Funny, I don’t feel richer! But if the latest news is true, Hollywood has just experienced its biggest grossing summer ever! Over the course of the last three months, Hollywood made the most money at the U.S. domestic box office than it ever has in history: $4 Billion in ticket sales! Cue the balloons and streamers! Cue the faux champagne (I guess that would be sham-pagne).
Yes, the audience showed up this summer. This is great news. There was a lot to choose from at the Octo-plex, a lot of creativity on display, and most importantly the powers-that-be have no excuse not to buy your script this fall; we know they’re rolling in dough!
Of the big winners, however, the biggest is Judd Apatow. Both his Knocked Up and Superbad were more profitable than Spider-Man 3, Pirates 3, or Transformers. Why? Because the hard costs on these comedies are so low, and the upside is so huge, that when we compare the costs of any â€œthree-quel,â€ including P & A, the comedies cleaned up.
So why isn’t Hollywood making more comedies, and giving more spec screenwriters a turn at bat?
Well, maybe they are. Check out the latest story in Variety (http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117970235.html?categoryid=13&cs=1) describing how Fox has given a group of spec writers a first look deal on their next spec in return for greater profit participation. The group includes the likes of Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine) and my buddies, the Wibberleys (National Treasure), and I think it’s a winning deal. It’s also a trend worth noting. The writer’s group is becoming a force to be reckoned with, and one reason why I have encouraged Cat! groups everywhere I go. There’s strength in numbers, and power in the cooperative. One of the interesting possibilities that came up with our Chicago group, for instance, is the representation of the whole group by a major agency here â€“ why not rep eight writers for the price of one? It’s a great idea and just one of the creative ways to get ahead by consolidating resources.
I have recently formed my own writing co-op and we are already seeing progress. My group includes Dan Goldberg (Meatballs, Stripes) Jeremy Garelick (The Break-up), Dean Debois (Lilo & Stitch), and newest member Ben Frahm (Dr. Sensitive). I like to call us The Gang of Five. We meet once a week to vet each other’s scripts, and work out the kinks in our stories, and network resources to help the other guy. And all in the group are diehard Cat! fans btw; the brainpower on display in the room is a little intimidating!
What we hope to accomplish is what every spec writer wants, and what may be a trend for writers in the future: more attention paid to the possibility that the original idea, the non-pre-sold franchise, the great American spec, not only has merit but staying power. The most profitable ideas are the ones spec writers think up — if they too understand the bottom line! Soon I hope, a billion of that next new record-breaking summer will be ours!
AND THE WINNER IS…
I have been so proud of those who have contributed to the ClichÃ© Contest on this blog in the past two weeks. I have been holding off on writing new entries in sheer awe of the contributions by writers who have brilliant insight in to the clichÃ© conundrum. But the winner has got to be Mike Renaldi, who identified his favorite clichÃ©, and the clichÃ© coiner Joe White. Mike followed the rules of the contest, and Joe did the unthinkable, found the clichÃ© that up until he pointed it out, I had not thought was a clichÃ©! To each of you, kudos, you will be awarded copies of the latest updated Save the Cat! 2.0 software! And congratulations to one and all! This is some of the best and most hilarious reading about movies that Iâ€™ve read in a long time. Thank you all for a great two weeks!