Less Money To The Actors – More Money To The Screenplay

screenplayI’ve said on The Movie Blog for a long time, that we, as movie going fans, give far too much credit to how much actors factor into how good or bad a movie is. Don’t misunderstand me, actors are important… but FAR MORE IMPORTANT are the director… and the writers.

Actors don’t come up with the story, or the words that they say. That’s the job of the writers. For any movie to stand a chance of being decent, it MUST start with a strong screenplay. And personally, this is where I feel most movies fail.

So here is a question I have. If a great screenplay is the building block for any movie to have a chance at being good… why give 20x more money to the actors, than the people who… you know… actually write the movie?

This is an idea we talked about on yesterdays Audio Edition. Here’s what I would like to suggest:

Instead of giving an actor $15 million dollars in a film, get an actor that will take $3 million (oh how on earth will they survive???). Then, take 10 million, get the 10 best writers available, give them the idea for the movie you want and give them each a million dollars to just take 6 months and each write their own screenplay for that movie idea.

At the end of that process, take the best one, and give that writer the job and to use other ideas from the other scripts to incorporate into their screenplay if they feel it will improve it.

The end result is that you get much better films built on much better screenplays and more money going towards the writers who actually craft these films before the director gets to run with it. It’s a Win/Win//Win situation… except for the uber rich actors who have to take a pay cut… which is fine by me.

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69 thoughts on “Less Money To The Actors – More Money To The Screenplay

  1. What’s up with the entertainment industry, without writers there will be no stories to make. Why do they treat writers like a piece of crap???? What’s the mentality behind that?

  2. Interesting thoughts but you are missing the point entirely.

    Ever since the advent of TV back in the 50s, films have lost a ready made audience that went to the cinema ‘regularly’ for entertainment (more than once a week for many people). Since then film studios have relied more and more on film stars and other marketing ploys to bring the audience back to the cinemas.

    Because there is no more ‘regular’ audience for film product, studios have to bring an audience to the cinema for ‘each’ film they produce and that’s why a recognisable ‘movie star’ gets paid so much money (and why they used to get paid comparatively less during the 30s-40s).

    The only demographic that goes with any regularity to the cinema today is the one aged 14-21 (trying to get out of the house probably), hence why the large majority of movies produced today is lowest common denominator juvenilia unlike 60 years ago.

  3. John,

    If you’re going to talk and debate about screenwriting why not link to these guys who actually do it and know the ins and the outs of the whole shebang.

    http://creativescreenwriting.com/index.html

    The reality of every project is different and trying to set some formula to get the best script is dumb, it’s always a long shot- give me one director or writer who is 10 out of 10.

  4. Generally I think the idea of paying writers a lot more and actors a lot less is a good idea. But what if this had been applied to a recent steetimg pile, say….Superman Returns.

    It would have been a terrible injustice to pay the writers of that tured more than the price of a Happy Meal. Actually, they should have been charged for coming up with such a worthless script.

    I don’t know how much Brandon Routh was paid, but if you divided up all the money alocated to writers/directors/actors on that flick, Routh should have bottn 79 percent, and Spacey 20 percent.

  5. You know why they will never give more money to a script than to an actor? Because AT LEAST HALF (if not more) of your average moviegoer still think actors make up their lines as they go. I sh*t you not.

  6. I have so many things in my head after reading this that the only thing that I can say is: John, you definitly are a st u pid as sho le.

  7. Rowling and Tolkien are very talented I am not bashing them at all. I am saying the studios did’t come up with those concepts by themselves. They just adopted a book, they really didn’t do much because those novel had a built in fan base. The just had to make sure it was adapted properly.

  8. mission Impossible 2 546 million world wide

    Day After Tomorrow – 542.8 Million world wide

    Twister – 494.5 Million world wide

    Godzilla – 379 Million worldwide

    Planet of the Apes $362 Millions

    Men in Black 2 $442 million

    Mrs. Doubtfire $450 million

    Home Alone $477.6 million

    Cris Tucker maybe a talentless hack but……………

    Rush Hour 2 $347 million

    I could go on and on and on

    Lets look at some great screenplays

    The Insider 60 million worldwide on 90 million budget -30 million

    THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION 28 million dollar on a 25 million dollar budget +3 million

    Cinderella Man 108 million on a 88 million dollar budget +20 million

    Heat
    on and on and on

    Studios hate negative returns and profit of 20 mill don’t impress the either. Plus there only getting like 55% of total revenue anyway.

    You do get your gems every once in a while like Blair witch, Greek Wedding, Six sense that moviegoers support but it’s not often enough.

  9. The screen actor guild ranked the top 101 best screenplays of all time

    There are some amazing film on this list but once you get past Casablanca and the Godfather a very large majority of these films did not make a lot of money. I really don’t see how paying the writers more and actors less would be a win win situations for studios. BECAUSE GOOD SCREENPLAY MAKE GOOD MOVIE BUT THEY DON’T REALLY MAKE MONEY. What is running Hollywood right now is special effect companies A-list actor’s a director.

