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Okay so when I try and explain to writers what Hollywood is looking for, they often look at me sideways, as if to say, “Well that’s dumb,” and then they go off and write what THEY want to write. They then come back eight months later and say, “Why doesn’t anyone want to read my script?” And I say to them, “Maybe it’s because you ignored me when I told you what Hollywood wants and wrote something only you want.”

So I’ve decided to parade out the cold hard facts. I want you to know the EXACT subject matters that dominate the box office right now. So I’ve taken the top 20 films of last year and I’m going to post JUST their subject matter. Not the title or anything else. That way you can see, without anything else clouding your judgment, what Hollywood is selling.

Now because no one here’s expecting Paramount to offer them their next big comic book writing assignment, I’ve followed this with the TOP 20 SPEC SCRIPTS in 2014 and their subject matter. So you can see exactly what subjects Hollywood responds to in spec form.

What I’m about to highlight is NOT the only way to find success in Hollywood. There’s an entire independent route you can take as well, which requires less splashy premises but more legwork on your part (as we always say here – the less “high concept” your script, the more effort you’ll have to put into getting it sold). Still, I think this gives you a good approximation of the KINDS of things you should be writing about if you want Hollywood to take notice.

2014 TOP 20 MOVIES – SUBJECT MATTER

1) War
2) Dystopian future
3) Space aliens
4) Superheroes
5) Toys
6) Fantasy world
7) Robots
8) Witches
9) Superheroes
10) Robots
11) Dystopian future
12) Superheroes
13) Monsters
14) Undercover cops (comedy)
15) Fighting Animals
16) Space travel
17) Dragons
18) Missing woman
19) Dystopian Future
20) Frat houses (comedy)

Okay, now let’s do the same for spec screenplays! Sometimes categorizing specs can be difficult. A director directing his own spec screenplay is a lot different than a writer selling a “naked” spec to a studio. So I’m going to stay away from writer-director projects in this analysis (i.e. No “Interstellar”). Also, it’s kind of hard to gauge the subject matter of a spec without knowing the genre, so I’ll include that too.

2014 TOP 20 SPECS TURNED FILMS – GENRE AND SUBJECT MATTER

1) Comedy – Frat houses
2) Comedy – Cops/Crime
3) Sci-fi – Superhuman powers
4) Thriller – One man takes on gang
5) Thriller – Danger on an airplane
6) Comedy – Pretend cops
7) Fantasy – Dracula
8) Thriller – Stalker
9) Action – Dangerous weather
10) Drama – Returning home (coming-of-age)
11) Romantic Comedy – Vacation in Africa
12) Comedy – Old man takes care of kid (coming-of-age)
13) Romantic Comedy – sex
14) Thriller – Dangerous news coverage
15) Thriller – Terrorism
16) Comedy – Sports (football draft)
17) Comedy – 20s males trying to get laid
18) Sci-fi – The Singularity (artificial intelligence)
19) Horror – dangerous pregnancy
20) Romantic Comedy – Man must raise granddaughter (coming-of-age)

When I finished compiling this list, I noticed two things. First, the subject matter for the top films of the year were extremely predictable. Which is good, in a way. We know exactly what the masses want (aliens, robots, monsters, the future) so we should be able to give it to them. But what I was really surprised about was the variety I found in the subject matter of the spec screenplays. It was way more varied. It seems to me that if you’re okay with not trying to write a 300 million dollar blockbuster, you have a lot of options. What did you guys find?

Oh, and for those of you who were wondering what the actual movies were for each list, here they are, reprinted, film and subject matter…

2014 TOP 20 BOX OFFICE WITH SUBJECT MATTER

1) American Sniper – War
2) The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1 – Dystopian Future
3) Guardians of the Galaxy – Space aliens
4) Captain America: Winter Soldier – Superheroes
5) The Lego Movie – Toys
6) The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Fantasy characters
7) Transformers: Age of Extinction – Robots
8) Maleficent – Witches
9) X-Men: Days of Future Past – Superheroes
10) Big Hero 6 – Robots
11) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Dystopian future
12) The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – Superheroes
13) Godzilla – Monsters
14) 22 Jump Street – Undercover cops (comedy)
15) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Fighting Animals
16) Interstellar – Space travel
17) How to Train Your Dragon 2 – Dragons
18) Gone Girl – Missing woman
19) Divergent – Dystopian Future
20) Neighbors – frat houses (comedy)

2014 TOP 20 BOX OFFICE SPECS WITH GENRE AND SUBJECT MATTER

1) Neighbors – Comedy – Frat houses
2) Ride Along – Comedy – Cops/Crime
3) Lucy – Sci-fi – Superhuman powers
4) The Equalizer – Thriller – One man takes on gang
5) Non-Stop – Thriller – Airplane danger
6) Let’s Be Cops – Comedy – Pretend cops
7) Dracula Untold – Fantasy – Dracula
8) No Good Deed – Thriller – Stalker
9) Into the Storm – Action – Dangerous weather
10) The Judge – Drama – Returning home
11) Blended – Romantic Comedy – Vacation in Africa
12) St. Vincent – Dramedy – Old man takes care of young kid
13) Sex Tape – Comedy – sex
14) Nightcrawler – Thriller – dangerous news coverage
15) 3 Days to Kill – Thriller – Terrorism
16) Draft Day – Dramedy – a sports draft
17) That Awkward Moment – Comedy – Trying to get laid
18) Transcendence – Sci-fi – the singularity (artificial intelligence)
19) Devil’s Due – Horror – dangerous pregnancy
20) And So It goes – Romantic Comedy – Man must raise granddaughter (coming of age)

And finally, a friendly reminder to sign up for The Scriptshadow 250 Screenwriting Contest. The deadline is now at 3 months and 7 days! And the contest is FREE!

  • klmn

    A very useful article. Thanks, C.

  • Mike.H

    Great article done with patience & research. Thank you!

  • Eddie Panta

    In a way, the film BIRDMAN, appeases all the criteria mentioned above, but also delivers something unexpected, it’s very crafty in the way it uses what the studio system wants, but delivers something more subversive. Not that I think it was completely successful in this, but it did work to a great extent.

    I think it’s not only about giving “Hollywood” what it thinks the audience desires, but rather packaging the story you want to tell so that it appears to be in line with the criteria, while in reality, it’s still the story you want to tell. I mean, the Coen Brothers have been doing this for years.

    I think it’s naive to think that we’re not always writing about movies, that movie themselves aren’t baked into the subject matter of any story we envision on screen.

    Also, isn’t NIGHTCRAWLER a writer director project?

    • S.C.

      Yes, but is BIRDMAN a good spec to go out with… you know, if you’re not directing it?

      For every BIRDMAN success (critical, didn’t really trouble the box office) there are loads of weird failures.

      Also, try submitting a BIRDMAN to Scriptshadow 250, see how well it does!

