seeing Batman. The more things change, the more they… now I remember!
That summer, 1989, the crowd for Tim Burton’s Batman was huge, and when the lights came down and the hoots began in my local theater (a beaut of a movie palace called The Arlington in Santa Barbara, California that I talk about in Cat! 2), I felt “a part of” an industry that was booming. I’ll never forget that moment.
Like you I anticipate that same chill sitting and watching the latest Batman installment this summer, which looks to be the greatest opening ever, and as before, signals a very healthy business sector. In a time of uncertainty in many industries, the entertainment business is robust… and looking for new ideas. This summer we’ve had two films crack the $300 million dollar mark — Indiana Jones and Ironman — and these have made the several $100 million dollar hits seem like they’re just doing okay. 300 is the new 100. The new measure of success, the bottom rung of ringing in a certified hit has been raised. And so has ours.
But it also signals the same thing it did for me in 1989… “they” have plenty of money to buy my script!
Yes, there have been setbacks, such as the recent pullout of financing for Paramount’s slate of films; we’ve also been troubled by an actor’s strike that is still not settled. But overall, all over the world, we want to be entertained. And those that can figure out how to draw big crowds into theaters will never stop working.
I love the business of creativity, because whether we are screenwriters, novelists, advertising copywriters and marketers, or even politicians (all readers of this blog, and all with a vested interest in telling a better story), the creative challenge we face every day never ceases to fascinate. And in particular I love being part of a film industry that’s always trying to reinvent itself, find new talent, and bring it into the fold of the greatest entertainment engine ever invented. Whether we begin with a franchise and try to give it a new spin, or start from scratch with our own endeavors, it’s a business that’s always looking for the next hit.
And we are the ones who can provide it.
The business of communication is constantly evolving and growing; new means of getting our ideas out there such as IMAX — to the giant side — or YouTube — to the minute — are different, but the same. And an audience for our efforts is waiting to line up around the block. All we have to do is deliver.
The next big rush of spec sales this fall will indicate if you too are inspired by this challenge. Ever raising the bar, and ever changing the nature of what a “hit” really means, is an opportunity for all of us to play.
And when I settle into my seat and watch this latest Batman, I know I will feel especially satisfied to still be “a part of” a legacy of storytelling , and that we will write the next chapter ourselves.