Every year since I launched the blog in 2008, I do a week-long analysis of the recent year in terms of spec script deals. This week, we look back at 2016.
First, my usual caveat: Tracking spec script deals is not an exact science. To make the blog’s list, there almost always has to be some sort of article in the press verifying a deal, but even then that can get dicey because the term “spec script” is itself rather amorphous in meaning.
In the broadest terms, it applies to any deal made for a script written ‘speculatively,’ that is for no fees, just the writer’s own sweat equity with the hope of making a sale. Seems simple enough, but there is a lot of gray area:
- Some deals get announced that are in effect handshake, no money arrangements.
- Some deals are by professional writers with a preexisting relationship with a production group or studio, so that a tacit agreement was in place for the project from the get-go, even if nothing official until the script comes in.
- Some deals are scripts that have been circulating for many months, even years in the process of being packaged, then finally get announced when the project receives a green light.
- Some deals are option arrangements for as little as $ 5–10K, not what we typically associate with spec script sales (i.e., six figures).
There is no way to determine by any objective standard the precise number of spec script deals in any given year. However since I have been using the same sources of information and standards in tracking deals, it is possible to track trends as well as have at least some idea of what projects got set up in a twelve-month period.
Each day this week, I will provide analysis of the 2016 spec script deals:
Thursday: Agents & Managers
Friday: Top Sales
Saturday: First TimersPaddy Chayefsky
Here is the entire list of 75 spec script deals from 2016 including links to my blog posts covering each acquisition:
1. Title: Bury the Lead Logline: A talented journalist who, in his life-long quest for a Pulitzer Prize, fabricates the truth to create a compelling murder story. When his concocted conspiracy becomes real, right and wrong become entangled as he fights for his safety, career and family before time runs out. Writer: Justin Kremer Genre: Drama Thriller Agency: CAA Management: Madhouse Entertainment Buyer: Elston Films Date: 1/20/16 Notes: 2013 Black List script.
2. Title: Leverage Logline: Set in the summer of 1974, it wraps a murder mystery around the beginnings of modern Wall Street mergers-and-acquisitions hustlers evident in films like The Wolf Of Wall Street. Writer: Oliver Kramer Genre: Drama Management: Oasis Media Group Buyer: FilmNation Date: 2/4/16 Notes: Bought amid competitive situation.
3. Title: Smoke on the Water Logline: Set in the world of offshore boat racing, open water drug smuggling and the U.S. Coast Guard–exploring the “nautical narcotic highway” from Cuba to Key West. Writers: Trey Callaway, Rick Parks Genre: Action Agency: CAA Management: Rain Management Group, Silvera Management Prod Co: Thunder Road Date: 2/5/16.
4. Title: Horizon Line Logline: Follows a couple on a small airplane which loses its way over the Pacific Ocean. Writers: Josh Campbell, Matt Stuecken Genre: Thriller Agency: UTA Management: Madhouse Entertainment Buyer: Svensk Filmindustri Date: 2/10/16
5. Title: Malpractice Logline: In the vein of “Taken” meets “The Fugitive.” Writer: Tyler Marceca Genre: Thriller Agency: WME Management: Anonymous Content Buyer: Endurance Productions Date: 2/10/16 Notes: Option deal. Writer made the 2012 Black List.
6. Title: Burnt Offering Logline: Described as “Prisoners” meets “Silence of the Lambs” Writer: Tyler Marceca Genre: Drama Thriller Agency: WME Management: Anonymous Content Buyer: Armory Films Date: 2/10/16 Notes: Option deal. Writer made the 2012 Black List. This is his 2nd spec script deal of 2016.
7. Title: Miami, PI Logline: A young PI with a checkered past teams up with an ex-model/hot mess to solve the murder of a young girl in Miami. As they navigate the sleazy underbelly of Miami and follow leads pertaining to the murder, they find themselves in way over their heads as they begin to uncover clues linking a high-powered figure to a far-reaching conspiracy. Writer: Michael Diliberti Genre: Detective Drama Agency: WME Buyer: Endurance Media Date: 2/11/16 Notes: Writer made the 2011 Black List. Slated to direct the movie.
8. Title: Battle of New Orleans Logline: One of the greatest untold stories in American history featuring General and future President, Andrew Jackson, who reluctantly partners with world-renowned pirate Jean Lafitte to lead a ragtag team of soldiers against the indomitable British Army in the climactic battle of the War of 1812. Writer: Daniel Kunka Genre: Historical War Drama Agency: ICM Partners Management: Madhouse Entertainment Buyer: Endurance Media Date: 2/11/16 Notes: Writer made the 2014 Black List.
9. Title: Set It Up Logline: Two overworked assistants with nasty bosses try to get their supervisors out of their hair, by setting them up romantically. Writer: Katie Silberman Genre: Romantic Comedy Agency: CAA Buyer: MGM Date: 2/19/16.
10: Title: Samaritan Logline: 20 years after an epic battle left a city’s supervillain dead and its superhero missing, a young boy befriends the old man across the alleyway and as their relationship develops, the boy comes to believe the man is the hero in hiding. The truth, however, proves to be more shocking than the boy could have ever imagined. Writer: Bragi F. Schut Genre: Drama Agency: Verve Management: Realm Buyer: Bold Films Date: 2/18/16.
11. Title: Bravado Logline: The protagonist is a former soldier who believes the world is a good place and worth fighting for, but his optimism is tested in the most dramatic way possible after he returns home from the war and takes a job as a police officer. Writer: BenDavid Grabinski Genre: Action Agency: UTA Management: Kaplan/Perrone Buyer: Paramount Date: 3/3/16. Notes: Ticking clock offer and preemptive deal.
12. Title: Intrusion Logline: A woman moves with her husband to a small town in Maine after a cancer scare and becomes the victim of a strange home invasion. She begins to uncover a darkness underneath her seemingly idyllic new life. Writer: Chris Sparling Genre: Thriller Agency: UTA Management:2016 Spec Script Deal List