  • Poe_Serling

    Don’t forget horror… often low-budget fare with a high profit margin if it strikes the right chord with its primary audience.

    Top 5 Horror hits from 2014:

    5) Devil’s Due… Budget: 7 million Box-office: 36 million
    4) Oculus… Budget: 5 million Box-office: 44 million
    3) Devil Us From Evil… Budget: 30 million Box-office: 88 million
    2) Ouija… Budget: 5 million Box-office: 100 million
    1) Annabelle… Budget:6.5 million Box-office: 250 million

    I’m a horror guy and the only one that I would give a slight recommend from this bunch is the mirror movie – Oculus.

    • S.C.

      Annabelle aside, not spectacular returns. I mean, if horror is your thing, I would do that, of course, but I’d aim higher than these movies did. I think you need to get non-horror fans to watch.

      I wouldn’t worry about the low-budget. I’d just focus on a great story and characters.

      • Eric

        The returns are actually wonderful (sans Deliver Us From Evil). Looked at from a Budget vs. Box Office perspective, the horror movies Poe posted made a better average return on their investment then the Top 2014 movies. Annabelle and Ouija made 38 and 20 times their budget respectively. Even Transformers, which made a billion dollars box office, made less than 5x its budget back.

        If I had 11.5 million dollars to go back in time and invest in a movie, it would be a much better choice to give it to Annabelle and Ouija than to take my share of a Transformers or American Sniper investment.

        Add to that, most critics AND audiences hated those horror movies with the exception of Oculus. Which means these movies made top return mainly on audiences who wish they’d stayed home. Once again, if I had money to invest in a movie, I know which genre I’d feel most comfortable with. Even their failures look more like successes…

        Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones
        Budget: $5 million
        Box Office: $90.9 million
        = 18x its budget. It opened second to…

        Frozen
        Budget: $150 million
        Box Office : $1.274 billion
        = 8.5x its budget.

        I imagine any gambling man would prefer the 18 to 1 payout.

        • pmlove

          Great point, but you`re missing a piece of the puzzle – that you need to make the same 18:1 shot 13 times (in the same time period) to get the same net result ($1.1bn) as you do with Frozen.

          It`s just as easy to say the gambling man would prefer to have $1.124bn rather than $85m.

          It all depends on who`s making the picture and what fixed costs they have to consider as to whether it`s a good investment of time.

          • Eric

            Of course. Branding means a lot too and isn’t easily captured in the numbers. Transformers isn’t exactly a risky investment these days. On the other hand, Frozen wasn’t nearly a sure thing when it came out and Paranormal Activity has cemented a pretty good track record. So I guess the question is, how much do you like to gamble?

          • Ninjaneer

            Many production companies have much smaller budgets than $150million so if you’re only goin to spend 5-20 million then horror is good option.

            Plus, as with anything you don’t want to put all you eggs in one basket, even with good odds, because odds only pan out over larger number of attempts.

            Smaller/medium companies are prolly better served by making lots of movies with good potential revenue/cost ratios than one bigger one. It’s easier to hit your expected return. More predictable.

          • pmlove

            Don`t get me wrong, I 100% agree with Eric.

            I was just trying to offer the flip side that it isn`t necessarily worthwhile for the big companies to bother, despite the high % return, because the absolute numbers are still small.

          • Eric

            And that’s why the big companies love their comic book IP movies. It isn’t because they’re greedy bastards who want to make money (some are), it’s because they’re insecure bastards who are paranoid about losing it. They’re playing the high stakes game and they need some assurances.

    • carsonreeves1

      Those are worldwide grosses, right?

      I didn’t see Devil’s Due but it had a good spec sale story, with that being the writer’s first sale. So I was going to check it out. What was the Poe summary on that one?

      • Poe_Serling

        Worldwide grosses.

        Devil’s Due: “After a mysterious, lost night on their honeymoon, a newlywed couple finds themselves dealing with an earlier-than-planned pregnancy. While recording everything for posterity, the husband begins to notice odd
        behavior in his wife that they initially write off to nerves, but, as the months pass, it becomes evident that the dark changes to her body and mind have a much more sinister origin.”

        • carsonreeves1

          I meant what were your personal feelings about it? Where did it go wrong?

          • Poe_Serling

            Just a weak retread of “Rosemary’s Baby” with the found-footage angle slapped on.

          • carsonreeves1

            That’s too bad. :(

          • Craig Mack

            Found Footage angle killed this thing.

      • klmn

        It all spends the same.

    • Ninjaneer

      Horror has a great Revenue/Cost ratio potential but there are not many horror spec sales each year. Check out the analaysis breakdown from GITS:

      http://gointothestory.blcklst.com/2015/02/2014-spec-script-deals-analysis-genres.html

      BUT, there are so many terrible horror movies that get made that if you came up with a crazy good, original, commercial concept for one I’d guess it’d get snatched up.

      It’s also interesting to check out the spec sales from first time writers:

      http://gointothestory.blcklst.com/2015/02/spec-script-deals-analysis-2014-first-timers.html

      • S.C.

        I wouldn’t want to put people off writing horror if that’s what they’re passionate about, but the number of people who write horror compared to the number of horror specs that do well is out of proportion.

        I think some people may right horror specs thinking a) the standards are lower and/or b) they’ve got a better chance of selling something low-budget.

        I don’t think either idea is strictly true.

        • Ninjaneer

          One thing that probably throws off the horror spec sales is that there are a lot of horror script/movies sold/made to non WGA prodcos so they don’t get captured in those lists.

          I know someone who has sold two of his horror spec scripts (both of which were made) but they weren’t counted in hollywood spec sales.

          Obviously it’s better to get an official WGA compliant sale but you still have written by credits on IMDB.

          • Eric

            Horror truly does have a lower bar of entry than most other genres, and it means both good and bad things.

            The good… the subcultures of horror are a lot more varied than any other genre. Someone who has an interesting horror concept has a better chance of getting it made than someone with an interesting action or sci-fi concept. And they’re going to have a bigger potential audience than someone with an interesting drama concept.

            The bad? That low bar of entry mean it’s likely going to be a bunch of inexperienced film makers attempting your concept. The upside of getting the script made comes with a downside… your made movie is much more likely to be unwatchable crap than if you’d found success in another genre.

            But some of us like that trade off.

        • Randy Williams

          Saw “Unfriended”” last night. That must have been super low-budget to make. The whole movie you’re watching someone’s computer desktop while they navigate through Skype with friends, Facebook and other assorted web sites. Talk about contained!
          Had no idea it would be that way but was pleasantly surprised I was engrossed the whole time.

          Only thing I hated was there were no opening credits.

          I LOVE opening credits.

          • Ninjaneer

            Are you joking about loving opening credits??

            I HATE opening credits. They seem antithetical to everything cinema should be. I want to be engrossed in the move, not sucked out of it.

          • Randy Williams

            The, music, fonts, how they choose to drop us down in their world. Always looking forward to them.