    1. CASABLANCA
    Screenplay by Julius J. & Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch. Based on the play “Everybody Comes to Rick’s” by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison
    FACTS ABOUT THE FILM
    2. THE GODFATHER
    Screenplay by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola. Based on the novel by Mario Puzo
    FACTS ABOUT THE FILM
    3. CHINATOWN
    Written by Robert Towne
    FACTS ABOUT THE FILM
    4. CITIZEN KANE
    Written by Herman Mankiewicz and Orson Welles
    FACTS ABOUT THE FILM
    5. ALL ABOUT EVE
    Screenplay by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Based on “The Wisdom of Eve,” a short story and radio play by Mary Orr
    FACTS ABOUT THE FILM
    6. ANNIE HALL
    Written by Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman
    FACTS ABOUT THE FILM
    7. SUNSET BLVD.
    Written by Charles Brackett & Billy Wilder and D.M. Marshman, Jr.
    FACTS ABOUT THE FILM
    8. NETWORK
    Written by Paddy Chayefsky
    FACTS ABOUT THE FILM
    9. SOME LIKE IT HOT
    Screenplay by Billy Wilder & I.A.L. Diamond. Based on “Fanfare of Love,” a German film written by Robert Thoeren and M. Logan
    FACTS ABOUT THE FILM
    10. THE GODFATHER II
    Screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo. Based on Mario Puzo’s novel “The Godfather”
    FACTS ABOUT THE FILM
    11. BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID
    Written by William Goldman
    12. DR. STRANGELOVE
    Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick and Peter George and Terry Southern. Based on novel “Red Alert” by Peter George
    13. THE GRADUATE
    Screenplay by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry. Based on the novel by Charles Webb
    14. LAWRENCE OF ARABIA
    Screenplay by Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson. Based on the life and writings of Col. T.E. Lawrence
    15. THE APARTMENT
    Written by Billy Wilder & I.A.L. Diamond
    16. PULP FICTION
    Written by Quentin Tarantino. Stories by Quentin Tarantino & Roger Avary
    17. TOOTSIE
    Screenplay by Larry Gelbart and Murray Schisgal. Story by Don McGuire and Larry Gelbart
    18. ON THE WATERFRONT
    Screen Story and Screenplay by Budd Schulberg. Based on “Crime on the Waterfront” articles by Malcolm Johnson
    19. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
    Screenplay by Horton Foote. Based on the novel by Harper Lee
    20. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE
    Screenplay by Frances Goodrich & Albert Hackett & Frank Capra. Based on short story “The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern. Contributions to screenplay Michael Wilson and Jo Swerling
    21. NORTH BY NORTHWEST
    Written by Ernest Lehman
    22. THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION
    Screenplay by Frank Darabont. Based on the short story “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” by Stephen King
    23. GONE WITH THE WIND
    Screenplay by Sidney Howard. Based on the novel by Margaret Mitchell
    24. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
    Screenplay by Charlie Kaufman. Story by Charlie Kaufman & Michel Gondry & Pierre Bismuth
    25. THE WIZARD OF OZ
    Screenplay by Noel Langley and Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf Adaptation by Noel Langley. Based on the novel by L. Frank Baum
    26. DOUBLE INDEMNITY
    Screenplay by Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler. Based on the novel by James M. Cain
    27. GROUNDHOG DAY
    Screenplay by Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis. Story by Danny Rubin
    28. SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE
    Written by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard
    29. SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS
    Written by Preston Sturges
    30. UNFORGIVEN
    Written by David Webb Peoples
    31. HIS GIRL FRIDAY
    Screenplay by Charles Lederer. Based on the play “The Front Page” by Ben Hecht & Charles MacArthur
    32. FARGO
    Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
    33. THE THIRD MAN
    Screenplay by Graham Greene. Story by Graham Greene. Based on the short story by Graham Greene
    34. THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS
    Screenplay by Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman. From a novelette by Ernest Lehman
    35. THE USUAL SUSPECTS
    Written by Christopher McQuarrie
    36. MIDNIGHT COWBOY
    Screenplay by Waldo Salt. Based on the novel by James Leo Herlihy
    37. THE PHILADELPHIA STORY
    Screenplay by Donald Ogden Stewart. Based on the play by Philip Barry
    38. AMERICAN BEAUTY
    Written by Alan Ball
    39. THE STING
    Written by David S. Ward
    40. WHEN HARRY MET SALLY
    Written by Nora Ephron
    41. GOODFELLAS
    Screenplay by Nicholas Pileggi & Martin Scorsese. Based on book “Wise Guy” by Nicholas Pileggi
    42. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK
    Screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan. Story by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman
    43. TAXI DRIVER
    Written by Paul Schrader
    44. THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES
    Screenplay by Robert E. Sherwood. Based on novel “Glory For Me” by MacKinley Kantor
    45. ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST
    Screenplay by Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman. Based on the novel by Ken Kesey
    46. THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE
    Screenplay by John Huston. Based on the novel by B. Traven
    47. THE MALTESE FALCON
    Screenplay by John Huston. Based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett
    48. THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI
    Screenplay by Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson. Based on the novel by Pierre Boulle
    49. SCHINDLER’S LIST
    Screenplay by Steven Zaillian. Based on the novel by Thomas Keneally
    50. THE SIXTH SENSE
    Written by M. Night Shyamalan
    51. BROADCAST NEWS
    Written by James L. Brooks
    52. THE LADY EVE
    Screenplay by Preston Sturges. Story by Monckton Hoffe
    53. ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN
    Screenplay by William Goldman. Based on the book by Carl Bernstein & Bob Woodward
    54. MANHATTAN
    Written by Woody Allen & Marshall Brickman
    55. APOCALYPSE NOW
    Written by John Milius and Francis Coppola. Narration by Michael Herr
    56. BACK TO THE FUTURE
    Written by Robert Zemeckis & Bob Gale
    57. CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS
    Written by Woody Allen
    58. ORDINARY PEOPLE
    Screenplay by Alvin Sargent. Based on the novel by Judith Guest
    59. IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT
    Screenplay by Robert Riskin. Based on the story “Night Bus” by Samuel Hopkins Adams
    60. L.A. CONFIDENTIAL
    Screenplay by Brian Helgeland & Curtis Hanson. Based on the novel by James Ellroy
    61. THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS
    Screenplay by Ted Tally. Based on the novel by Thomas Harris
    62. MOONSTRUCK
    Written by John Patrick Shanley
    63. JAWS
    Screenplay by Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb. Based on the novel by Peter Benchley
    64. TERMS OF ENDEARMENT
    Screenplay by James L. Brooks. Based on the novel by Larry McMurtry
    65. SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN
    Screen Story and Screenplay by Betty Comden & Adolph Green. Based on the song by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown
    66. JERRY MAGUIRE
    Written by Cameron Crowe
    67. E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL
    Written by Melissa Mathison
    68. STAR WARS
    Written by George Lucas
    69. DOG DAY AFTERNOON
    Screenplay by Frank Pierson. Based on a magazine article by P.F. Kluge and Thomas Moore
    70. THE AFRICAN QUEEN
    Screenplay by James Agee and John Huston. Based on the novel by C.S. Forester
    71. THE LION IN WINTER
    Screenplay by James Goldman. Based on the play by James Goldman
    72. THELMA & LOUISE
    Written by Callie Khouri
    73. AMADEUS
    Screenplay by Peter Shaffer. Based on his play
    74. BEING JOHN MALKOVICH
    Written by Charlie Kaufman
    75. HIGH NOON
    Screenplay by Carl Foreman. Based on short story “The Tin Star” by John W. Cunningham
    76. RAGING BULL
    Screenplay by Paul Schrader and Mardik Martin. Based on the book by Jake La Motta with Joseph Carter and Peter Savage
    77. ADAPTATION
    Screenplay by Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman. Based on the book “The Orchid Thief” by Susan Orlean
    78. ROCKY
    Written by Sylvester Stallone
    79. THE PRODUCERS
    Written by Mel Brooks
    80. WITNESS
    Screenplay by Earl W. Wallace & William Kelley. Story by William Kelley and Pamela Wallace & Earl W. Wallace
    81. BEING THERE
    Screenplay by Jerzy Kosinski. Inspired by the novel by Jerzy Kosinski
    82. COOL HAND LUKE
    Screenplay by Donn Pearce and Frank Pierson. Based on the novel by Donn Pearce
    83. REAR WINDOW
    Screenplay by John Michael Hayes. Based on the short story by Cornell Woolrich
    84. THE PRINCESS BRIDE
    Screenplay by William Goldman. Based on his novel
    85. LA GRANDE ILLUSION
    Written by Jean Renoir and Charles Spaak
    86. HAROLD & MAUDE
    Written by Colin Higgins
    87. 8 1/2
    Screenplay by Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, Ennio Flaiano, Brunello Rond. Story by Fellini, Flaiano
    88. FIELD OF DREAMS
    Screenplay by Phil Alden Robinson. Based on the book by W.P. Kinsella
    89. FORREST GUMP
    Screenplay by Eric Roth. Based on the novel by Winston Groom
    90. SIDEWAYS
    Screenplay by Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor. Based on the novel by Rex Pickett
    91. THE VERDICT
    Screenplay by David Mamet. Based on the novel by Barry Reed
    92. PSYCHO
    Screenplay by Joseph Stefano. Based on the novel by Robert Bloch
    93. DO THE RIGHT THING
    Written by Spike Lee
    94. PATTON
    Screen Story and Screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. North. Based on “A Soldier’s Story” by Omar H. Bradley and “Patton: Ordeal and Triumph” by Ladislas Farago
    95. HANNAH AND HER SISTERS
    Written by Woody Allen
    96. THE HUSTLER
    Screenplay by Sidney Carroll & Robert Rossen. Based on the novel by Walter Tevis
    97. THE SEARCHERS
    Screenplay by Frank S. Nugent. Based on the novel by Alan Le May
    98. THE GRAPES OF WRATH
    Screenplay by Nunnally Johnson. Based on the novel by John Steinbeck
    99. THE WILD BUNCH
    Screenplay by Walon Green and Sam Peckinpah. Story by Walon Green and Roy Sickner
    100. MEMENTO
    Screenplay by Christopher Nolan. Based on the short story “Memento Mori” by Jonathan Nolan
    101. NOTORIOUS
    Written by Ben Hecht

  10. Oh, and Chi… “Casablanca” ?

    The point is it was a classic film with a well written script. But here’s something that might jolt you: who is to say that it WON’T work today? Before someone thinks I’m smoking something, let me put this out:

    How old was Lauren Bacall when she made the movie?
    How old was Bogie?

