On that “Wonder Woman” script and more
Promised I’d give this a little plug this week. It’s the trailer for fellow Melbournian James Wan’s new film, “Dead Silence”. Yep, that’s Vinnie from Home & Away doing battle with a doll. Apparently, acting opposite a dummy is something he learnt about on the soap… so the role came easy to him. So whaddya reckon? The next “Saw”? or the next “Leprechaun in da’ Hood”? Looks quite slick to me. Check the trailer out here.
Glug, Glug Glug, and what about…
This new “Wonder Woman” script that Joel Silver’s company has purchased? I mean – it must be pretty good. It must be damn good. Silver Pictures never buys spec scripts – especially ones that they don’t plan on using. Yep, that’s right, they don’t plan on using Matthew Jennison and Brent Strickland’s script. They simply wanted it off the market.
First up, good work guys. That’s one mighty feat. Your film may never be made – chances are it was never going to anyway; I mean, this is someone else’s property you’re trying to squat on – but the fact that you’ve actually got some GOOD cash in your pocket from selling a spec script is amazing. Do you know how many spec scripts, especially for sequels or spin-offs, are written each week? Millions. Do you know how many spec scripts, especially for sequels or spin-offs, actually sell? Very few. It’s an uphill battle, that’s for sure. At the same time, they can also be a great calling card. I mean, chances are, these two guys will now find themselves in work as a result of Silver buying their script. He’ll no doubt get them to work on another movie, or, someone else will snap them up to write their superhero movie. It’s almost a sure thing that they’ll be able to eat this year – unlike last year, when they were shopping their spec around via two-seated bicycle – and maybe even at WPs.
At the same time, I have to say, its damn weird that Silver wants the script. The studio sources are claiming that the purchase is just a pre-emptive measure “aimed at taking the spec off the market to protect itself against the possibility that any similarities between the scripts could be fodder for future legal action.” It doesn’t make sense that he simply wants it to keep it off the market – because as I said, they wouldn’t have a chance of getting it made anyway, without him. One thing that I find interesting is that both Whedon’s script and this new script are apparently vastly different. For a start, they’re set in different times. Whedon’s is set in the modern day, whilst the boys’ script is set in WWII. Now what kind of legal problems could arise there? Nothing. Zip. There couldn’t be much similarity in the scripts at all – except, of course, for a lasso and an invisible jet. It definitely sounds like Silver is reconsidering his story options here. I think there’s something suss going on here. Is Joss Whedon’s script good? I can’t work out why it wouldn’t be… but something tells me that they might be ‘keeping their options’ open. If that weren’t the case, then Silver would’ve bought up the “Predator 3” spec and “Lethal Weapon 5” specs that were doing the rounds a few years back.
I can tell you, that from day one, Whedon and Silver, had different ideas. For a start, Silver wanted to cast this thing pretty wildly – even mentioning Kim Basinger at one point. Whedon wanted to keep it more pure, and not necessarily have a known actress in the lead role. Has their not-seeing-eye-to-eye escalated even more? Guess we’ll find out in due time.
UPDATE!! : Guess who just left “Wonder Woman”? Yep, the Caffeinated one was correct! Whedon is OFF the project. Read more here
Glug, Glug Glug, and what about…..
Specs. Spec scripts – especially, as I mentioned in the previous paragraph – are a harder sell than a skinless lizard. They really are. So many folks have written sequels, prequels, spin-offs, film versions of old TV shows – and so on – over the years, but hardly any of them have got further than an adobe reader on some fanboys’ computer. Thing is, unless the writers behind those specs are someone (i.e. Joss Whedon could write a spec and possibly get it seen) or are sleeping with the person that owns the rights to the characters they’re using in their script they’re going to find it pretty darn hard to sell their script.
As if it isn’t hard enough to sell an original script – imagine trying to sell one that features characters and situations from someone else’s movie!?
Mark Litwak’s Entertainment Law Resources site pinpoints the probs.
Question: If a writer writes a script on spec intended to be a sequel for a movie or movies already released, what are the legal ramifications? For example, if a writer writes a spec sequel for the ‘Aliens’ or ‘Scream’ series, can this script be submitted? What qualifies as Fan Fiction and are there any legal issues with it?