          • Eric

            According to wikipedia, it’s already made 17x it’s one million dollar budget. I thought this looked really stupid, but I’ve been hearing decent things about it. However, I refuse to watch it on anything other than my laptop. Seems like the rare occasion when that might actually enhance the experience.

          • Randy Williams

            Tagged along with someone else, or I wouldn’t have gone to see it.
            Still, I think it’s a learning experience to watch movies where the writers are really challenged. Here, you have about five or six characters, you’re limited to what they can say, do and write in front of a computer screen and you have to keep escalating the suspense and scares with those limitations.

          • Eric

            It’s definitely a challenge. I imagine the mystery of “who posted the original video” kept the plot flowing. I suppose there’s enough uniqueness to the premise to get a good movie out of it, but I suspect any attempt to franchise this will lead to a steep drop in quality.

        • tyrabanksy

          Horror is my favorite genre, but 80% of the movies are exactly the same
          *scrapes the skin inside my eeeeeeyeliiiiiiiiids*

    • BellBlaq

      Slightly OT (since we’re talking about commercial successes): Has anyone seen Honeymoon? I want to want to watch it, but not if my only motivation is a slight interest in actress Rose Leslie. Any recommendations?

      • Poe_Serling

        I’ve heard some great things about Honeymoon… even a knowing nod to Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

        “Any recommendations?”

        From the dusty corner in the classic section, I highly recommend:

        >>The Innocents (1961) – an elegant, sophisticated, and beautifully shot ghost story.
        >>The Haunting (1963) – the granddaddy of haunted house films.

        From the soon-to-be-in-your-nearby Redbox, I recommend checking out:

        >>Both It Follows and The Babadook. Each has its good share of creepy moments.

        Coming soon to your local theaters. Just a few I’m interested in seeing:

        >>Poltergeist remake
        >>Insidious 3 and Sinister 2
        >>Crimson Peak (Stephen King and his son both gave it rave reviews from their sneak peek of the pic)

        • BellBlaq

          Thanks!

      • witwoud

        Honeymoon was not bad, but not half as good as it might have been. It starts off well — a pair of newlyweds are spending their honeymoon in the lake house belonging to the bride’s parents; one night she sleepwalks into the woods, and when she comes back, she’s acting a bit different. That’s Act One. So far so good. But the rest of the film doesn’t really go anywhere. She gets weirder. Her husband gets more bewildered. (Typical line of dialogue: “I don’t understand what’s going on!”) Nasty slimy creatures start appearing from all sorts of places. And there’s a shock ending.

        Thing is, it’s neither scary enough, nor interesting enough in other ways, to grab your attention. I ended up a bit bored.

        • BellBlaq

          I always thought the concept sounded a little too Evil Dead. Seems that’s more or less confirmed.

      • Caivu

        I would pretty much echo what witwoud said below (above? whatever); it was a bit disappointing, but not terrible. I liked how understated the horror is, even though it’s not scary at all IMO. Worth a watch I guess, but don’t go in with high expectations.

      • Marija ZombiGirl

        HONEYMOON is a great low budget movie, I loved it :) Depends how you like your horror: graphic or atmospheric? It falls into the second category which is my personal favorite. It’s a slow-burn but well worth the watch. It starts out as just another possession flick – groan – but stay with it and it drags you in without realizing it. I won’t spoil anything but they made great creative choices that worked beautifully, making this one of the vey good surprises of the year for me.

    • Linkthis83

      As you already know, I agree with the OCULUS “slight recommend.” I thought it did some things really well.

      I recently watched THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT on Netflix. I thought it was a seriously interesting topic and as a film, done really well (even if using the handheld camera/documentary style). They shot on location at a lot of actual haunted houses using actual haunted house workers. An interview with the filmmakers reveals there really is a subculture of off the grid haunted houses. That’s kind of terrifying.

      • Poe_Serling

        “…THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT on Netflix.”

        Yeah, I was really close to checking out that film last weekend. Instead of it, I finally got to watch The Babadook.

        Maybe I’ll give THOB (hey, there’s a horror title for you – possibly a third cousin to the BLOB) a spin this weekend.

        Thanks for the heads-up, Link!

        • Ninjaneer

          THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT

          Sounds like it should have a character named Trajent Future.

    • tyrabanksy

      Ouija did 100 million? How the fuck did that happen?

      • Poe_Serling

        It must have been the strange and mysterious powers of the Ouija Board at work. ;-)

  • wlubake

    What stood out to me was that there is only 1 script overlapping the two lists, and it is #20 on the top movies list. I think you are killing yourself if you are writing a spec with a projected budget over $20 million.

    • S.C.

      Safe House?

      • wlubake

        Always an exception or two. We are playing a numbers game here, though, aren’t we? White House Down was also over a $20 million budget. My guess: execs are more afraid of the next White House Down than they are hopeful for the next Safe House.

        • S.C.

          It is a numbers game and there are always exceptions… I think telling people not to write car chases and spaceships is bad advice. Look at the specs that sell; they would cost a fortune to film. Most won’t be produced, but as Carson points out, they’re great samples.

          CLIFFHANGER was written as a sample script – Michael France was amazed when he sold it!

          • Bacon Statham

            ”CLIFFHANGER was written as a sample script – Michael France was amazed when he sold it!”
            Really? Cause as a concept it’s a damn good one. Die Hard on a mountain. It’s not hard to see why it sold. If I had to pick between two Die Hard type scripts – Cliffhanger and Speed – I’d go with the former every time.
            Don’t get me wrong, out of both those films, Speed is my favourite, but as a concept, I prefer Cliffhanger. It just seems more exciting and dangerous.

          • S.C.

            Yeah, to clarify, France didn’t think it would sell because he was a nobody, but he thought he could get work from it, which is often what happens with specs. And he did get work – FANTASTIC FOUR, GOLDENEYE, etc.

            But your right, it was a terrific script and so much of it was right there in the first draft.

            R.I.P. Michael France

    • carsonreeves1

      This is true to an extent. But if you write something really big and everyone loves it, it could land you the assignment that has you writing one of those Top 20 films.

      Also, a lot of these higher-budget specs get bought but not made. So you have to factor that in as well.

  • Nicholas J

    Here’s another way to look at it…

    2014 TOP 20 BOX OFFICE WITH SOURCE MATERIAL
    1) True story
    2) Book/sequel
    3) Comic book
    4) Comic book/sequel
    5) Brand
    6) Book/sequel
    7) Brand/sequel
    8) Remake
    9) Comic book/sequel
    10) Comic book
    11) Remake/sequel
    12) Comic book/remake/sequel
    13) Remake
    14) Sequel
    15) Remake
    16) HOLY SHIT SOMETHING ORIGINAL!
    17) Sequel
    18) Book
    19) Book
    20) HOLY SHIT SOMETHING ORIGINAL!

    …I like the spec list a lot better.

    • S.C.

      True, true.