    How many films in the past ten years have had such romances between an older man and a younger woman, or the roles reversed?

    How many films in the past ten years have been period pieces?

    How many films in the past ten years have had some sort of political intrigue?

    How many films in the past year had a romantic love story?

    Yes, it’s more likely a studio might get more milage out of Sam Spade or maybe “Key Largo” …

  11. Does “Lord Of The Rings” **really** fit that criteria, Chisox?
    I always thought it had more wider appeal than just the teen crowd. Besides, according to the story (and, by the way, JRR Tolkien was a very talented fellow, I understand, and those who adapted his works won Oscars) not one of the characters fit your criteria :

    1) “a child or adolescent protagonist,”
    2) a “fairy-tale plot in which a weak or ineffectual youth is transformed into a powerful and purposeful hero,”
    3) “bizarre-looking and eccentric supporting characters that are appropriate for toy and game licensing,”

    Regarding Rings, the first is incorrect. Not one character was a child or adolscent. Not one. Not Legolas, not Frodo, not Sam. The second point is also innaccurate because the Hobbits (who would be the youngest of the Fellowship) were never transformed into a ‘powerful and purposeful hero’. The only character who was really transformed was Gandalf. And Gandalf was neither youthful nor ineffectual. As far as the third goes, I guess you could mean Gollum….but Gollum is no Jar Jar Binks. Not to mention Gollum was thought up in Tolkien’s books and not for toy liscening. Besides, have the Gollum dolls really been a hot ticket at Christmas time?

    On the same note, JK Rowling is also doing fairly well for a writer, I hear.

  12. Screenwriters don’t open movies. A-list stars do. Great scripts with no name talent don’t open big. A producer’s job is to make money. If a movie doesn’t open big, there is far less money to be made.

    It’s a nice idea. But A-list writers still make a lot of dough as it is now and the best script out there will open bigger if it has a name people like in it.

    xp

  13. Goddamnit. I went home and missed this whole – very interesting – discussion, which sucks since I believe I’m partly responsible for it.

    John – you’re great, but you’re also a little naive. If a writer does something wonderful and creates a worthy screenplay, the odds are stacked horribly against him. The director (King Ego) is going to reinterpret it. The actors (Prince and Princess Ego) are going to change it around depending on the needs of their perceived fanbase. The studios will have ‘notes’, all of which come from marketing tests rather than the desire to tell a good story. After all this, he is likely to find his intricately structured, beautifully paced work he sweated blood over has been gutted and turned into a Martin Lawrence vehicle.

    These stories are common, and it’s lead to a situation where good writers either don’t go there, or they whore themselves for a quick buck. That produces BAD work.

    A good screenplay isn’t the only thing a film needs, but it’s a very important element, and it’s incredibly rare they survive the production process (that’s assuming they get made at all).

  14. I’m not convinced on the 10 Writers bit… Hollywood would just grab the best “action” scenes out of each and make a movie that doesn’t gel.

    They’d be better off looking at Literature for NEW ideas – not remakes…

    A good example… They remade John Carpenter’s “The Fog” instead of Making James Herbert’s “The Fog”.

    Books are WRITTEN with STORY in Mind, rather than Special Effects. Hollywood should be paying more attention to the real “WRITERS”.

  15. Yes Casablanca is a great film but if that film was adapted and released today it would not do too well. I know it’s a hard pill to swallow but the days of studios putting out films for artistc value is long gone. Gone since the 80’s if you ask me. It is now a corparate buisness and they are following a buisness model that will make them the most money.
    This bit of fact should jolt you, it astoniched me.
    “The massive moviegoing audience that had nurtured the [old] studio system simply no longer exists,” Epstein writes. “In contrast to the 4.7 billion movie tickets sold in America in 1947, there were only 1.57 billion tickets sold in 2003. So, even though the population had almost doubled, movie theaters sold 3.1 billion fewer tickets than they had in 1947.” In the years immediately after World War II, theatrical releases accounted for 100 percent of the studios’ worldwide revenues; in 2003 they accounted for a mere 18 percent. Where do the movie companies make their money now? From what lawyers call “intellectual properties” — “licensing their filmed entertainment for home viewing” on DVDs, videotapes, broadcast and cable television programs, and selling spin-offs (dolls, games, books and the like) from movies aimed primarily at children, such as the Disney animated films and the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy”.

    Very sad but true.

    The blockbusters are aimed at children and teenagers and are scripted according to “the Midas formula,” the ingredients of which include “a child or adolescent protagonist,” a “fairy-tale plot in which a weak or ineffectual youth is transformed into a powerful and purposeful hero,” “bizarre-looking and eccentric supporting characters that are appropriate for toy and game licensing,” a happy ending “with the hero prevailing over powerful villains and supernatural forces” and “conventional or digital animation to artificially create action sequences, supernatural forces . . . and elaborate settings.” In two words: “Harry Potter.” In four: “Lord of the Rings.

    No need to be really talented to wright a sript for this stuff.

  16. “Good writing makes a movie endure and become a classic. Look at Casablanca. Great actors speak awesome dialogue.”

    Lou–! You rule.

    Well Documented Trivia:

    Has anyone ever heard about that “reality check” some Hollywood exceutive did with the script of “Casablanca” back in the mid 80’s? He put the original title on (“Everybody Comes To Rick’s”) and passed it around to keep his readers on thier toes. Only a few saw it for what it was. Most of the notes he got back was “too talky”, “not enough sex” and “not good enough” to make a “decent movie”.

  17. ok.. i’m trying to tell you guys… scripts are over-rated!

    The end product of a film most of the times doesn’t resemble that was originally written on the page. Directors like John Woo don’t care about the script because once he’s read the script, he already knows what the film would be. He wants the film to be organic and unpredictable for himself or else he’d be bored.

  18. again, i think all of you guys are over-emphasizing the importance of a script. We need a real hollywood filmmaker’s perspective to know what a script truly means. I used to think when i was a kid that scripts described everything on the screen, but then i actually looked at a few movie scripts. this showed me how wrong i was!

    scripts generally don’t describe action scenes, they don’t include many CGI stuff. usually they are mainly used to dialogue, but then again, dialogue isn’t that important in a movie.

    I think it changes from film to film about how important the script is, and how the director thinks the script should be envisioned.

    not only does a script gets tinkered with on set by actors, directors, producers, script doctors, but an editor too. In television productions too, the scripts are never set in stone. Look at the Simpsons, or your average sitcom, do you think one person wrote that script? Sure one person took the credit, but he/she surely didn’t write the whole thing. and probably lots of jokes are written on the fly during filming.

  19. Making a movie without a well-written script and you end up with a SW prequel.

    Good writing makes a movie endure and become a classic. Look at Casablanca. Great actors speak awesome dialogue.

    Ask any actor where they would be without a writer.

    Actors sell characters. Writers create characters. And stories. And ideas. And…well everything.

  20. Just a sec. Re-read your post and we’re talking about completely different things anyway. I’m talking about good movies you’re talking about making money, in which case you’re right.

    Sucks to be a cinema-goer nowadays, it seems.

  21. 1. Wrong

    2. Wrong

    3. Wrong

    (Damn, I hate this genre-bashing shite.)

    A GREAT movie still needs a GREAT script. If you want a good film then get a good script. Simple as. Bad films can make as much money as they like but they will always remain bad films. I’m not saying bad films can’t be disguised in flashy effects to make money – The Matrix sequels proves that they can – but they’ll be quickly forgotten. The Exorcist, The Apartment and Die Hard are all great films from the ground up, starting with the script. These films are still damn good decades later, The Matrix Reloaded or Underworld will suck even harder.

