Monday, February 23, 2009


First, I want to genuinely congratulate all of last night’s winners and nominees. You all deserve the accolades received and you made great contributions to our art and industry. Also, to the producers of the show and Hugh, Great Job!

Now, before I get twenty writers calling me with scripts like Slumdog, I want to post an article from Forbes, their 2nd annual Forbesies.
Not that Slumdog wasn’t great, but I remember the fall of 2002, after the summer when My Big Fat Greek Wedding, (a mediocre film, marketed to women during a summer filled with bad male driven product) did so well and I constantly heard people saying they had something similar to MBFGW.

I urge you not to do this. 1) Hollywood wants things that are, or feel original- see my first blog entry 2) That Slumdog succeeded is great, and it arguably is a watershed event, but it doesn’t change the fact that the odds against it were huge.

I want you to succeed. So, if you’re not yet established as a working, (paid) screenwriter, I suggest first writing scripts that have a higher probability of selling.
And now, on to the Forbesies. I have a small complaint regarding their methodology, but overall it’s a good study tool.

The Movie Biz
The Year's (Truly) Best Pictures
John Burman
(Forbes magazine)
Fans of Warner Bros.' The Dark Knight who are still reeling from its absence in the Best Picture category at the upcoming Academy Awards can take heart--the latest installment in the Batman franchise tops the second annual Forbesies Awards,'s look at the real Best Picture winners, based on box office and critical response. Following The Dark Knight for 2008 honors are Disney/Pixar's WALL-E and another super hero who made his initial big-screen appearance last year, Paramount's Iron Man, based on the Marvel Comics character. In putting together the list, our nominating process, so to speak, was to look at all films released in calendar year 2008 culled from box-office reporting service Box Office Mojo. In Pictures: The Year's (Truly) Best Pictures Next, we took every film that grossed $1 million or more at the North American box office (a universe of nearly 220 films) and charted where they ranked in worldwide box office, according to figures from sources including Box Office Mojo and Exhibitor Relations Co. We then looked at how the film did with critics, using measurements from Each film received a point for its rank in the category. (A finish in the No. 1 spot yields one point; No. 2 yields two points, etc.) The scores were then added together, and the film with the lowest combined number finished on top, indicating consistent placement in the upper tiers of each grouping. Dark Knight's No. 1 slot is familiar territory for the film given its reign at the box office when it was released in summer 2008. It flew out of the gate and finished on top in North America four weekends in a row. Grossing a phenomenal $996.9 million globally in 2008--it is now No. 4 all time worldwide and No. 2 all time at the North America box office with its $530.9 million take stateside in 2008 (those figures have grown in 2009). Director-producer-co-writer Christopher Nolan's film was a huge hit with critics as well, scoring an 82 on MetaCritic. Animated films are well represented on the list with four entries, led by WALL-E, which is nominated for a Best Animated Feature Film Oscar. In finishing at No. 2, it had a global box office take of $518.7 million and a tremendous MetaCritic score of 93. (Disney/Pixar's Ratatouille was No. 1 on the Forbesies list last year.) Also making an appearance is a name from the past who showed he still has muscle with audiences. The return of Indiana Jones to the big screen after 19 years away in Paramount/Lucasfilm's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull proved bountiful as the film finished at No. 5 thanks to a global box office haul of $786.5 million (which was No. 2 in that category behind The Dark Knight) and a MetaCritic score of 65. In looking at trends in the top 10, six films opened in North America in the late spring through summer window, which Hollywood views as its summer period. That makes sense given the availability of audiences during the time, namely kids out of school and the greater potential for repeat business. But it also speaks to quality projects finding their way amidst the clutter of summer given their MetaCritic performances. Late-year debuts often provide a treasure trove for potential Oscar nominees by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science voters. (This year's Best Picture nominees include three that opened in December and two in November.) But only one late-2008 release made it on to this year's Forbesies list: Paramount/DreamWorks Animation's Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (tied at No. 8), which opened Nov. 7 in North America. It showed impressive stats in its shorter window, taking in $473.6 million box office globally and snagging a MetaCritic number of 61. Certainly some films released toward the end of the year were no doubt hindered in North America either due to lack of days in the calendar or, perhaps, by a limited release before going wider in 2009. But, there's always next year--witness the fact that two entries from 2007 made the cut in 2008. At No. 7 is Fox Searchlight's Juno, with 2008 global box office sales of $201.9 million and a MetaCritic score of 81. Tied at No. 8, is Warner Bros.' I Am Legend (2008 global box-office: $361.9 million; MetaCritic score: 65), starring Will Smith, who recently topped the inaugural Forbes Star Currency survey of Hollywood's most bankable actors. On the studio front, Paramount was the most represented with four on the list, including DreamWorks Animation projects. And for those already looking ahead to 2009, your top five in order through Feb. 10: Taken, Hotel For Dogs, My Bloody Valentine 3-D, Notorious and Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. I think the best advice you could have given is for individuals to be original. There are so many movies today that focus on the same underlying themes. Original content is risky, but without taking risks you might never reap the rewards.

    Great post.

    Washington DC film school