      I think it’s better to think about spec sale as getting an opportunity to write these blockbusters.

    • wlubake

      Why don’t we count Interstellar as a spec script? Obviously Nolan can make The Usual Suspects 2 (Easter egg for the longtime readers there) and WB will greenlight it, but it is a writer pushing an original idea through the system, rather than an assignment.

    • carsonreeves1

      I didn’t want to make that list cause I thought it would be too depressing. :)

      • Nicholas J

        Well I made the list in my head anyway and got depressed so I figured if I’m going down I’m taking everybody with me.

      • Mr. Blonde

        You really can’t give people the honest truth if you’re not giving them the honest truth. You know what I mean?

        And, is it just me or did the vast majority of the specs-turned-films not turn into good movies?

    • Eric

      This exact thing ran through my head. Thanks for having the patience to type it out.

    • MWire

      So you’re telling me there’s a chance…

    • NajlaAnn

      Good to know that the “HOLY SHIT SOMETHING ORIGINAL!” actually exists in Hollywood! Lol!

  • S.C.

    Possible subjects for successful future specs:

    American Football
    Beach movies
    The Cold War
    Cyberstalking
    Disaster movies
    The Mayflower
    Psychedelia
    Romantic comedy thriller (like FOUL PLAY)
    Russian foreign policy decisions
    Screwball comedy

    Any others?

    • Kirk Diggler

      I’m surprised that no one has made a truly good ‘futbol’ movie considering how popular the sport is worldwide. It might not do well in America but the foreign box office can often triple that of the American domestic B.O. American football has limited appeal outside of the U.S.

      • Felip Serra

        I think the answer is that there is NO WAY to replicate the sheer tension, madness, and unpredictable nature of watching a futbol match.

      • S.C.

        They made a remake of THE LONGEST YARD with football. It didn’t really work:

        The action of football is too continuous; there’s not time to slow down and discuss what happened, no motivational speeches or jokes:

        • Kirk Diggler

          It’s because their approach is wrong. It’s not about the action on the pitch, it’s about how the action on the pitch affects the characters.

          When I say, no one has made a good ‘futbol’ movie, I’m talking about football as the back drop not as the main story.

          • S.C.

            Still hugely popular in England. Good? I don’t know. I liked it!

      • Eric

        Set in a dystopian future, former star athletes must save the human race by defeating their alien robot overlords in a game of ‘futbol’.

        • Kirk Diggler

          I’d see it!

          • Eric

            You can write it too if you want :) Everything I know about football wouldn’t be enough to inflate one. Feels like a comedy concept though, or at the very least tongue-in-cheek.

  • ripleyy

    Interesting to see science fiction is so low in the Spec part, but so high (and appears in many occasions, this case, three) on the other section (which is dytopian future, which is technically science-fiction).

    That’s sort-of good news to me who likes to write in those genres, but if you’re a funny person, you could milk the spec section to death.

    I would like a sequel article in December to see what has changed from last year to this year. That would be pretty interesting to see.

    • carsonreeves1

      I noticed that too about sci-fi. Kind of surprised me. Edge of Tomorrow was *kind of* a spec (it was based off of obscure material and was written on spec) but since it was technically an adaptation, I didn’t include it. That’s another sci-fi film for you though.

      • ripleyy

        It took me by surprise as well because I always thought science-fiction would be the ONE genre that would be more successful. The “go-to” genre, if you will. It seems that isn’t as true and it’s comedy and war that seems to be the better choice.

        The biggest surprise to me from your investigation is that “War” dominated everything else. You would think War, as a subject, would be depressing and the evidence says otherwise. I don’t think it’s possible to make a funny war movie, but if you can figure it out, you’re golden.

        • carsonreeves1

          Steven Spielberg’s only bomb! 1942! (I still haven’t seen that movie, btw).

          But yeah, a war comedy can definitely be done. Hollywood likes irony. Life is Beautiful is a great example.

          • ripleyy

            It’s not a very good movie, but the fun in this is that you have to figure out a way to make it work. It depends on what type of comedy you’re using and what angle of the war you’re using. A hilarious Seth Rogen-produced take on Saving Private Ryan would be in bad taste, for example.

          • Felip Serra

            I think “Life is Beautiful” was an excellent feat of marketing but I think it ended up being a sort of cautionary tale too. You’ll recall, at the time, there was vocal group in Hollywood (Spielberg among them) who thought the film an insult to the Holocaust. And since we haven’t seen a wide release of a Benigni film in the 17 years since I’m going to say they won that argument.

          • Howie428

            Anyone who has seen Benigni’s live action version of Pinocchio can probably provide a better explanation for this.

          • Michael

            Ha… You crack me up, it’s 1941.

            Hollywood makes a lot of funny war films. Comedies about war have always done well at the box office. Here are some in no particular order:

            Mash
            Catch-22
            Kelly’s Heroes
            Buck Privates (Abbott and Costello)
            You’re In The Army Now (1941-Not Pauli Shore)
            Hot Shot: Part Deux
            1941
            It’s A Beautiful Life
            Three Kings
            Good Morning Vietnam
            Stalag 17
            Dr. Strangelove
            The Great Dictator
            Tropic Thunder
            In The Loop
            Stripes
            Wag The Dog
            Charlie Wilson’s War
            Private Benjamin

          • cjob3

            There’s some great stuff about 1941 in the John Belushi biography “Wired.” Spielberg had a line about being at the test screening. He said it was a good sign when an audience covered their eyes in terror (Jaws) or covered their mouths in awe (Close Encounters…) but when he saw the audience covered their EARS, he knew they were doomed.

            It is a long, loud, obnoxious piece of work, but a fascinating train wreck. Spielberg flew to Hawaii to avoid the premiere. This teaser is funnier than the whole movie.

          • Poe_Serling

            For a brief moment John Wayne even flirted with the idea of doing a cameo in the film. From a Spielberg interview:

            “He was really curious and so I sent him the script. He called me the
            next day and said he felt it was a very un-American movie, and I
            shouldn’t waste my time making it.

            He said, ‘You know, that was an important war, and you’re making
            fun of a war that cost thousands of lives at Pearl Harbor. Don’t joke
            about World War II.”

          • Frankie Hollywood

            “Hollywoooooood” :(

  • E.E.

    I’m a huge action/comedy fan so the past few years have been kind. Still waiting on a The Other Guys 2!

    Writing an original action/comedy is something else. You have to be aware of the tropes and try not try play them completely straight (unless necessary).

  • S_P_1

    Today’s article [xx] worth the read.

    2014 TOP 20 BOX OFFICE SPECS WITH GENRE AND SUBJECT MATTER

    2) Ride Along – Comedy – Cops/Crime
    19) Devil’s Due – Horror – dangerous pregnancy

    I suspected Ride Along would do fairly well but not 9 figures. I hadn’t heard of Devil’s Due until today’s article. But it still managed to make 7 times over its budget – world wide gross. Both of these movies had the benefit of releasing in January. January is no longer a dumping ground for movies. I’ve personally have seen more movies during the winter months than any other time of the year.