  22. YES Marty in a around the bush why I am saying you don’t need a very good script for the three types of films that I have listed above.
    1. The action adventure
    2. The horror film
    3. The comedy

    These types of films are the ones dominating the box office right now. This is the sad reality. I love my serious drama so it pains me time and time again when a garbage film goes on to do really well and a film like the Insider which cost 90 million to make go on to make only 29 million. Cinderella Man etc, there are so many examples. Studio exec, shareholders don’t like these type of losses. With the pirating exploding (My sister downloaded 2hr and 30 min movie in 7min) shareholders are very nervous because studios make a hole lot of money from DVDs. If it is allowed to progress to the point it becomes acceptable to just download films illegally(like what’s happening to the music industry) then watch out. You’ll have movies catered to teens all year round every week. Teens are the only demographic that will constantly support products catered to them. The studio knows this. A lot of people(I am on of them) think the people who run studios are dumb. But when you really look at the issues hard you’ll see that when they do make certain decision is not some wacky out of the blue idea. These people didn’t become billionaires and millionaires by being stupid.

  23. Darren I am glad you brought up The Insider. It’s not a major secret that Micheal Mann films don’t make money. (Don’t ask me why cuz I love them) He falls under the same category as a Scorsese who usually has the studio licking their wounds when its all said and done. Al Pacino for this generation is not a major draw at all. He hasn’t done much box office wise since the Dick Tracy movie(check his record) Russell is A list but……………….

    The studio’s are starting to realize 3 things.
    1. That if you combine special effects with a popular actor the percentage for success is very high.

    2. Comedy is the only genre of film (without special effect)combined with a popular actor that has the legs to be successful theatrically

    3. When you can make Horror films for 2-5 mill and the constantly make between 50-100 million theatrically, you’ve just hit a gold mine.
    Do you notice that your seeing a lot of horror films being released all year round now. Well Saw started all that.

    There was a big write up about this in the New York Times a few months back.

    Studio’s really hate being in the red once a movie is done theatrically. We not even talking about the amount of money spent on marketing. All you people hailing Clerks 2 as a huge success well it was and it wasn’t. It made it’s production money back but the studio had to promote it with millions of dollars. A return of about 40 million is what I would have considered a success.

    Anyway the studio’s know they need the actors more that anybody else. That’s why they get paid the salary they do. If they didnt need them a system like John’s would have been implemented a long time ago. Look at it this way the Cardinals aren’t going to trade Albert Pujols and bring up a minor leaguer to save money. They need Albert to put fans in the seat, Albert knows this so he demands a high salary. This is the formula at play with all forms of entertainment.

  24. So, are people actually trying to argue that the script isn’t very important here?

    I hope you folks don’t work any movies I want to see.

    Darren: Told you someone would be a smart arse! :D

  25. Chi, I noted that #250 was “The Insider”.
    If your list is supposed to prove your point, it instead deflates it, unless you mean to say Russell Crowe and Al Pacino aren’t big A list actors.

    Alsom Number 1 and 2…the writers of those two films…and, say (picked at random) #23…I’m sure they can take as much credit as they want…

    …I will not speak the obvious answer of what James Cameron, George Lucas and M. Night also do besides write, but I’m sure you can figure it out.

  26. “Ummm… why on earth would the screenwriter be there? Why would he/she even want to be there? Their job is already done… they have other things to do.”

    WHAT!
    Hold your tounge!

    No, John…the job is “not” done. Why on earth would a screenwriter be there? How about to make changes in the script that the director wants to make? If it isn’t the same writer, it sure as heck will be another. Do they have to be there? No- but they have to be accessable. To say that the work is “done” is one of the oddest things I heard you say or write.

    -sealer

  27. Mero, the movie wouldn’t exist without a script. The director can do whatever he likes but that doesn’t make the scriptwriter unimportant. He’s simply not the boss.

    This stuff about writers not being allowed on stage is not a rule. Plenty of directors have great relationships with writers, working with the same ones many times. The reason a lot of writers don’t go on the set – I’m sure this is in Goldman’s book too – is that there’s nothing for them to do. They just stand around and watch. Also, as Sidney Lumet points out in his book, the writers are very often at REHEARSAL. And that is where the majority of the dialogue or whatever is adapted to suit the actors. Some things work on paper that won’t work on screen. That’s just how it is.

    The writers serve the director’s vision, as does everybody on a film set, but the director took the job in the first place because of the script. He is trying to tell the writer’s story in the best way he can. Therefore, script = important. Oh, and the fact that movies are stories. There’s always that.

  28. I’m not sure I follow why the lists of best and top grossing movies factor into this equation. They prove that the movies made money and were popular but it doesn’t say anything for originality and creativity. To boot, a big chunch of those movies are based on books.

    I agree with John that something needs to happen in regards to these actors making so much money. It’s been getting particularly out of hand over the last few years. This may have something to do with why we now pay an average of $10 for a movie ticket. That’s more than an hour’s worth of work at minimum wage. I doubt that actors making less will have any effect on these astronomical ticket prices but I would love to see some sort of thanks to the people that keep paying their bloody bills and maybe making the best possible movie is the way to do. Is it really too much to ask?????

    I’m not sure John’s suggestion is the best one but it’s the best one I’ve heard so far.

  29. My point is big named actors and special effects carry movies. John I like your business model for cleaning up the pig pen but as a studio I stand to loose more money that way.
    I do think in the future actors will be obsolete because of a shift towards CG. We already see some director experimenting with that technology now (Robert Zemekcus, James Cameron etc). Just checkout Final Fantasy Advent Children. That’s like 20 years from happening though.

  30. TOP 250 best films of all time( Voted by IMDB)
    I went 250 because people have different opinions

    I see a lot of magnificent films here, a lot of magnificent screenplays. But a very very large number of these films as good as they are were box office stinkers.

