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Spec Market Scorecard: 2009 to Date (October 16)
by Jason Scoggins
October 21, 2009
This isn't exactly the return to form I'd been hoping for. The end of the Fall selling season fast approaches, and as you can see from the below numbers the spec market is as flat as it's been since the end of April. Which in retrospect is not that surprising given the past month's remarkable executive turnover (huge changes at the top of Disney and Universal, plus adjustment at Fox) and conflicting messages coming out of the studios.
On the one hand, the majors are saying they're out of money in the short term (Sony and Universal even made public statements regarding curtailed spending on new and existing development, respectively). On the other, a bunch of high profile pitches and other projects have sold since the end of the Summer, including at least a couple in the seven figures.
It's clear from the swings in the number of new scripts on the market week-to-week over the past month (from the last week of September: 4, 17 and 5, and just half a dozen so far this week) that the town is not quite sure what to make of the fact that specs continue not to sell. One would think more than 9% of new spec scripts would get set up coming out of the Summer break, but maybe this is the new normal.
A couple of things are certain, however:
Producers are the new black when it comes to setting up a script. All but one or two of the specs that sold in 2009 were bought by or for a significant if not major producer (and just a handful of this year's sales had big actors or directors attached). This underscores the efficacy of the newly announced development funds secured by Bruckheimer and Parkes/MacDonald. Hopefully we'll see more of these deals in the next several months and the formal emergence of a new class of buyer.
The only reason to take a naked spec out wide right now is to introduce a writer to the town on a wholesale basis (that is to say, there's no good reason to take out a naked spec right now). The dismal statistic continues unabated: Just 2 of the 140 scripts that have gone out wide since May 1 have sold. That's a ridiculously low percentage: 1.4%, not far off (statistically speaking) the percentage of scripts sold during the WGA strike.
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