    Piggybacking off of Poe’s link and tying into today’s article.

    http://www.ssninsider.com/ask-the-analyst-are-screenwriting-contests-worth-it-do-themes-affect-saleability/

    Because my interest level falls well within today’s top 20 subject matter, I feel my specs have an above average chance of competing for industry eyeballs. At the same time I’m not chasing current trends. This list just happened to coincide with my interests.

    Okay so when I try and explain to writers what Hollywood is looking for, they often look at me sideways, as if to say, “Well that’s dumb,” and then they go off and write what THEY want to write.

    This would be me as well. Except I would go forward knowing the path is more difficult versus “Why doesn’t anyone want to read my script?”
    If you chase trends by the time you get to market either it will be saturated, plateaued, or in decline. Basically the only future-proofing a writer can employ is creating entertaining stories.

  • Kirk Diggler

    Here’s the question that all amateur scribes should ask themselves that Carson forgot to include.

    “Would the Chinese want to watch a film made from your spec script?”

    If the answer is no, move on to your next idea until the answer is ‘yes’.

    • S.C.

      Given that there’s a good chance they could just ban your film to make another one a success, I don’t people are necessarily making films for China. Maybe making sure they don’t annoy China, but I honestly don’t think the China thing needs any more thought than whether someone in Netherlands is going to like it. Just make it good.

      • Kirk Diggler

        My point was, the reason our own box office hits are so derivative and generic is that studios seem to want fare that plays well internationally more than ever, and China is a huge part of that.

        A good example would be Interstellar. Made $188,020,017 in the U.S. on an estimated production budget of $165 million.

        Interstellar made $121,990,000 in China. That’s 25% of the total foreign B.O.

        Let’s see how much Interstellar made in your example of The Netherlands.

        The Netherlands – $4,396,203

        That wouldn’t cover the craft service budget.

        • S.C.

          Well when I saw the poster for PACIFIC RIM I thought, the only reason they’re doing that is for the Japanese. And this was kind of before the whole let’s go after China thing. And BATTLESHIP, that was another when where I felt they ruined it by trying to appeal to the Japanese audience.

          I don’t see the Chinese thing being the same. I can see a script having Chinese villains removed or Chinese heroes added (especially for big-budget stuff), but with the Chinese able to just pull films from cinemas when they feel like it, I don’t see Hollywood breaking a sweat to service the Chinese market.

          So for example, most expensive movie this year – I think – is SPECTRE at $300 million.

          No Chinese locations. No major Chinese characters.

          If the Chinese want to watch a slam-bang action film they can buy a ticket just like the rest of us. And if they want to buy it then, sod them, we’ll all just watch it instead.

          I don’t see making a huge difference.

          • S_P_1

            Unless you’re referring to the high tech aspect of BATTLESHIP I’m not sure they directly marketed to East Asian markets. The board game tie-in never crossed my mind while I was watching it. It’s one of those popcorn flix that did moderate numbers while being critically panned.

          • S.C.

            BATTLESHIP featured Americans AND Japanese fighting against the aliens. Also, the story was supposed to just be about aliens attacking Hawaii, but had to be changed to aliens invading all over the world, so the ending (where one more alien spaceship turns up) makes less sense.

            Oh, and the world premiere of BATTLESHIP was in Japan!

            (My point about Japan is it’s a large market – like China – but it’s a free market economy they don’t pull movies from theatres while they’re still making money:

            http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/12/business/media/django-unchained-pulled-from-chinas-theaters.html?_r=0)

          • Kirk Diggler

            You’ve completely misconstrued my point, to no surprise at all.

            This isn’t about direct marketing to a specific group of people (or even giving a shit what the Chinese think). The only question is: will the Chinese go see the film so we can recoup our investment?

            Your tangent about Spectre having no Chinese locations or characters is a complete non sequitur and is irrelevant to the point I was making.

            And you are completely wrong about Pacific Rim and Battleship being deliberate marketing attempts to lure Japanese movie goers. That’s CLEARLY NOT where the MONEY is.

            Pacific Rim –

            U.S.A. gross – $101,802,906

            China gross – $111,940,000

            Japan gross – $14,503,917

            Battleship – U.S.A. gross $65,422,625

            China gross – $48,328,711 (20% of foreign total)

            Japan gross – $18,128,606

            So the point that seems to go flying over your head, Scott, is that China is the market than has more potential than even the U.S. market. If you’ve written a spec that sounds like Birdman 2, well you’ve made a mistake. Birdman didn’t even play there.

            “I don’t see Hollywood breaking a sweat to service the Chinese market.”

            They don’t have to break a sweat or even lift a finger. They just ask themselves, will it play in China? Which is akin to the old saying, ‘Will it play in Peoria?’

            Warner Bros spent $190m making Pacific Rim and if it wasn’t for the China box office gross the film would have totally tanked. Now if China doesn’t exist, do they still make the film? Hard to say.

          • S.C.

            Wow, what did I do to deserve all that?

          • S.C.
        • S.C.
          • Kirk Diggler

            And your point is what exactly? Is there one or do you just like posting links?

          • S.C.

            No Mockingjay. Django pulled, cut, shown in less screens. Despicable Me 2 – not shown. The Croods pulled from cinemas while it’s still making money.

            Probably more examples, but those are the ones I could find.

            You dismiss my comments and insult me, so I’m just trying to reestablish my points: in China they can withdraw a movie from cinemas – or not show it at all – simply because they don’t want competition for their own films. In short, not a free-markey economy.

            Therefore I couldn’t care less if the Chinese don’t want to see a movie made from my script.

            Hollywood can kowtow all they want to them – China doesn’t care.

          • Kirk Diggler

            Christ, you really have a martyr complex.

          • Ninjaneer

            China doesn’t care about martyr complexes

          • S.C.

            No, but I am right on this one. China can pull any movie they want for any reason they want. They’re unpredictable.

          • Kirk Diggler

            Maybe so, not sure how it negates the fact that there is still a shit ton of money to be made there. You’re talking politics, I’m talking money.

          • S.C.

            Without a free market economy it’s difficult to know which way to go.

            So if you’re talking about Furious 7 or Fantastic Four, these are films with global appeal. And – yes – if you’re going to spend north of $100 million, you better have global appeal. And that includes appealing to China.

            But I don’t think the Chinese market would OVERLY influence me. DJANGO UNCHAINED made $425 million without doing well in China

            (Copyright piracy is another problem in China.).

            On a more general subject, I’m not sure a spec script has to be SUPER commercial. It’s unlikely (possible, unlikley) a spec script is going to be given a $100 million plus budget (a few exceptions).

            A movie has to make something like twice its negative cost and p&a budget to break even, so less than $300 million. Possible, even without China.

