Typing Faster

July 27, 2009

The Big Hollywood Spec Sale

Filed under: Craft, Marketing, Movies, Scripts, Specs, Stuff I Like, the biz — petertypingfaster @ 9:00 am

It’s a dream for a lot of newbie screenwriters. Having A-List stars attached to your project. Selling it for millions of dollars. Become an overnight star of the writing world (do we even have stars?).

Of course it rarely happens that way, but every now and then it does.

The spec market has been dreadfully quiet in Hollywood lately, but from the sounds of it at least one new writer is getting a golden deal.

First timer Aaron Guzikowski has reportedly signed a deal worth high six / low seven figures for his screenplay Prisoners.

A testament to what one can do with a currently hot trend (the kidnap movie, aka The Taken Effect), some early (rumored) star attachments (Bryan Singer, Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg), and a great script (posted to the right).

And the script really is pretty darn good. Full of tension, and that horrible “can’t-look-away” element that’s all too commonly lacking in dark thrillers. Less of an actioner that Taken, Prisoners relies on the protagonists moral dilemma to sell its story.

When Keller Dover’s daughter disappears, he kidnaps and tortures the man he thinks is responsible. It’s a brutal look at just how far a father will go to save his child. What makes it even more interesting is the number and quality of red herrings that the author seeds throughout the script. We’re never entirely convinced that Keller has the right guy. The fact that he might be torturing an innocent man gives that much more emotional weight to the proceedings.

The script’s really very good, but is it worth a million dollars? I’m not convinced. Taken worked because it was essentially a bad-ass spy movie, the kidnapping was incidental in a lot of ways. Prisoners is much darker, much less action driven, and more of an indie film. Think more Gone Baby Gone than Taken. I’m not sure I’d be willing to fork over a million bucks for an indie feature script in the current economic climate, even with some big name stars attached.

I am glad to see that someone’s selling a spec in this moribund economy though.

Way to keep the dream alive!

Thanks to Scriptshadow for the original tip.


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