Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Deal or No Deal?

One more thing today! I've just noticed the deal Craig Mazin, John August and other lumanaries have signed with Fox. Basically for a vastly reduced up-front fee they will each write an original for Fox. In return they get more creative control and a slice of first dollar gross. Excellent! It's about time writers got first dollar gross instead of the crapola rolling nett profit which essentialy means you get sweet F.A. thanks to highly creative studio accounting.

''A'' list actors have had a slice of this for years. I think Jimmy Stewart was the first one to take a reduced fee in return for Box Office back in the fifties. Same with some directors. But here's the thing. An actor or director can more readily agree to that deal. Because they know the movie is actually being made.

The writer doesn't. There is no guarantee Fox are going to actually make any of these originals. And that is the big gamble these writers are taking. Ok the deal is only for one script each, but are Fox going to love these scripts so much they will make them all? Highly unlikely. So some are going to be disappointed. The ones who do get made could be laughing all the way to the bank. And that is clearly a good thing. But are Fox now going to be tempted to turn round to every writer with a property they want and say 'Hey guys this is the deal the 'A' listers are on. You really want to grab a slice of this too''

I'd say the chances are they will and I'd say don't do it. Unless you have a guarantee the movie is going to be made. Which you won't get. Most bought scripts never end up anywhere near being made. But a company as aggressive as Fox can easily use this deal to beat other writers over the head with. Like ''Why should we pay you $300k for your script when we can get a John August or Craig Mazin or Elliot and Rossio for 100? Be smart, take the 100k and a slice of the back end''

That's a lot of pressure. Good luck to those writers, but I'm not sure they've done the rest of us any favours. And try getting something set up with Fox in the next year or so with 12 'A' listers already ahead of you, desperate for their movies to be made.

What would I do if I were a few letters higher up the alphabet? I would take the deal. What am I, a schmuck??? If it works then in the words of Robert Evans ''that's ''fuck you'' green''


Anonymous said...

Strewth! I hadn't even THOUGHT of that. Good catch Dave. I can definitely see that happening.

Phill Barron said...

I think the deal means the script rights revert to them after a specific period of time - so if the movie doesn't get made they end up with a pay day and an original spec script to shop around.

I think it's a good deal in that respect, it's not writing for hire - it's being paid to write spec scripts.