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Friday, June 16, 2006

Q. What are your thoughts on writing screenplays for existing franchises? For example, there are currently three X-MEN films to date. If I were to write a screenplay for a 4th sequel, would the approach be the same as it would for original screenplays? Or is this a more difficult situation than what you've suggested in your writing so far?
I've discussed this in my book and on my FAQ, but the headline is: don't write sequels unless you've been hired to do it. For legal reasons, production companies and studios will not even read them.

If you have been hired to write a sequel, then I'd say your goal is to figure out two things. The first is, what fans of the earlier films need to see in the sequel to feel satisfied. The more important one is: is there anything exciting in the concept of the franchise that you feel the series has missed. For example, Batman Begins delivers the goods on the darkness in Bruce Wayne's heart in a way the earlier films don't; and it gives you convincing reasons why a man might actually dress up in a batsuit and beat the crap out of criminals and survive doing it. Another way of looking at the second question is: how do I make this series personal to me?

A few months ago I was asked to pitch a new Witchboard movie. My goal was to figure out why people watch that franchise, and what's cool about it; and to figure out how to make the franchise even cooler. I won't tell you what I pitched, but there are aspects of the franchise I find lame and aspects I find cool. My pitch was as much about the latter as I could make it and still deliver the goods I thought any Witchboard movie needs to deliver.

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