    1. 9.1 The Godfather (1972) 173,296
    2. 9.0 The Shawshank Redemption (1994) 208,883
    3. 8.9 The Godfather: Part II (1974) 98,541
    4. 8.8 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) 157,248
    5. 8.8 Casablanca (1942) 85,382
    6. 8.8 Schindler’s List (1993) 127,012
    7. 8.8 Shichinin no samurai (1954) 45,604
    8. 8.7 Buono, il brutto, il cattivo, Il (1966) 46,968
    9. 8.7 Pulp Fiction (1994) 180,050
    10. 8.7 Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) 136,730
    11. 8.7 Star Wars (1977) 172,912
    12. 8.7 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) 91,563
    13. 8.7 Rear Window (1954) 54,105
    14. 8.7 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) 201,806
    15. 8.6 12 Angry Men (1957) 40,311
    16. 8.6 The Usual Suspects (1995) 133,561
    17. 8.6 Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) 118,111
    18. 8.6 Cidade de Deus (2002) 48,766
    19. 8.6 Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) 81,918
    20. 8.6 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) 157,847
    21. 8.6 Citizen Kane (1941) 76,712
    22. 8.6 Psycho (1960) 68,933
    23. 8.6 Goodfellas (1990) 92,076
    24. 8.6 C’era una volta il West (1968) 26,122
    25. 8.6 Memento (2000) 121,530
    26. 8.6 North by Northwest (1959) 45,957
    27. 8.5 The Silence of the Lambs (1991) 116,768
    28. 8.5 Lawrence of Arabia (1962) 40,145
    29. 8.5 Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain, Le (2001) 82,501
    30. 8.5 It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) 51,924
    31. 8.5 Sunset Blvd. (1950) 22,530
    32. 8.5 Fight Club (1999) 155,376
    33. 8.5 American Beauty (1999) 140,640
    34. 8.5 The Matrix (1999) 184,744
    35. 8.5 Vertigo (1958) 43,982
    36. 8.4 Taxi Driver (1976) 63,808
    37. 8.4 Apocalypse Now (1979) 84,195
    38. 8.4 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) 81,316
    39. 8.4 Paths of Glory (1957) 19,540
    40. 8.4 Untergang, Der (2004) 25,228
    41. 8.4 To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) 40,058
    42. 8.4 Se7en (1995) 118,479
    43. 8.4 Léon (1994) 75,027
    44. 8.4 Chinatown (1974) 34,344
    45. 8.4 American History X (1998) 84,506
    46. 8.4 The Third Man (1949) 24,402
    47. 8.4 The Pianist (2002) 47,250
    48. 8.4 Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (2001) 38,681
    49. 8.4 Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) 79,723
    50. 8.3 Boot, Das (1981) 36,968
    51. 8.3 Hotel Rwanda (2004) 27,902
    52. 8.3 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) 13,934
    53. 8.3 The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) 28,821
    54. 8.3 Requiem for a Dream (2000) 70,489
    55. 8.3 M (1931) 16,583
    56. 8.3 L.A. Confidential (1997) 87,035
    57. 8.3 The Maltese Falcon (1941) 25,134
    58. 8.3 Alien (1979) 81,885
    59. 8.3 A Clockwork Orange (1971) 86,133
    60. 8.3 Metropolis (1927) 16,472
    61. 8.3 Reservoir Dogs (1992) 92,359
    62. 8.3 Sin City (2005) 87,084
    63. 8.3 Rashômon (1950) 16,272
    64. 8.3 Saving Private Ryan (1998) 128,850
    65. 8.3 The Shining (1980) 69,161
    66. 8.3 Modern Times (1936) 14,218
    67. 8.3 Double Indemnity (1944) 15,481
    68. 8.3 Singin’ in the Rain (1952) 26,621
    69. 8.3 Raging Bull (1980) 36,747
    70. 8.3 The Manchurian Candidate (1962) 18,369
    71. 8.3 Million Dollar Baby (2004) 48,678
    72. 8.3 All About Eve (1950) 16,988
    73. 8.3 Some Like It Hot (1959) 32,936
    74. 8.3 Aliens (1986) 81,197
    75. 8.3 Rebecca (1940) 15,407
    76. 8.2 The Great Escape (1963) 27,006
    77. 8.2 Vita è bella, La (1997) 49,350
    78. 8.2 Touch of Evil (1958) 15,302
    79. 8.2 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) 81,563
    80. 8.2 Amadeus (1984) 47,343
    81. 8.2 The Sting (1973) 30,801
    82. 8.2 Batman Begins (2005) 90,005
    83. 8.2 Jaws (1975) 62,649
    84. 8.2 On the Waterfront (1954) 17,541
    85. 8.2 Strangers on a Train (1951) 14,449
    86. 8.2 The Incredibles (2004) 55,008
    87. 8.2 Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) 15,296
    88. 8.2 Forrest Gump (1994) 121,755
    89. 8.2 Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) 94,557
    90. 8.2 The Wizard of Oz (1939) 49,468
    91. 8.2 The Apartment (1960) 15,039
    92. 8.2 City Lights (1931) 10,644
    93. 8.2 Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) 99,900
    94. 8.2 Braveheart (1995) 117,877
    95. 8.2 Sjunde inseglet, Det (1957) 13,819
    96. 8.2 Crash (2004/I) 63,491
    97. 8.2 Nuovo cinema Paradiso (1989) 18,985
    98. 8.2 Ran (1985) 16,382
    99. 8.2 Blade Runner (1982) 92,549
    100. 8.2 Donnie Darko (2001) 82,491
    101. 8.2 High Noon (1952) 16,159
    102. 8.2 Full Metal Jacket (1987) 63,626
    103. 8.2 The Big Sleep (1946) 13,306
    104. 8.2 The Elephant Man (1980) 22,387
    105. 8.2 Notorious (1946) 14,187
    106. 8.2 Fargo (1996) 82,251
    107. 8.1 The Great Dictator (1940) 14,600
    108. 8.1 Finding Nemo (2003) 61,879
    109. 8.1 Mononoke-hime (1997) 27,660
    110. 8.1 Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983) 108,693
    111. 8.1 Once Upon a Time in America (1984) 27,301
    112. 8.1 Salaire de la peur, Le (1953) 4,477
    113. 8.1 Cool Hand Luke (1967) 18,826
    114. 8.1 The Sixth Sense (1999) 123,048
    115. 8.1 Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004) 69,161
    116. 8.1 Annie Hall (1977) 28,669
    117. 8.1 Oldboy (2003) 26,060
    118. 8.1 Wo hu cang long (2000) 63,895
    119. 8.1 Yojimbo (1961) 12,660
    120. 8.1 Unforgiven (1992) 40,780
    121. 8.1 Ben-Hur (1959) 27,271
    122. 8.1 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) 78,799
    123. 8.1 The Princess Bride (1987) 68,087