Answer: One cannot create a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner of the original work. A writer who creates a sequel to another writer’s work is creating a derivative work. Such a sequel script is likely to be unusable unless permission of the owner of the original work is obtained. An exception is if the original work has fallen into the public domain, which means it is no longer copyrighted. At that point in time, anyone can create a derivative work. So, for example, all of the Sherlock Holmes tales written by Arthur Conan Doyle are now in the public domain. But most works created in the past 75 years are still protected under copyright law.
It is usually a bad idea for a writer to create a derivative work without permission of the owner of the work it is based upon. Sometimes a writer creates such a sequel in order to demonstrate his/her skill and to offer the script as a writing sample. However, the most impressive example of a writer’s skill is a completely original work, not one based on another’s creation. If you create a derivative work, you run the risk of wasting your time because without the permission of the owner of the original, the script is unusable. It doesn’t matter that you are a fan of the original. Submitting such a script may also damage your reputation because it suggests that you are oblivious to the basic rules of copyright ownership.” (Of course, Litwak probably doesn’t spend much time on the web reading these spec scripts… some of them are quite good… and obviously, is yet to read the “Wonder Woman” news.)
Writersstore.com seconds that, saying “you are free to go ahead and write the screenplay — but purely as a showcase of your work. Any potential buyer of the screenplay would be precluded from exploiting it in any commercial way without separately securing the underlying rights. Sometimes (though it’s rare) a studio will love your idea for a remake or a sequel of a property they already own, which makes it relatively simple. In fact, this is exactly what producers do. For example, Brian Grazer may go to Universal and say: I have an idea for a theatrical movie based on your 1970′s series, ‘The Six Million Dollar Man.’ Universal already owns the rights, and might go ahead and hire a writer — or, Brian G. may already know that you have created such a script.”.
Bottom Line : It can be a great sample of your work, but just prepared for a lot of hard work if you’re really determined to get your sequel spec to the right people.
There have been quite a few good spec scripts – for sequels – over the years, do the rounds on the net, and their authors have received quite a bit of publicity too. All of them – as far as I know – are still trying to sell their script.
Predator 3 : Deadlier of the Species
Sam F.Park, a producer of low-budget horror movies (like “The Half-Way House”) and one-time Kerry campaigner, wrote “Predator 3: Deadlier of the Species”, a spec script that he actually tried to get Silver Pictures to snap up. They didn’t. They weren’t even interested in taking it off the market (see above for why that doesn’t fit in with today’s news). The net latched onto the script though – so much so that that rumours even started flying that The Rock, and later John Cena, had expressed interest in playing the lead if it happened – with many applauding the clever storyline. “This was another attempt on our part to do something the fans would love and even the larger film audiences would embrace as familiar but with a new and exciting spin on the concept”, said Park, who was also pitching a superhero film called “X-Ray” at the same time. “[Joel Silver's assistant, Reggie Hunter] did his part and got this treatment into [Joel] Silver who told him it was great but… he no longer was working with Fox on this franchise (now strictly a Warner Brothers team player) and so, nothing came of it.” Apparently his “Predator 3” would have seen Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character [from the first film], Dutch, return to do battle with the creature. “He turns his back on love to track down the traitor who wiped out his elite squad of soldiers. Two years later it’s Dutch who is being secretly stalked by a Predator with a mysterious agenda until it learns that Dutch holds something more dear to him than life. This sends the Predator into its own private hell during the worst snowstorm in New York’s recorded history to find Dutch’s heart… and rip it out.” When it was announced that Schwarzenegger wouldn’t be doing acting for a while, because of his Governorship, Park started thinking who could replace him in the role – and was keen to see The Rock take over the reigns.
One of the more well known spec scripts – because of all the publicity it has had – is “Die Hardest”, written by U.K writer Ben Trebilcook. The son of a former copper, Trebilcook felt he could bring something authentic and fun to the “Die Hard” series, so decided to nut out what he thought the fourth “Die Hard” movie should be. His script was actually requested by the people behind the “Die Hard” movies, and for a while there it looked like something might actually happen with it, but the guy never heard anything again.
“Apparently, some people are annoyed that I have attracted so much publicity on the net, even at the support I have gained from various NYPD officials and folks at News Corp”, Trebilcook said in an interview with UGO. He moved on when a writer for “Die Hard 4” (coming out this July as “Live Free or Die Hard”) was hired.
