Decent Proposal

I came across this article on CNN.com yesterday that talks about the failing of star power in Hollywood these days. There’s lots of interesting things said and lots of arbitrary fact thrown around but one part of the piece intrigued me greatly.

For the past few years, monstrous box office hits have often been based on comic books, novels and sequels. And most of them have not had featured well-known actors and actresses. The characters and stories have driven the film’s success.

What a radical freaking concept. Concentrating on characters and story instead of stupid big name pre-madonna actors. And how do we make sure movies have excellent characters and stories?

In fact, Ravid said he’s found in his research that there is a bigger correlation between how much a studio pays for a screenplay and how well the film does than whether or not the movie has a well-known actor or actress in it.

“When studios paid a lot for screenplays, the films typically turned out to be successful. The story is important,” said Ravid. (So the pen is not just mightier than the sword…it’s also more powerful than having high cheekbones.)

This is just amazingly common sense folks. But do you think anyone in Hollywood will listen to this? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Maybe this is why we’re seeing a golden age of television right now. The writer/producers are being given not only more money than their film brethren, but more creative control. That’s why you’re seeing the defection of some big name TV guys like JJ Abrams and Mike Nichols for the smaller screen.

I still have an interest in doing some screenwriting later in my career but I would never consider doing it absent from book work. One of the best ways to get respect and control in the film business is to have a solid body of literary work behind you. Of course that means you could still get screwed, but at least they’ll buy you dinner first.