I know you guys were just DYING for another molly mish-mash mix of masochistic screenplay mayo. Well let me spoon some out for’ya, Martha. Open wide!!!
For those wondering about the short post today, it’s pretty simple. I’m tapped the F out. I’m a Rhonda Rousey opponent 12 seconds into the fight. I’ve got nothing left. My weekend became the classic, “Do all the work you didn’t get done during the week,” scenario. I had grand ambitions of reviewing the Spectre screenplay but instead double-o-sevened myself into a work coma (yeah, that’s a thing now).
I didn’t get a chance to see any movies over the weekend but I have watched a few digital flicks so maybe I’ll tell you about those. Let’s start with Knock-Knock. They should’ve KNOCKED this one to the 99 cent bin because that’s where it belongs.
Knock-Knock is about a married man home alone for the weekend who lets two lost young women in his house, and then shit gets crazy. As in, they fuck. And then he has to get rid of them before his wife and kids come back. The premise for this one is pretty good. You see the conflict right at the top of the logline.
But whereas I used to get excited about these movies, I’ve become hip to their achilles heel. You have three characters. You have one location. You have a conflict that occurs early. You still need to fill up 60 pages of script real estate. And nobody who writes these movies realizes that until they’ve already started. So they get to that page-30 “oh shit” point, realize they have nothing left to write, and then, basically, bullshit their way to the end, hoping nobody notices.
Oh, I notices!
You could see the writers scrambling for plot scenarios like rats scrambling for a fallen piece of New York pizza. The story doesn’t even take place in one continuous timeline. The girls actually leave the next day and then come back a day later. Is it Knock-Knock? Or is Knock-Knock-Knock-Knock? Make up your mind.
The lesson here is to make sure your idea has legs. If a premise only takes you to page 30 (or even 45) before you realize you don’t have anything left to say, you probably shouldn’t write that movie. And, oh yeah, this is another ringing endorsement for writing an outline. Had they written an outline here, they would’ve known they were fucked past page 45.
Next up we have Dope. And I’m sorry, but this movie sucked. I know it’s gotten good reviews but Dope is the epitome of the Sundance flick. It’s got some retro element that makes it “hip,” and the filmmaking is competent enough that it doesn’t embarrass itself. This, it appears, is all it takes to become a “breakout film” at Sundance.
I know there are a lot of first timers coming through Sundance, but I don’t know why we’re celebrating “just good enough to not be embarrassing” as the bar. Don’t even get me started on the lead actor. Had that guy ever acted before??
Let’s move to this week’s crop of box office films. Here’s the top 10:
1) Goosebumps – 23.5 mil (Jumanthura 3)
2) The Martian – 21.5 mil (I love potatoes)
3) Bridge of Spies – 15 mil (sad that Tom Hanks movies don’t open #1 anymore)
4) Crimson Peak – 12.8 mil (Del Torro overrated?)
5) Hotel Transylvania 2 – 12.2 mil (Adam Sandler needs to stay in the animated space where we don’t have to see his face)
6) Pan – 5.9 mil (studio now optimistic the film will only lose 140 million instead of 150)
7) The Intern – 5.4 mil (anybody else think Robert DeNiro looked confused in this?)
8) Sicario – 4.5 mil (neck and neck with Martian for best script of the top 10)
9) Woodlawn – 4.1 mil (I have no idea what this movie even is, which usually means it’s a Christian movie)
10) Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials – 2.7 mil (but, there’s no maze)
Here’s my take on this weekend’s crop of films. Goosebumps was lucky a real movie wasn’t debuting this weekend. It’s fine for family fare but man did this look safe. I love Jack Black but these days, when a studio wants to play it safe, he’s the actor they hire.
I love that The Martian is still going strong. Such a great movie on every level, from script to direction to acting to effects. This one is going to get some Oscar nominations – no easy task when you’re a sci-fi flick.
I have a very strong opinion about this but movies that have to do directly with the Cold War never do well. And it’s pretty easy to figure out why. Uh, because it’s not a real war! It’s a “cold war.” Which is code for “nobody’s warring.” People nostalgic about the 80s continue to try and make this a thing though, typically with the spy genre, and yet there’s something inherently unexciting about it all, as if nothing anybody does really matters since all the Cold War was was a bunch of people who were too big of wussies to actually get in a real war. Yeah, I said it! I said it! What are you gonna do!!??
And that brings us to Crimson Peak. This failure was the most fascinating for me for a couple of reasons. First, the marketing for this movie was absolutely horrrrrrrrible. Whoever’s decision it was to make billboards that were basically black backgrounds with blue and orange rorschach tests on them easily lost the film 5 million bucks, at least. That was even worse than a Josh Trank tweet. Not good.
But actually, there’s a bigger lesson here, and one that, as screenwriters, we all must hold near and dear every time we come up with an idea. Whenever you write outside of a clear genre, you run the risk of people not “getting it.” When I watched the trailers for Crimson Peak, I wasn’t sure what it was about. If it was a horror film, there wasn’t enough horror! The second an audience isn’t clear on what kind of movie you’re selling them, you’re dead. They’re not showing up. And Crimson Peak showed us on a grand scale just how damning that mistake can be. Universal’s first major misfire of the year!
Okay, time to wait another 10 hours for the new Star Wars trailer. Which reminds me of a joke. What do you get when you cross peanut butter with a Gungan? A peanut butter jar-jar. Heh heh. I actually made that up myself. Like, you can check the internet if you don’t believe me.
p.s. Question for the Scriptshadow faithful. Why do you think Pan failed? There’s something about it that always looked “off” to me, but I’ve never been able to articulate what it was. This was a family film based on one of the most popular and beloved childrens’ characters in history. Why didn’t anyone show up?