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Complications Ensue:
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Saturday, October 28, 2006

I read Moneyball in about two days. Lewis's book is about how a few statistics-crazy amateurs invented a new system for analyzing who the most valuable baseball players really are and how to use them; and how it only took about 15 years for one team, the Oakland A's, to put the system into use. Most teams still aren't using it, though it's worth noting that the Red Sox finally broke the Curse of the Bambino when they did.

If only there were comparable statistics for show business. One suspects that one reason studios are so close to the vest about movie budgets and profits -- aside from it helps them keep the money -- is that they don't want people to know how dumb their decisionmaking really is. I've read many times that hiring expensive stars correlates negatively with profitable pictures. (Star vehicles make more money, but they cost way more money.) It's impossible for outsiders to tell how true that is, though somewhere in the heart of each studio there must be a gnome that knows. The star system continues because no one gets fired when they greenlight a Harrison Ford picture that tanks, but if your Nathan Fillion picture crashes, you're fired.

Of course as a creator I'm not primarily concerned with whether the studios make money. But if it so happens that you're better off spending money on writers than on stars, I think all of us here would like that to be well known. And possibly, even, acted upon.


Of course as a creator I'm not primarily concerned with whether the studios make money...

Do you really want that statement out there, Alex? It seems a bit, "biting the hand that feeds."

As a writer, I want my financiers/clients to do well with my writing. I want them to succeed because in doing so, I succeed. Even if it's just a low budget contract job where I'm paid a flat fee. The publicity value alone is worth it.

If BON COP BAD COP tanked, you wouldn't have had as many PR opportunities as you've recently had would you? You wouldn't be able to tell people you were part of a movie hit, tell them you have two books on the shelf, and that you're available for work. Your agents certainly want your producers/studio to succeed because that means they have "an easier sell" with you next go around - you're the guy who wrote that hit Canadian movie.

By Blogger Cunningham, at 8:16 PM  

While it may be merely a convenient smokescreen, Sumner Redstone said of Paramount's cutting ties with Tom Cruise something to the effect of: Paramount were paying too much to Cruise, that stars don't make a picture, the script does.

Would that he really believed this and that other suits felt the same way.

Ps. A hearty congrats to Lisa for the release of her book. As we'd say down here - hectic & cheers!

By Blogger African Den, at 2:08 AM  

I care whether the studios make money from, say, Serenity, because I want them to make more things that I like. They're not gonna do that if they don't think they're gonna make money off of it. If I want to be editing something more interesting than a fashion magazine someday, I want people to invest money in that more interesting material, so that they will want to give me some of it!

As a freelance magazine editor, I see making money for client as my primary goal. But the way I do this is to focus on the readers: create text that gives them what they want, that treats them with respect, and that they will want to read more of. The difference between crappy text and good text is worth money to my clients; that's what they're paying me for. But it's only worth so much money. It is not the only thing that sells a magazine. So (as you say) you have to ask, how much money does a good script make for a studio? Otherwise, you might as well just be making your own movies and distributing them on YouTube. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just a different... business model, that's all.

By Blogger Katya, at 10:52 AM  


Here is a Yale study on screenplay sales. It is way over my head but you may get something out of it. link:'ravid%20movie%20success%20script'

By Blogger Harold, at 3:46 PM  

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