Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Movies; Mystery Scenes Free

Sarah Weinman linked to this interesting storyin The Boston Globe:

Waiting for Scorsese
Or Spielberg. Or Soderbergh. Or anyone to make the movie based on their book.

Will Smith starred in the 2004 movie "I, Robot," which was written 54 years before the film's release. (20th Century Fox)

By David Mehegan

Jonathan Kirsch, a Los Angeles author, agent, and publishing lawyer, is blunt about the odds against any one novel making it: "Infinitesimal," he said. "If it were one out of a thousand, I'd be shocked." Of the 500 to 600 movies, counting art-house films, that are made yearly, only a fraction of those are based on novels, Kirsch said. And there are more than 50,000 works of fiction published each year, according to W.W. Bowker, publisher of "Books in Print."

Said Boston literary agent John Taylor Williams: "An author shouldn't be surprised if, after a movie option is sold, the movie is never made."

Ed here: I was reminded of this today because I got a call about a pen-name book I wrote in 1983. The guy has a great idea for adapting it. Etc and etc. Long long ago I used to get excited about Hwood calls. The higlight was when the woman who produced The Shawshank Redemption won the Oscar and annouced at her press conference that her next project was Moonchasers by Ed Gorman. How could this miss? Well as my friend director Nathaniel Gutman has said many times (we worked on the screenplay together) we could have written a movie about all the things that got in the way of getting the damned thing made. I believe that Moonchasers has now been optioned nine times since 1993. I've made more money on the options than I have on any book I've written. Two months ago I got a frantic call--please tell me it isn't optioned--from a guy who sounded as if we'd start shooting the ext day. I never heard from him again.

Right now I have three books under option but I know better than to get excited. I'm waititing to see how The Poker Club, the film based on my novel, has turned out. I've seen clips and they look good.

But as far as getting my hopes up about any other movie project...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ed, this is valuable. I heard long ago that the chance of an optioned story going into production is one in two hundred. And of course once a novel is published, the film industry has already rejected it. For some reason, film people rarely chase a novel that is out; only unpublished works interest them. (Actors who look for stories to showcase themselves are an exception.)

There are scores of reasons studios avoid novels. They don't like snow. They don't like costume drama. They don't like history. They don't like complexity. They don't like stories with more than four main characters, etc.

Most films these days originate in Hollywood, and it is the film industry that generates novels, in the form of tie-ins.

Congratulations on your options and film.

Richard Wheeler