Trebilcook moved onto a spec for a “Mission: Impossible 3”. Same thing there, Cruise’s company requested the outline, but they didn’t end up using his idea.
Trebilcook told the site that just the fact that Cruise wanted a look at the outline was a big confidence booster though. “My heart pounded like a machine gun when I got home one day and my answer phone was flashing. I was such a geek that I recorded the message. It was a Development chick at Cruise/Wagner requesting my script. It’s another long story, but I did a story outline that featured Mr. Cruise’s character from Mission Impossible and had to ‘fit’ it into my own original story, based on an original script I had penned. I had it as a kind of prequel to the first movie. I wanted to bring back Emilio Estevez and Jean Reno. It featured the destruction of various wonders of the world and all seemed to be going well. I heard Oliver Stone and then Ang Lee were linked to it at one stage. It was also a short time before 9/11, one of the most saddest and painful events I can think of. Despite other problems such as guilds, agents and the, ‘Who the hell is Ben Trebilcook?’ factors, the script was a little too close to the mark. I swore nobody would see that script again and they haven’t”.
Interestingly enough, Trebilcook’s outline for “MI:3” is regularly mentioned in interviews, especially by J.J Abrams (director of “MI:3”), but nobody seems to actually tie the storyline to the writer. At present, Trebilcook is pitching his own original piece – which, no doubt, some young kid is going to one day sequalize in his own spec.
The Lost Boys 2 : The Party Isn’t Over Yet
Even though Warner have apparently got their script for a “Lost Boys 2” (planned as a direct-to-dvd release, later this year), that hasn’t stopped a couple of MySpace frequenters from letting the world know that they’ve written a script for a sequel to the 1987 vampire hit – one that they consider much more fan-friendly – and plan on doing it anyway. “I knew I should have shut my mouth on trying to get together a follow-up”, said writer, Jay. “They probably heard the hype of someone else trying to do it, so they [have] hire[d] one of their under paid scripters to crank out crap. I’m going to talk to my partner and see if there is anyway we still can push on with our project to see if we have a chance to have a follow done the right way.”
The scribe said later, “I have been working hard on trying to get a follow up done that would give it the respect it deserves and I think we have it, all I ask is for a little time (by mid summer) and for W.B. just to look at it when it is finished. We would do the Fans, Warner Bros. and the film proud!”. Yep, that’s right – it sounds like the guys are actually going to ‘film something’? Good luck.
Rambo IV : The Holy War
When word got out that Sylvester Stallone was interested in doing another “Rambo” movie, quite a few people had a crack at writing their version of what they thought the film would be. A company called Alpha1media went so far as to announce their plans – and unleash their treatment and outline – on the web, including hitting the PR websites. They honestly tried everything to make sure that their script was the one chosen. Miramax Films received the first draft of ‘Rambo IV: Holy War’ in October 2003, during which the Rambo film saga was still in development hell. In October 2004, Alpha1Media released an early draft of the film treatment on the Internet, drawing global fervour and controversy, and reviving interest in the film franchise for producers and audiences alike. David Morrell, the best-selling author of ‘First Blood’, even gave the treatment his thumbs up. He said the script, which saw John J. Rambo, now working at the United Nations, taking on Islamist terrorists who hijack the institution, was “impressive and remarkably well researched”. These guys had some great PR… but did it ultimately help or hinder?
A Thousand Angels
Several years ago (around 2000, I believe), a company named Phoenixmedia –a U.K outfit – told us of their plans to do a new “Twin Peaks” film. Though they didn’t have the co-operation of David Lynch or Mark Frost, the show’s creators; nor the studio that released the TV series or consequential film (“Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me”), they went to great lengths to get the fan community on their side. I’ve no idea what the script was like (or even if there was one), or what it was about, but I was told at the time that the films title was a reference to “..the scene in the original, where Donna and Laura are looking up at the ceiling and Laura states that even the angels wouldn’t save her.” Follow-up emails to Phoenixmedia bounced back.