    124. 8.1 Back to the Future (1985) 89,862
    125. 8.1 The Killing (1956) 9,770
    126. 8.1 Notti di Cabiria, Le (1957) 3,554
    127. 8.1 Life of Brian (1979) 43,859
    128. 8.1 The Green Mile (1999) 81,769
    129. 8.0 It Happened One Night (1934) 10,606
    130. 8.0 The Deer Hunter (1978) 37,871
    131. 8.0 Ladri di biciclette (1948) 10,296
    132. 8.0 The Graduate (1967) 37,018
    133. 8.0 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) 26,363
    134. 8.0 Platoon (1986) 47,147
    135. 8.0 Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) 5,091
    136. 8.0 The General (1927) 8,830
    137. 8.0 V for Vendetta (2005) 56,880
    138. 8.0 Toy Story 2 (1999) 52,991
    139. 8.0 The African Queen (1951) 17,456
    140. 8.0 Gladiator (2000) 121,949
    141. 8.0 Per qualche dollaro in più (1965) 13,729
    142. 8.0 Amores perros (2000) 22,607
    143. 8.0 The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) 9,948
    144. 8.0 Lola rennt (1998) 42,310
    145. 8.0 Diaboliques, Les (1955) 4,770
    146. 8.0 Brief Encounter (1945) 4,204
    147. 8.0 Duck Soup (1933) 12,969
    148. 8.0 Shadow of a Doubt (1943) 8,204
    149. 8.0 The Night of the Hunter (1955) 10,367
    150. 8.0 Gandhi (1982) 20,957
    151. 8.0 Battaglia di Algeri, La (1966) 3,828
    152. 8.0 The Conversation (1974) 13,858
    153. 8.0 Smultronstället (1957) 7,715
    154. 8.0 Glory (1989) 27,593
    155. 8.0 Patton (1970) 18,894
    156. 8.0 8½ (1963) 11,282
    157. 8.0 Harvey (1950) 10,350
    158. 8.0 Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922) 11,832
    159. 8.0 Stand by Me (1986) 40,589
    160. 8.0 Die Hard (1988) 75,727
    161. 8.0 Cabinet des Dr. Caligari., Das (1920) 5,677
    162. 8.0 The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) 13,449
    163. 8.0 Ying xiong (2002) 36,990
    164. 8.0 Dog Day Afternoon (1975) 21,266
    165. 8.0 Belle et la bête, La (1946) 3,511
    166. 8.0 The Philadelphia Story (1940) 13,707
    167. 8.0 Cinderella Man (2005) 22,547
    168. 7.9 Finding Neverland (2004) 36,363
    169. 7.9 The Gold Rush (1925) 8,617
    170. 7.9 Gone with the Wind (1939) 37,845
    171. 7.9 A Christmas Story (1983) 26,112
    172. 7.9 The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) 8,077
    173. 7.9 Spartacus (1960) 22,485
    174. 7.9 Tengoku to jigoku (1963) 2,847
    175. 7.9 The Grapes of Wrath (1940) 10,377
    176. 7.9 Before Sunset (2004) 17,616
    177. 7.9 Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) 16,440
    178. 7.9 Mystic River (2003) 44,277
    179. 7.9 Shrek (2001) 86,450
    180. 7.9 Toy Story (1995) 59,234
    181. 7.9 Magnolia (1999) 60,483
    182. 7.9 Groundhog Day (1993) 59,251
    183. 7.9 Trainspotting (1996) 68,186
    184. 7.9 Big Fish (2003) 51,224
    185. 7.9 The Hustler (1961) 10,978
    186. 7.9 Quatre cents coups, Les (1959) 9,095
    187. 7.9 Out of the Past (1947) 3,913
    188. 7.9 The Wild Bunch (1969) 14,112
    189. 7.9 The Exorcist (1973) 45,661
    190. 7.9 The Lady Vanishes (1938) 6,420
    191. 7.9 Walk the Line (2005) 31,146
    192. 7.9 The Big Lebowski (1998) 69,395
    193. 7.9 King Kong (1933) 16,729
    194. 7.9 Twelve Monkeys (1995) 79,779
    195. 7.9 Ed Wood (1994) 31,449
    196. 7.9 Kumonosu jô (1957) 5,113
    197. 7.9 Stalag 17 (1953) 9,416
    198. 7.9 The Straight Story (1999) 19,616
    199. 7.9 Hable con ella (2002) 18,169
    200. 7.9 Anatomy of a Murder (1959) 5,441
    201. 7.9 Heat (1995) 60,657
    202. 7.9 Manhattan (1979) 16,421
    203. 7.9 Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) 5,014
    204. 7.9 Idi i smotri (1985) 2,003
    205. 7.9 Witness for the Prosecution (1957) 6,942
    206. 7.9 Bride of Frankenstein (1935) 6,696
    207. 7.9 The Terminator (1984) 76,911
    208. 7.9 Young Frankenstein (1974) 29,009
    209. 7.9 Du rififi chez les hommes (1955) 2,539
    210. 7.9 Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) 14,616
    211. 7.9 Snatch. (2000) 63,858
    212. 7.9 In the Heat of the Night (1967) 9,501
    213. 7.9 Sleuth (1972) 6,224
    214. 7.9 Sling Blade (1996) 25,606
    215. 7.9 All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) 9,336
    216. 7.9 Monsters, Inc. (2001) 52,682
    217. 7.9 Inherit the Wind (1960) 5,024
    218. 7.9 Roman Holiday (1953) 12,894
    219. 7.9 The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) 9,726
    220. 7.9 Sweet Smell of Success (1957) 3,346
    221. 7.9 Bringing Up Baby (1938) 12,127
    222. 7.9 Himmel über Berlin, Der (1987) 9,461
    223. 7.9 Festen (1998) 15,692
    224. 7.9 Hotaru no haka (1988) 11,468
    225. 7.9 Bonnie and Clyde (1967) 16,968
    226. 7.9 Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) 47,740
    227. 7.9 The Lost Weekend (1945) 4,012
    228. 7.9 Rosemary’s Baby (1968) 17,709
    229. 7.9 The Thing (1982) 25,860
    230. 7.9 The Searchers (1956) 13,514
    231. 7.9 Brazil (1985) 39,567
    232. 7.9 Umberto D. (1952) 2,150
    233. 7.9 Scarface (1983) 47,219
    234. 7.9 His Girl Friday (1940) 9,142
    235. 7.9 Frankenstein (1931) 9,001
    236. 7.9 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) 96,412
    237. 7.9 Ikiru (1952) 6,411
    238. 7.9 No Man’s Land (2001) 10,033
    239. 7.8 Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005) 92,952
    240. 7.8 Haine, La (1995) 8,703
    241. 7.8 Doctor Zhivago (1965) 13,782
    242. 7.8 Central do Brasil (1998) 10,943
    243. 7.8 A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) 13,341
    244. 7.8 A Man for All Seasons (1966) 5,913
    245. 7.8 Charade (1963) 12,380
    246. 7.8 Almost Famous (2000) 51,584
    247. 7.8 Harold and Maude (1971) 12,241
    248. 7.8 Brokeback Mountain (2005) 53,373
    249. 7.8 Planet of the Apes (1968) 26,520
    250. 7.8 The Insider (1999)