          • davejc

            It’s called distribution rights, and every distributor on earth can exercise that right any time they see fit. American studios do it all the time: Infernal Affairs, Ringu, etc.

          • S.C.

            That’s true, in a small way, but you don’t pull The Croods from theatres when it’s making you money! That’s the Chinese government trying to protect its own animated product.

            So you could produce a Chinese friendly film, it’s a big hit in China, then it gets pulled before it can make all its money because another Chinese film is coming out and they want people to see that one instead!

            Could you imagine the US government pulling Furious 7 from cinemas so people would go and see Avengers 2?!

          • davejc

            Yeah I can imagine it because it really sucked that I couldn’t see Infernal Affairs until after The Departed was released.

        • Marija ZombiGirl

          I get what you’re saying but it doesn’t make sense comparing China with its population of 1,369,440,000 to the Netherlands, pop. 16,800,000… :) I’d say INTERSTELLAR did pretty well there.

          • Kirk D

            No doubt. Doing ‘well’ is a relative term.

    • Nicholas J

      Brilliant.

    • Kirk Diggler

      FURIOUS 7

      has made
      $245,900,000

      in China so far.

      The 2nd highest foreign total (for Furious 7) is $48,00,000 in the U.K.

      The highest grossing film in China’s history is

      Transformers: Age of Extinction….

      $320,000,000

  • Felip Serra

    I’m seeing this article as an extension of an age old wrestling match:

    EGO VS. CRAFT

    Ego is me: My experiences, my prejudices, affiliations, aesthetics and so on. Ego is me scoffing at crap like “Transformers” while lauding “The Grand Budapest Hotel”. Ego is me saying “I’ve seen hundreds of movies. I can write. Therefore: This will be a cinch because I’m learned and brilliant and great with words.” Ego is me thinking that 7 figure check is already in the mail because I’m learned and brilliant and great with words…

    Craft is a mountain: It is the cumulative labor of hundreds of screenwriters before me (99% of them anonymous, under paid, and under appreciated). Craft is dedicated to story. And craft is privy to a secret: Audiences want a return on their investment too! They also have seen hundreds of movies and, consciously or unconsciously, they know what works and what doesn’t. Craft is meeting those expectations while to create new ones.

    So. Though my Ego may very well want to write an eight hour epic about a land sale in 18th century Portugal… The part of me that responds to Craft must beat it back with some objectivity: Is there an audience for this? Does this respond to market demands? I don’t see this as a compromise. I see it (and its taken me years to realize this) as my voice finding the best possible language for people to hear it.

    Just a few thoughts. Thanks for the use of the soapbox.

  • Zadora

    The Top Box Office reminded me of why I haven’t been to the movies in two years…

    • Midnight Luck

      there are other movies out there you know.
      and they are gasping their last breath, dying for your patronage.

      speaking of which, i just saw Woman in Gold yesterday and thought it was great.
      also saw Ex Machina, and even though i was extremely interested in it, i am sad to report it was a complete letdown.

      • Zadora

        Of course I know there are other movies out there. :)

        I’m just saying, that list reminds me exactly of why I don’t feel like driving to a theater and spending 30 bucks to see superheros, frat boys and stuff like that. I watch plenty on Netflix, iTunes and Amazon. I probably read more books though. Which is probably why my scripts tend to be smaller in scope than the giant studio films Carson keeps talking about.

        • Midnight Luck

          Sounds like we are of a similar mind.
          And Yes, of course i was kidding about you knowing their are other movies out there.
          I just personally can’t imagine not having gone to the theater in two years. I believe I literally would shrivel up and die.
          While I think the small box is doing some good stuff, I truly love the big box experience. Going to a theater, and seeing something on that huge screen in surround sound is amazing.
          And I am not talking about Superheros, or fratboys or anything. I am talking seeing WILD on the big screen or even BIRDMAN.
          The experience of going to the movies is something wholly its own thing. I have a hard time giving that up. Many movies just beg to be seen on the big screen.
          Of the top 17 movies of last year (via BoxOfficeMojo.com) I only saw 2 of them on the big screen and was seriously disappointed, and honestly kind of sickened by them. But of the bottom 17 I saw 12 of them and am so happy to have gone and seen them on the big screen.
          Things like NIGHTCRAWLER, and THEORY OF EVERYTHING.
          While I get that not many people go to the theater to see anything anymore, it just saddens me when they choose to get out of their Barco-lounger to go, they decide to see CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER WHATEVER instead of something interesting and actually great.

          • Zadora

            I used to go see at least two movies/week, but now I’m just not that interested. I write a lot though. Mostly thrillers and horrors. Guy movies. Low budget. That’s all I manage to sell.

  • mulesandmud

    The takeaway here, as in most conversations about the industry, is simple:

    Know the game you’re in.

    It’s baffling how many aspiring screenwriters show up to this gun fight holding a rubber knife, and it’s not until they’re bleeding out on the sidewalk that they start to ask “What am I doing wrong here?”

    Don’t be that guy.

    And while we’re tossing around reality checks, I saw this article recently, which was originally an answer on Quora:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/quora/2015/04/20/writing_for_movies_and_tv_why_do_so_many_people_want_to_be_screenwriters.html

    Does a good job of describing the arduous path to becoming a pro scribe, emphasizing all of the points where people stall or bail out, and reminding us which parts are or are not under our control.

    • Ninjaneer

      Yeah, but my rubber knife is sharp….. it appears I’ve just stabbed with a trident. Whoever did that will prolly want to lay low for a while.

    • S.C.

      A spec screenplay must be:

      1) Good
      2) Appealing

      Majority of scripts aren’t good OR appealing.

      Some scripts are appealing, but when you read them, they aren’t good.

      Some scripts aren’t appealing but they are well-written, and all you can say to these writers is I look forward to reading your next script.

      Scripts that have general appeal (maybe not mass appeal, but more it appeals to more people than it repels) and are just great scripts, they’re rare but they’re desirable.

      Want to know what’s appealing? Look at what gets picked for Amateur Friday.

      Serial killers
      Aliens
      Drug smugglers
      Cults
      Nuclear weapons
      Kidnap
      The Wild West
      The Mexican Border
      Ancient China
      Cults
      Demonic possession
      Graffiti artists
      Abraham Lincoln

      Some of these scripts will have been chosen for their quality, but most – I would argue – were picked because they were scripts that people would like to see made as movies.

    • davejc

      “Yup, writing sucks. Everyone is a writer and everyone is a critic. You’re the bottom of the food chain, because ‘anyone can write’ – they’re just words, how hard can it be!

      The pay is lousy, if there is pay, and unless you’re very lucky, you don’t get any respect until you’re dead.

      You spend your life inside your own head. Most of your ideas have either been done before or are just awful. Your day is filled with doubt, self-loathing and anger. You probably hate yourself, and most of humanity.

      No-one understands you. ‘Boo hoo’ they say, when you’re blocked while trying to write the next great novel, ‘they’re only words, how hard can it be’.

