I devote a good chunk of the first chapter of Save The Cat! to the quandry of “What is it?” That is the problem moviegoers face when they open up the newspaper to see what’s playing at the Cineplex. A movie’s success or failure depends on whether or not we can answer that question. No matter who’s in it or what the special effects look like, if you can’t tell me “What is it?” why should I go?

Case in point: Rumor Has It. It’s out in theaters now. And it’s got it all. Big movie stars: Jennifer Aniston, Shirley Maclaine, Kevin Costner. Big director: Rob Reiner. Big push: Lots of ads. But it also has a big problem: I don’t know what it’s about. I think it has something to do with Kevin dating Jennifer AND Shirley,and there’s something in there about The Graduate, but… What is it? And as a result, Rumor Has It did poorly in its first week out. No one went. Why should we? Even if I THINK I know what it’s about, the idea isn’t intriguing… and I’m a fan of everyone involved.

Don’t let this happen to you! The idea is and always will be KING! Intrigue me with a great idea, lure me to your movie with a concept I can’t wait to see, and I don’t care who’s in it.

So if you’re working on an idea for a movie now, pitch it to me. Let’s see if that great idea you think you have really is THE ONE.