  31. Where did I hear that screenwriters are unimportant?

    I just heard it thru some interviews and reading screenwriting magazines. Screenwriting is a very difficult business if you care about how your work gets put onto screen. It can get heartbreaking if you are very attached to your work.

    the reasons they don’t allow writers on the stage is because they always rewrite what the writer has written so they won’t get the original writer angry or upset. It seems to me that films are made up as they go along, or else how can they change dialogue and rewrite scenes as they are filming it out of sequence? Like I said before, the history behind the making a film is always a mystery to me. And we can’t generalize about how filmmaking works because it’s different for each film. Some directors care about the writer’s words, some don’t. Sometimes the writer is the director.

  32. Top 100 grossing films of all time

    Not a lot of originality here. I don’t know how much credit a writer can get for a idea that was already crated. There are a few gems on this list though. (Home Alone)

    1 Titanic Par. $600,788,188 1997
    2 Star Wars Fox $460,998,007 1977^
    3 Shrek 2 DW $441,226,247 2004
    4 E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial Uni. $435,110,554 1982^
    5 Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace Fox $431,088,301 1999
    6 Spider-Man Sony $403,706,375 2002
    7 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest BV $393,369,734 2006
    8 Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith Fox $380,270,577 2005
    9 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King NL $377,027,325 2003
    10 Spider-Man 2 Sony $373,585,825 2004
    11 The Passion of the Christ NM $370,782,930 2004^
    12 Jurassic Park Uni. $357,067,947 1993
    13 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers NL $341,786,758 2002^
    14 Finding Nemo BV $339,714,978 2003
    15 Forrest Gump Par. $329,694,499 1994
    16 The Lion King BV $328,541,776 1994^
    17 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone WB $317,575,550 2001
    18 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring NL $314,776,170 2001^
    19 Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones Fox $310,676,740 2002^
    20 Return of the Jedi Fox $309,306,177 1983^
    21 Independence Day Fox $306,169,268 1996
    22 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl BV $305,413,918 2003
    23 The Sixth Sense BV $293,506,292 1999
    24 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe BV $291,710,957 2005
    25 The Empire Strikes Back Fox $290,475,067 1980^
    26 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire WB $290,013,036 2005
    27 Home Alone Fox $285,761,243 1990
    28 The Matrix Reloaded WB $281,576,461 2003
    29 Meet the Fockers Uni. $279,261,160 2004
    30 Shrek DW $267,665,011 2001
    31 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets WB $261,988,482 2002
    32 The Incredibles BV $261,441,092 2004
    33 How the Grinch Stole Christmas Uni. $260,044,825 2000
    34 Jaws Uni. $260,000,000 1975
    35 Monsters, Inc. BV $255,873,250 2001
    36 Batman WB $251,188,924 1989
    37 Men in Black Sony $250,690,539 1997
    38 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban WB $249,541,069 2004
    39 Toy Story 2 BV $245,852,179 1999
    40 Bruce Almighty Uni. $242,829,261 2003
    41 Raiders of the Lost Ark Par. $242,374,454 1981^
    42 Twister WB $241,721,524 1996
    43 My Big Fat Greek Wedding IFC $241,438,208 2002
    44 Cars BV $238,924,816 2006
    45 Ghostbusters Col. $238,632,124 1984^
    46 Beverly Hills Cop Par. $234,760,478 1984
    47 War of the Worlds Par. $234,280,354 2005
    48 X-Men: The Last Stand Fox $233,992,734 2006
    49 Cast Away Fox $233,632,142 2000
    50 The Exorcist WB $232,671,011 1973^
    51 The Lost World: Jurassic Park Uni. $229,086,679 1997
    52 Signs BV $227,966,634 2002
    53 Rush Hour 2 NL $226,164,286 2001
    54 Mrs. Doubtfire Fox $219,195,243 1993
    55 King Kong Uni. $218,080,025 2005
    56 Ghost Par. $217,631,306 1990
    57 Aladdin BV $217,350,219 1992
    58 The Da Vinci Code Sony $217,250,093 2006
    59 Saving Private Ryan DW $216,540,909 1998
    60 Mission: Impossible II Par. $215,409,889 2000
    61 X2: X-Men United Fox $214,949,694 2003
    62 Austin Powers in Goldmember NL $213,307,889 2002
    63 Back to the Future Uni. $210,609,762 1985
    64 Wedding Crashers NL $209,255,921 2005
    65 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory WB $206,459,076 2005
    66 Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me NL $206,040,086 1999
    67 Batman Begins WB $205,343,774 2005
    68 Terminator 2: Judgment Day TriS $204,843,345 1991
    69 The Mummy Returns Uni. $202,019,785 2001
    70 Armageddon BV $201,578,182 1998
    71 Gone with the Wind MGM $198,676,459 1939^
    72 Pearl Harbor BV $198,542,554 2001
    73 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Par. $197,171,806 1989
    74 Ice Age: The Meltdown Fox $195,258,478 2006
    75 Madagascar DW $193,595,521 2005
    76 Superman Returns WB $192,777,481 2006
    77 Toy Story BV $191,796,233 1995
    78 Men in Black II Sony $190,418,803 2002
    79 Grease Par. $188,389,888 1978^
    80 Gladiator DW $187,705,427 2000
    81 The Day After Tomorrow Fox $186,740,799 2004
    82 Mr. & Mrs. Smith Fox $186,336,279 2005
    83 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Dis. $184,925,486 1937^
    84 Dances with Wolves Orion $184,208,848 1990
    85 Batman Forever WB $184,031,112 1995
    86 The Fugitive WB $183,875,760 1993
    87 Ocean’s Eleven WB $183,417,150 2001
    88 What Women Want Par. $182,811,707 2000
    89 The Perfect Storm WB $182,618,434 2000
    90 Liar Liar Uni. $181,410,615 1997
    91 Jurassic Park III Uni. $181,171,875 2001
    92 Mission: Impossible Par. $180,981,856 1996
    93 Planet of the Apes Fox $180,011,740 2001
    94 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Par. $179,870,271 1984
    95 Hitch Sony $179,495,555 2005
    96 Pretty Woman BV $178,406,268 1990
    97 Tootsie Col. $177,200,000 1982
    98 Top Gun Par. $176,786,701 1986
    99 There’s Something About Mary Fox $176,484,651 1998
    100 Ice Age

  33. Hey Mero,

    You’re making a lot of incorrect assumptions. Yes, once in a while they’ll rework the script. Absolutly… but that’s the exception… not the rule.

    ANd you said:

    “haven’t you heard that screenwriters are ranked last in the totem pole?”

    Ummm… I’m almost afraid to ask this… but where did you hear that from?

    And you said:

    “They aren’t even allowed onto movie stages during filming”

    Ummm… why on earth would the screenwriter be there? Why would he/she even want to be there? Their job is already done… they have other things to do.

  34. campea,

    you assume, and I think everyone else does too, that filmmakers use the script that they have and film it as printed. Filmmakers don’t do that!
    They usually have 100’s of writers working on a movie to get the final script, but then they have more writers working on the script even when in production. and the end product could have 8 writers involved during the history of the film, and NO one would know about it.

  35. haven’t you heard that screenwriters are ranked last in the totem pole? They aren’t even allowed onto movie stages during filming, and usually directors and actors change the writer’s words.

    screenwriting and the filmmaking process is still mysterious for me. I hear all the time about how they rewrite the script even moments before filming a scene, and how actors improvise their dialogues. BUT they film movies out of sequence! so if they film out of sequence, how can they make the movie make sense if they are rewriting all the time? how can they connect all the scenes together in the end?

    we really don’t know what the screenplays are like even when we’ve seen the movies made from them.

  36. Hey Mero,

    Ummm… well… that’s like asking “What if we really don’t need clean air to breath?”

    The writers, and the screenplay are monumentally important. Every word you hear coming out of Jude Laws mouth comes from the writer. Every story comes from the writer.

    Your question (if I’m understanding correctly… which I may not be) is basically suggesting the story in a movie isn’t important. And although for a few rare movies taht may be true… for the vast majority, it isn’t true at all.

    Look at almost any “top 100” films of all time list… and you’ll almost always see magnificent screenplays.

  37. The only way this’ll change is if people started making more interesting films with better stories. A lot of the stuff in the multiplexes is the same old shit but given the choice I’d rather see the same old shit with Tom Cruise than the shit without.

    Blair Witch proved that the public will go for cheapo stuff with no big names as long as it gives them something new and challenges them in some way. The screenwriter situation is fucked up because much of the industry is the same way. It’s not gonna change unless they feel like they can make more money doing it another way. Rubbish, but that’s how it goes.

    I reckon if screenwriters were given the chance they’d hog all the money too. The big actors are just lucky is all.

  38. hey john,

    you never answered my question…

    what if the writers aren’t as important as you think?

    then your whole argument falls flat on the ground.

  39. And here’s the thing…
    You start only paying $5 million for a big “A” list actor… the big “A” list actors will take it… because what else are they going to do?

    The Movie market needs to be re-conditioned in a bad way. And I think the recent stuff with Paramount telling Cruise their about the slash his contract by more than half is a sign that this market reconditioning is coming… thank God.

  40. Hey Adam,

    Here’s the thing. If you suddenly start rewarding good work, then people will put in more efort.

    And guess what… if you don’t turn in good product, there a 10,000 other writers behind you hungry for your spot to get hired to submit a draft.

    You just bag it, then next time the studio wants 8 drafts for a script idea… you won’t be one of the people hired.

    You keep turing in good product, even if it doesn’t get picked, you’ll continually get hired to write.

  41. The screenplay is vital, sure. But will it get them their big-time opening weekend? No. Tom Cruise will.

    Why?

    Let’s skip the “general public as retards” argument because it’s useless and arsehole-ish.

    Tom Cruise became a star for a reason. He doesn’t get £20m a movie or whatever just because he looks nice. He’s made a string of very well-received films. I’m not a massive fan but I like him as an actor and I can honestly say he hasn’t been in a movie I’ve disliked since Far And Away in 1992. Now, I see a movie poster with Tom Cruise on it, I’m gonna see it. He’s shown a lot of good sense in choosing excellent scripts and gives a good performance every time. I could in theory get the idea of the plot for this Tom Cruise film from the trailer but many, many films have better trailers than they deserve. Well, I’ll probably go sometime even if the trailer doesn’t do anything for me. And it won’t be the script that got me in there. It will be this one thought: “Well, Tom Cruise thought it was a good script so it must be worth seeing.”

    And THAT is what gets opening weekends the size of… some really big thing. That’s worth money. A lot of money.

    Screenwriters are essential but they aren’t on the poster. Okay, actors get a lot of credit for what the screenwriter puts on the paper BUT actors also suffer a lot more if the film flops. It’s THEIR image on that screen.

    Little test. Can anybody tell me who wrote the screenplay for Gigli? (Without looking at Imdb?)