      It takes years to hone your craft, years of ritual self abuse, mental flagellation and misery.

      By this time if you’re not an alcoholic, then your heart just isn’t in it. Go paint or something.

      Is writing a romantic career? No. Writing isn’t living in a house by the lake six months a year, writing is suffering in a rat-infested one-bedroom apartment.

      If you can afford the lake house, you’re not a writer, you’re a lawyer with a misguided hobby.

      Writing is a miserable profession, full of miserable people who all hate each other because of professional jealousy.

      Writing is tearing your soul out every day and putting it on paper for others to consume, and judge.

      Writing is hard. It’s painful. Is it really worth it?

      Abso-god-damn-lutely it’s worth it. It’s the greatest job in the world.”

      -Dan Goodswen

      • Midnight Luck

        Again I concur.

        Also well put.

        Great great stuff. Thanks.

        Now I just need to learn to drink more.
        Or become a Lawyer and get a misguided hobby.

        I got the miserable part down pat though.
        So no need to worry.

    • Midnight Luck

      I concur.

      Whoever wrote that article should be a writer.
      Well said and so concise.

      Great stuff.

    • bluedenham

      Depressing as it is, that article should be required reading for any aspiring screenwriters.

  • Magga

    This article should be titled “obituary for cinema”

    • carsonreeves1

      lol – someone should make this same list for the top films in 1975, 85, 95. Could be funny.

      • S.C.

        2005:

        Wizard (fantasy)
        Intergalactic war (sci-fi)
        Fantasy world (fantasy)
        Alien invasion (sci-fi)
        Giant monster (action)
        Talking animals (family)
        Married assassins (action comedy)
        Chocolate (family)
        Superhero (action)
        Date doctor (romantic comedy)

        1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire $895,921,036
        2. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith $848,754,768
        3. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe $745,011,272
        4. War of the Worlds $591,745,540
        5. King Kong $550,517,357
        6. Madagascar $532,680,671
        7. Mr. & Mrs. Smith $478,207,520
        8. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory $474,968,763
        9. Batman Begins $372,710,015
        10. Hitch $368,100,420

        • S.C.

          1995:

          Terrorism in New York (action)
          Talking toys (family)
          Apollo 13 (drama)
          Spies (action)
          Native Americans (family)
          Superhero (action)
          Serial killer (thriller)
          Ghosts (family)
          Dystopian future (sci-fi)
          Magical board game (family)

          1. Die Hard with a Vengeance $366,101,766
          2. Toy Story Walt $361,958,736
          3. Apollo 13 $353,471,312
          4. GoldenEye $352,194,034
          5. Pocahontas $346,079,773
          6. Batman Forever $336,529,144
          7. Seven $327,311,859
          8. Casper $287,928,194
          9. Waterworld $264,218,220
          10. Jumanji $262,797,249

          • S.C.

            1985:

            Time travel (family)
            Vietnam POWs (action)
            Boxing (drama)
            African-American women in southern United States in the 1930s (drama)
            Woman in Africa (drama)
            Old people and aliens (sci-fi)
            Desert adventure (action/comedy)
            The Amish (thriller)
            Treasure hunters (family)
            Spies (comedy)

            1. Back to the Future $210,609,762
            2. Rambo: First Blood Part II $150,415,432
            3. Rocky IV $127,873,716
            4. The Color Purple $94,175,854
            5. Out Of Africa $87,071,205
            6. Cocoon 20th $85,313,124
            7. The Jewel of the Nile $75,973,200
            8. Witness $68,706,993
            9. The Goonies $61,389,680
            10. Spies Like Us $60,088,980

          • S.C.

            1975:

            Shark (horror)
            B-movie horror (musical)
            Mental patients (drama)
            Bank robbery (drama)
            Hair stylist (drama)
            Bumbling detective (comedy)
            Famous comedienne (musical)
            California gold rush (family)
            Young runaways (drama)
            Ski racing (biopic)

            1. Jaws $260,000,000
            2. The Rocky Horror Picture Show $112,892,319
            3. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest $108,981,275
            4. Dog Day Afternoon $50,000,000
            5. Shampoo $49,407,734
            6. The Return of the Pink Panther $41,833,347
            7. Funny Lady $39,000,000
            8. The Apple Dumpling Gang $36,853,000
            9. Aloha, Bobby and Rose $35,000,000
            10. The Other Side of the Mountain $34,673,100

          • S_P_1

            2 outta 10 clearly I wasn’t doing my part to support the movie industry.

          • S.C.

            1965:

            Singing nuns (musical)
            Russian revolution (romance)
            Spies (action)
            Early days of flight (comedy)
            A cat (family)
            Early days of motor racing (comedy)
            Wild West (comedy western)
            Hedonistic playboy (comedy)
            American Civil War (western)
            Train (war)

            1. The Sound of Music $163,214,286
            2. Doctor Zhivago $111,721,910
            3. Thunderball $63,595,658
            4. Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines $31,111,111
            5. That Darn Cat! $28,068,222
            6. The Great Race $25,333,333
            7. Cat Ballou $20,666,667
            8. What’s New Pussycat? $18,820,000
            9. Shenandoah $17,268,889
            10. Von Ryan’s Express $17,111,111

          • S.C.

            1955:

            Travelogue
            Navy in WWII (comedy drama)
            USMC (war)
            Cowboys (musical)
            Gangsters (musical)
            Dogs (family)
            Medical students (drama)
            Nuclear bombers (drama)
            Audie Murphy (war/biopic)
            Navy in WWII (war)
            Marital infidelity (comedy)
            Two brothers and a woman (western)
            Teachers (drama)
            Life of the preacher Peter Marshall (biopic)

            1. Cinerama Holiday $10,000,000
            2. Mister Roberts $8,500,000
            3. Battle Cry $8,000,000
            4. Oklahoma! $7,100,000
            5. Guys and Dolls $6,900,000
            6. Lady and the Tramp $6,500,000
            7. Not as a Stranger $6,200,000
            8= Strategic Air Command $6,000,000
            8= To Hell and Back $6,000,000
            8= The Sea Chase $6,000,000
            8=The Seven Year Itch $6,000,000
            8= The Tall Men $6,000,000
            9. Blackboard Jungle $5,200,000
            10. A Man Called Peter $4,700,000

          • S.C.

            1945:

            Priest and nun save a school (drama)
            Psychiatry (thriller)
            Murder (film noir)
            Murder (drama)
            Sailors (musical)
            A hotel (comedy drama)
            Texas gambler and a Creole daughter of an aristocratic family (romance)
            Swimming instructor (musical)
            Pittsburgh in the late 19th century (romance)
            Identical twins (comedy)

            1. The Bells of St. Mary’s $8,500,000
            2. Spellbound $7,775,000
            3. Leave Her to Heaven $6,505,000
            4. Mildred Pierce $5,638,000
            5. Anchors Aweigh $4,779,000
            6. Week-End at the Waldorf $4,366,000
            7. Saratoga Trunk $4,250,000
            8. Thrill of a Romance
            9. The Valley of Decision $4,103,000
            10. Wonder Man

          • S.C.

