Posted tagged ‘Bill Martell’

Anatomy of a Failed Movie

May 22, 2010

Since this blog is ostensibly about failure, I think it’s time I address a nagging question I hear all the time: Why do so many Hollywood movies suck?

After all, as writers we’re constantly pushed to produce not just “good” scripts, but great ones if we want to break into the business. We’re told mediocre screenplays will not get you an agent or manager, let alone a deal. Then if you’re lucky enough to sell something, be prepared to do more rewrites at the behest of producers, directors and actors.

So how is it that a “great” script swims upstream against all odds to get the greenlight, and winds up being made into a boring flop? Well, don’t blame it all on the writer — not the original guys, anyway. The current ROBIN HOOD movie is a perfect example of what can go wrong.

In a nutshell what happened was two writers came up with a great twist on the legend: make the Sheriff of Nottingham the good guy — a Sherlock Holmes type sleuth who uses forensics to track down the “terrorist”… Robin Hood. Cool, right? Once A-listers got involved though, the director brought in another writer and they began to change the script. Long story short, they went back to making Robin Hood the hero, and got rid of the stuff that made the original script one of the hottest reads in Hollywood.

Down below you’ll find a much better blow-by-blow description of what transpired by Bill Martell, who also posts advice and comments on the Done Deal site, which I highly recommend for aspiring screenwriters. His blog on “Robbing From the Poor (Writer)” was brought to my attention by a screenwriter friend, Robert Chomiak, on another screenwriting message board I visit too often.

Robert co-wrote the script for a clever Canadian zombie movie called FIDO, which is sort of LASSIE meets NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and satirizes 1950s values. Worth renting on Netflix — it’s actually a PG zombie movie that isn’t too gross or disgusting for the entire family to watch. Which may have been the problem in marketing it. While it was very funny in a droll, understated way, you couldn’t quite sell it as a comedy. Yet it wasn’t scary enough to call it a horror movie either. That’s the danger of mixing genres.

I got a chance to meet Robert and hang out with him while he was vacationing in Hawaii last year. He’s currently writing a comedy with the FIDO director, called MY ASSHOLE NEIGHBOR. Sounds funny, doesn’t it? Having a great title is half the battle in selling a new project, and I think they nailed it.

Anyhow, here’s the link to Bill’s blog post on Robbing From the Poor (Writer).

BTW, as much as I like his writing, I really dislike the white on black reverse print. That’s fine for small chunks of copy, but it’s tough to read long articles or columns with reverse type.

UPDATE: Another good article on what went wrong with ROBIN HOOD from New York Magazine.

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