    Some smartass will. But the point is that “Bennifer” took a whole lot of shit for that film. I never saw the writer’s name mentioned once in the bajillion (slight overstatement) newspaper tabloids who openly mocked Affleck and Lopez.

    I’ve lost track a little bit now but some of my points are in their, I think. Ta ra.

  42. Hey Dave,

    You’re missing the point. What I said was that the best script then had the option IF THEY WANTED TO, to incorporate other ideas. But it is now up to the ONE writer whose script was picked.

    And to chengauto,

    Ummm… lots of movies have no-name actors. What counts is quality, not fame.

    Besides… $3 million doesn’t exactly get you a “no name”

  43. I don’t think this would work. If I’m a writer and I’m offered $1 million to write a script and I know that there are 9 other writers who are also getting $1 million each to write a script for the same movie why am I going to care if mine gets picked or not. I’ve got $1 million dollars!!! If I can just write good enough to get the studios to keep coming back to me (which apparently doesn’t take much) I could get rich and never actually have one of my adaptations make it to the screen.

  44. “Who wants to see a movie with a bunch of no name actors? Not the majority of the movie going audience.” -Chen.

    Same people who went to see “Blair Witch Project”, “Open Water” and “Napoleon Dynamite”, I suppose.

  45. 6 months the best dialogue writer in the world does his scripts in 4-5 weeks. And dialogue is what a good screenplay contains then the directors work is to make the rest from his vision.

  46. Who wants to see a movie with a bunch of no name actors? Not the majority of the movie going audience. Let’s say the movie does well, then the stock of all these “unknowns” go up and they’ll all start demanding much more money for their services anyway. As far as the pay pyramid goes in hollywood, it seems like its pretty set in stone.

    Execs understand that more money is made by the hype generated by the star cast than the star script.

  47. John,

    If one man is going to piecemeal 9 other scripts for the best ideas that OTHER writers came up with, who gets the ultimate screen credit? What you are talking about is indeed screenwriting by committee if you are going to use elements from all screenplays that are turned in. You will find no bigger champions of good screen writing than those of us at FilmRot, but I gotta tell you I don’t like this idea one bit. Yeah, you might pay me $1 mil to write my script, but then you’re going to take my best idea out of it and give the credit to some other dude?

    Dave

  48. And Darren, your missing the point.

    The objective is not (as I made really clear) to get 10 writers working on the same thing. It’s to get 10 writers (this is just a number, the theory is what’s important) writing on their own, with their own version of the story.

    Once done, the studio can pick the best one and that writer then has the OPTION to read over the other ideas and incorporate any of them that he wants.

    I’m not talking about a committee here.

    Cheers.

  49. First of all, John, thank you for clearing the air on what you said in last night’s AE. Second, the idea you bring up…is still flawed. Big time flawed. I did hear you right. While I will agree that some actors get too much, and a handful are shamelessly pampered to boot, and I will agree that without writers, people are more or less improvising in choas, I want to bring up why your arguement is flawed.

    Joe Eszterhas and Shane Black. That’s just two well known writers who in the past have been paid handsomely for the scripts they turned in….on spec. Producers or studios didn’t commision “Lethal Weapon” to be written. Studios didn’t ask Eszterhas to write anything.
    Alas, I don’t think “name” writers mean much anymore- although with Black, it forced him to become a director (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang- which was brilliant)

    Also, some scripts may be wonderfully written, and may even look good on paper …only to be turned into trash. But, then again, that’s the gambling side of things. But I want to look at last year’s “Cinderella Man” – written by an Oscar winning writer, and turned out to be an outstanding film…which nobody went to see.

    Some well written scripts (and usually the damn great ones) original or adaptive…and we all heard this story…takes 5 to 10 years (or more) to get made because “they got shot down by studios A , B, and C…and thank you studio W who stuck thier necks out on the chopping block…”

    “Taking the best…” That’s subjective. One man’s bar of rust is another man’s gold brick. I think the best bet is to cover all bets. If they “love” the scripts, “love” the writer(s) [don’t forget, there are also writing partners who are successful as well] and…sign them ALL to a “first look” deal after ‘buying’ the script.

    Paul also makes a STRONG point.
    {{kudos to Paul!!}}

    In a word, John? ARBITRATION.

    Get ten scribes working on the same thing, and this nasty little word will come up sooner or later.

  50. Absolutely! I have always been astounded that the folks who write the stories never get their just rewards. Actors are interchangeable but stories often spring from a single person’s imagination and are irreplaceable.

  51. My opinion has always been that the writers aren’t very important in filmmaking, but then again, WHAT do I know about filmmaking? I’ve never been on a movie set, or tried to make a movie.

    All that i’ve heard about Hollywood filmmaking is that WRITERS are the least important people on the totem pole. They usually aren’t invited to the filming, and Actors and directors change what they write on a whim. Scenes and scripts get written and rewritten on a fly to better suite the scene etc, etc. and so many times, the final movie you see could be written by many many many people.

    I watched an AMC documentary about the movie MASH about how Altman changed everything the writer wrote, and the writer was furious about it. but he got sole credit for the script, and when it came time to accept the academy award, he went and accepted it.

  52. If people start wising up, and start understanding the movie world a bit better then we wouldn’t have this problem.

    We all remember how much Little Man earned….if people keep going to movies like this, I can’t see studios wising up themselves. If people are going to shit movies then the studio see no reason to change the system.

  53. hey campea,

    i remember in an old economics class where the professor asked “why does Julia Roberts get 20 million per movie?”. and i’ve forgotten the answer.. something about how the equilibrium point is that high or something. But anyways, under a free market system, the actors’ salaries and writer’s salaries are commanded by it. And since actors are getting paid so much more than the writers, it’s obvious their demand are much greater than the writers are. Anyways john, you should just take a basic college intro class, it’ll tell you why actors get paid so much.

  54. I think a lot of studios feel actors are most important because a lot of people who go to the movies got drilled into their head that just because so and so are in this movie it’s going to be good.

    So many people see actors in a whole different light, they see actors not as people but much more. I’ve often heard people say ”I don’t know what this movie is about or called but Tom Cruise is in it so it must be good”. To me I think the movie goers lack of movie knowledge is one of the problems why shit movies are made. And if people are thinking this, then studios are not going to go all out if people can’t even remember the name of the movie their watching.

  55. Amen, John. Excellent points all around.

    Although I’m not 100% sure about the 10 writers per movie part, sounds an awful lot like Last Action Hero Syndrome. UNLESS.. maybe if you have the ‘hired’ writer choose and incorporate the other ideas, with the director, who will change it anyway for the shooting script.. Overall, writers should be more involved during production, for the most part. IMHO.

  56. This sounds fine in principal but films like Alien 3 had a ton of writers on with multiple takes on the story and we know how that turned out. Also, the writers ego is massive why would they take on other ideas from other writers once they’ve won. It’ll cut into their bit of the pie.

    Read any of William Goldman’s books on how the screenplay is treated in Hollywood, even great writers like him get shafted. He also hates most actors too!

  57. Hey Bjon,

    You just chalk it up to “development costs”. Besides, that screenpley that didn’t get picked may still have elements from it used in the final draft… or ideas from it can be used in the future in another project since the screenplay is owned by the studio.

    Lots of money for R and D gets spent in a lot of industries for things that ultimatly don’t get used.

    Just a thought.

    ~John

  58. yeah, I didn’t get that guys comment. Buuut anyway, I like your thinking, John. That does make a lot of sense. Especially since nowadays we’re seeing all kinds of unknowns playing in great movies with great screenplays. One thing though: I’m not sure peopel would want to give a mil each to 9 guys that were just going to write a screenplay that they weren’t even going to use. “Here’s our 9 million to you we didn’t choose. We’re giving this to you ’cause ya tried.” Yeah, I don’t know abou that.

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