Those of us who lament the lack of movies based on original material -- the few that aren't adapted from a book, TV show, or videogame, and that aren't remakes or sequels -- are looking optimistically at the new deal 20th Century Fox has cut this week with a dozen writers. Varietyreports that the writers have agreed to write spec scripts (the kind you write before you get paid, instead of pitching an idea and getting paid to write it up) that Fox will buy at a much lower cost than usual. If the movie goes into production, the screenwriters are guaranteed inclusion in the filmmaking process as producers, so their scripts won't be rewritten without their permission. If the project isn't greenlit by the studio, the writers can actually take back their scripts to keep them from preproduction limbo.

The writers and writing teams include Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine), John August (The Nines, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio (Pirates of the Caribbean), Stuart Beattie (Collateral, Australia), Michael Brandt and Derek Haas (3:10 to Yuma), Tim Herlihy (The Wedding Singer), Simon Kinberg (X-Men: The Last Stand), Craig Mazin (Scary Movie 3), and Marianne and Cormac Wibberley (National Treasure). Notice how many of the films associated with these writers are remakes, sequels and adaptations; this agreement gives them to chance to show us some of their original plots and characters.

August explains the agreement very clearly on his blog -- it's worth reading even if you're familiar with the industry terms Variety uses frequently. He notes that this is an experiment, both for the writers and the studio. The writers get the chance to develop original material and gain more control over the movie itself, and the studio gets to buy into interesting scripts from A-list writers at a bargain price. "While this deal is largely about rights and money, I think it has the potential to lead to some better, more original movies. If so, that's a win for everyone," August concludes.
categories Movies, Cinematical