Quite a few moons back, a spec script to the Harrison Ford classic “Bladerunner” was doing the rounds. Although the script – called “Bladerunner Down” – was never picked up, the writer Stuart Hazeldine, was. He’s found work. It was all due to his script. In 1998, Aint it Cool gave the spec script a big thumbs up – - and that obviously helped. “Blade Runner Down approaches the world of Blade Runner with great understanding and respect for the atmosphere, setting, and character-interaction which has already been established by [Ridley] Scott. But it also conjures a film that feels a bit different than the first installment. Visually and stylistically, this story has the capacity to equal or transcend “Blade Runner”. There’s a wider variety of settings, circumstances, and ambiance with which a director could work to fashion the world of Los Angeles 2029.” You can read more about the script here .
Batman : The Frightening
Long before David Goyer entered the picture, the net was abuzz that the new ‘Batman’ movie was going to be “Batman : The Frightening”. It was penned by Rafael Yglesias and Terry Hayes, and saw Batman take on The Scarecrow (remember the Marilyn Manson rumour?). Was it a spec? I remember Aint it Cool posting a copy of the script online, but then later forced to take it down, apparently at the request of Warner Bros. Strange. Now why would Warner do that? And why would Warner later register the domain names of the same title? UGO still insist it was fanfic, and far from official. “I checked with a Warner Brothers friend to see if The Frightening really was a script Warner had bought/commissioned to restart the Batfilms. My friend said The Frightening never went through WB. I presume it’s fanfic and, except for a couple moments, not good fanfic at that. Much like Indiana Jones and the Sons of Darkness, the story behind the script is probably more interesting than the script itself. The most frightening thing about The Frightening is that everybody assumed it was real, and nobody tried to find out.” We may never know who is correct here.
Under Siege 3
In recent days, an “Under Siege 3” spec has been getting lots of buzz – notably, at Aint it Cool News – on the net. With good reason too, it’s very solid. It’s the kind of film that could really bring Steven Seagal back to the big leagues – and the script is such a good read, that it could help him stay there. Thing is, it’d be an uphill battle to get Seagal and Warner to shake hands and play nice again. Erika Eleniak, whose character from the first film, Jordan Tate, is actually in the new script, tells Moviehole that she would love to do the film – in fact, the script surprised the heck out of her; she thought any “Under Siege 3” would have to be desperate and inert – but she thinks it’d be a tough thing to put it together (In fact, the only thing that frightens Eleniak about the script is the physical requirements of it. She fears “getting hurt”). But will it happen? Hard to say, but for the moment Erika thinks its pretty safe to say there’s “NO Under Siege 3” in her near future. Whatever the case, this is definitely one of the better spec scripts for a sequel doing the rounds… so maybe Warner will look into it? Or at least give the writer another gig?
Glug, Glug Glug, and what about…..
Support acts. Went to “The Killers” concert last night (at Festival Hall. My god that place is a fuckin’ sauna! I know ya wanna sell beer people, but please, just one air conditioner?! It was fuckin’ unbearable! The two chicks I went with almost passed out – - and not because of the excessive VB consumption) and it got me thinking about support acts. Geez, that’s a hard job. Yeah, Ok, it’s a big break (ya never know who’s watching – and lets face it, that’s a great audience for ya), but it’s a hard gig. Nobody wants to see you. Everybody wants you to hurry up and finish. People couldn’t care less about your music. Anyway, just for next time, keep that in mind : these guys/gals know that you’re not hear to see them (well, probably not), and are as nervous as heck about opening for someone like ‘The Killers’, so give ‘em some slack, and ‘pretend’ to be enjoying their music – even if you’re not.
Speaking of, I once warmed-up a band… an all-girl group… but that’s a story for another time.. and possibly another site.
Caffeinated Clint’s knobhead of the week : Whoever came up with the codename for “The Dark Knight”. Dude. Pleeeeeassssse… “Rory’s First Kiss”?!
Caffeinated Clint smiled when…. : He got word that these rumours that J.J Abrams has been fired from the new “Star Trek” movie are just that… rumours. Not true at all. (Grunberg’s fuckin’ relieved).
