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Complications Ensue:
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Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Q. I wrote a screenplay based on [famous film franchise]. I plan to send a query letter to the star of the [famous film franchise] movies. Should I also send it to the director of the [famous film franchise] movies? If so, should I do it simultaneously, or should I wait to see if I hear back from [star] first?
This is not how it works. Studios, producers, directors and stars will not even read your script based on their franchise. They might have similar ideas for a sequel to you, and they don't want you claiming they stole your ideas. If they want a sequel, they already have writers working on it. They will not, barring the Rapture, option a spec sequel.

What you can do is take all the derivative material out of your spec sequel, and make it unique and fresh and new. You can't option a Bond spec, but you can write a spy movie, and if it's good enough, and fresh enough, someone may make it in spite of its similarities to the Bond franchise. 

(In extremely rare circumstances, someone might even decide that your spy movie would make a great Bond sequel. But the idea has to come from them.)

Your best bet is to be original. Hollywood is not going to turn to someone new for the same old ideas. They already have people they can count on for the same old ideas. You have to bring something new to the party.


I know one of the Die Hard sequels was based on another script. But that's obviously the rare exception.

By Blogger Tim W., at 8:44 PM  

Yes! That's the one I was thinking of.

But if it had been written as a DIE HARD script, no one would have touched it.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 10:51 PM  

Die Hard 3 began as an original spec called "Simon Says". When they realized it could be a Die Hard sequel, they changed the cop to John McClane and made the villain (Simon) Hans Gruber's brother (though I assume there were plenty of other rewrites as well).

I believe that one of the Hellraiser sequels also started out as an original horror spec, but I can't recall any concrete details.

By Blogger tommy, at 9:07 AM  

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