Fab but [possibly] Forgotten : Bruce Boxleitner . Bruce, now 56, is one of the best actors of his generation. He rocked on the 80s TV series “Mr and Mrs King” (who can forget that Saturday night guilty pleasure?), more than held his own in the Disney classic “Tron” (1982), and was a sight for sore eyes when he appeared in a small role in the Christian Slater action/comedy “Kuffs” (1992). In more recent years, Bruce has made a name for himself on the TV series “Babylon 5” (1994-1998). Its his role as John Sheridan that is still putting food on the table too, with Bruce recently wrapping work on a new “Babylon 5” telemovie called “Babylon 5 : The Lost Tales – Voices in the Dark”. Now if only they had greenlit that “Tron” sequel.
Please make this movie… : True Lies 2. I think enough time has passed now that we can sit down and watch a film about terrorists again without having to endure sleepless nights, right? That’s essentially the only reason why Jim Cameron didn’t do a sequel – he thought, after September 11, that the world didn’t need to see a movie about terrorists. We probably didn’t. In some respects, we probably still don’t. But there’s always a way around that (Look at “Live Free or Die Hard” – there’s cyber terrorists; not all villains have to be the towel-adorned type, ya know?), right? It’d probably be darn hard getting Schwarzenegger back (what about a cameo? As the new boss), but if the story is there, you could probably throw in some new leads. I’m sure Tom Arnold would be happy for the work. Maybe Jamie Lee Curtis too.
5 movies Caffeinated Clint sat through [possibly again] this week :
1. The Illusionist – Like any good magic trick, there’s a few interesting moments here, but at the end of the day, there’s no knockout trick that’ll send you home singing the illusionist’s praises. In some respects, it’s much like “The Prestige” – the build-up is quite exceptional and exciting (though it moves a little languid in this case), but the pay-off never really comes. It’s like waiting for a rabbit to come out of a hat…only to hear that it’s escaped backstage somewhere.
2. Epic Movie – This film is making a shitload of money. And, well, it’s all your fault. Another unfunny spoof movie – a new one comes out every January it seems – that lets rip its best bits in a trailer, and leaves nothing for the movie. See ya next January.
3. Rocky Balboa – Let’s admit it, Rocky has been giving it a good slug for years now, but his last cinematic bout, “Rocky 5” – still remember seeing it at an empty-theatre on opening day in 1990; pretty sad state of affairs for a series that started out on such a high – was anything but a knockout. Now, with the long-proposed “Rocky Balboa”, Sylvester Stallone finally gives us a match worth watching. It’s so good in fact; you’ll wish cinemas had installed TiVo into the seats.
“Rocky Balboa” could’ve easily ended up like any of the other “Rocky” sequels – and you can’t blame the public’s scepticism; the character had become somewhat of an overblown superhero – but there’s one thing that stopped it from becoming so: Sylvester Stallone. Yep, Stallone’s like a fine wine it seems, he’s gotten better with age – and wise enough to know that you don’t let a studio exec come two-feet within a movie set these days. This is a masterpiece of a sequel. And for the sixth entry in the series, that is really saying something. Sly, you’ve done it! The big guy goes out fighting.
4. For Your Consideration – Sex. Once you’ve done it, you’ll wanna keep on doing it. It doesn’t much matter whether you’re any good at it either – because, well, three quarters of the world are in the same boat. Filmmaker Christopher Guest – renowned for his highly improvisational all-star comedies – considers his mockumentarries (“Waiting for Guffman”, “Best in Show”, “A Mighty Wind”) to be intercourse. Might feel OK to him, but for us, first time was great, second time wasn’t quite as good, and every time since has been a bit of a letdown. He can’t seem to stop and he doesn’t plan on doing so anytime soon.
5. American Pie – Had a look at this again, when it was on cable. What a great teen movie this was… is. It shits all over its sequels. The cast were terrific – Seann William Scott was an absolute blast as Stifler, the first time around, wasn’t he?! – and the writing was just side-splittingly funny. Though Eugene Levy’s shtick is getting very tired now, he was a corker in this. Worth having a look at again if you haven’t seen it in a while.
Words of Wisdom from Mrs Caffeinated Clint :
(A scientist who seems to be able to sum up the world – or a movie – in just a few words, whilst the rest of us feel a page review isn’t even sufficient).
“And they wonder why we don’t watch free to air. They’re starting at Episode 5? Fuckin’ idiots. Why start it there? They’re not even in order!” – Mrs Morris on why she won’t be watching the new TV series “Justice” on Australian TV.
Contact Clint at his MySpace