            1935:

            The Bounty (historical drama)
            Lower-class girl insinuates herself into upper-class family (historical drama)
            Tap dancing (screwball musical comedy)
            American Civil War (family)
            Irish War of Independence (drama)
            Tramp steamer (adventure)
            San Francisco during the Gold Rush era (historical drama)
            19th century Russian society (romance)
            Adoption of a young orphan (family)

            1. Mutiny on the Bounty $4,500,000 (rentals)
            2. Becky Sharp
            3. Top Hat $1,782,000
            4. The Littlest Rebel
            5. The Informer $950,000
            6. China Seas
            7. Barbary Coast
            8. Captain Blood
            9. Anna Karenina
            10. Curly Top

          • S.C.

            1925:

            US Army’s Rainbow Division in WWI (war/romance)
            Romans/Jesus Christ (historical epic)
            The fast-set of Brown University (romance)
            College freshman (comedy)
            Jewish boxer (drama)
            Gold rush (comedy)
            Marriage and death (romance)
            Mother and daughter (drama)
            Dinosaurs (sci-fi)
            Lady Isabel disguises herself to be a governess (historical drama)

            1. The Big Parade
            2. Ben-Hur
            3. The Plastic Age
            4. The Freshman
            5. His People
            6. The Gold Rush
            7. The Merry Widow
            8. Stella Dallas
            9. The Lost World
            10. East Lynne

          • S.C.

            1915:

            The KKK! (historical drama)
            Parody of Carmen (short comedy)
            Carmen (drama)
            Con trick (drama)
            Small-town banker (short comedy)
            Giant monster (horror)
            Hero accused of plotting to murder the Italian king (drama)
            Man sitting on a bench (short comedy)
            Man takes a white powder and hallucinates! (short)
            Femme fatale (drama)

            1. The Birth of a Nation $10,000,000
            2. Burlesque on Carmen
            3. Carmen
            4. The Cheat $137,364
            5. David Harum
            6. Der Golem
            7. The Eternal Citiy
            8. Fatty’s Tintype Tangle
            9. La Folie du Docteur Tube
            10. A Fool There Was

          • klmn

            Are those corrected for inflation? There’s been a helluva lot of inflation since 1965.

          • S.C.

            No, and these are just American B.O. figures.

            http://www.westegg.com/inflation/

          • Poe_Serling
          • klmn

            Thank you, Master Poe.

          • Midnight Luck

            What is up with all the CATs?

            Guess it was a “thing” in 1965.

            That Darn Cat! at #5? really?
            then Cat Ballou at #7 and What’s New Pussycat? at #8.

            Wow, that’s a lot of cats for one year. (though I know only one of these was probably ACTUALLY about a cat)

          • Kirk Diggler

            It’s important to note that most of Rocky Horror’ gross came years after the initial release… in midnight showings.

          • S.C.

            That’s probably true, and it’s true for some films further down like Dr. Zhivago where it’s was re-released several times.

            Would it surprise you to learn that I just copied a lot of this from Wikipedia really quickly?

          • Magga

            That’s three stone-cold masterpieces in the top four, one sequel in the top 10

          • S.C.

            It wasn’t until the 1990s that you kind of see the disappearance of masterpieces from the list. Some fun movies, movies I really like. But not quite masterpieces. Art and commerce used to be good friends.

          • Magga

            Even if you look at 95, Toy Story was as revolutionary as Breathless was in it’s day, Apollo 13 was great, Seven really is a modern classic, and… well, that’s about it for that year. Still, I’d take the 90’s over the 80’s any day. Which is why I think there’s a chance movies can get better again. It was hard to imagine something worse than the eighties. Now we don’t have to, but a better generation of moviegoers will come along

          • S_P_1

            5 outta 10. By watching The Color Purple and Rambo: First Blood Part II I proved I could watch 2 contradictory movies while keeping a straight face. Clearly Stallone was cheated out of Best Actor Oscar Award.

          • S_P_1

            6 outta 10. My standards were higher back then.

          • Casper Chris

            Oh, look mom, there I am at number 8! I’m a hit!

        • S_P_1

          I saw 7 outta 10. Better go watch Boyhood, Chef, and Skeleton Twins so I can be referred to as a respectable cinephilia.

      • Magga

        2025:
        1. Duck Hunt 4
        2. Duck Hunt 3
        3. The Avengers (third reboot)
        4. Ritz Crackers – The Movie
        5. Breaking Bad 8
        6. The Thirteenth Sense
        7. 12 fast 12 Furious
        8. Cinderella vs Batman
        9. Indiana Jones Jr and The Search for Superman, part 4
        10. Captain America – Duck Hunter

        • S.C.

          This is as far as I can find!

          http://www.movieinsider.com/movies/-/2020/

          Apr 3, 2020 – Cyborg
          Jun 19, 2020 – Green Lantern Reboot
          Nov 20, 2020 – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

          • Magga

            OMG. Well, we can hope they all flop. The twenties, man, that’s when we’ll turn this around. Hopefully…

  • S_P_1

    ON TOPIC

    All Netflix subscribers.

    SHOWRUNNERS: The Art of Running a TV Show

    Highly informative and entertaining.

    SIDE TOPIC

    • Scott Strybos

      I was excited when I saw this on Netflix (they didn’t even email me a notice).

  • andyjaxfl

    IP, IP, IP! Another Jack and the Beanstalk movie (though this one coming from Vince Gilligan) is now in development because people are crying for a proper version to be made…

    • GoIrish

      As long as it’s not little girls or small people crying for it…

    • Caivu

      Jack and the Ricin Beanstalk?

  • Scott Strybos

    J.K. SIMMONS has signed on for a new television show that sounds fun.

    Described as an espionage thriller with a metaphysical twist, Counterpart tells the story of Howard Silk (Simmons), a lowly cog in a bureaucratic UN agency who is turning the last corner of a life filled with regret, when he discovers the agency he works for is guarding a secret: a crossing to a parallel dimension. Through Howard and his “Counterpart” on the other side, Prime, the show will navigate themes of identity, idealism, what ifs, and lost love.

  • Eric

    I decided to make/find a third list. For this list, profitable was defined based upon return on investment and comes from here…

    http://whatculture.com/film/10-most-profitable-movies-of-2014.php

    1. Annabelle Haunted dolls

    2. God is not Dead Religious/faith-based philosophy

    3. The Fault in Our Stars YA/Cancer/Romance

    4. Oujia Haunted board game

    5. Neighbors frat house comedy* the only movie on all three lists

    6. The Purge: Anarchy dystopian future

    7. Lucy Superpowers

    8. The Maze Runner YA/maze running?

    9. Heaven is for Real Religious/afterlife experience

    10. The Lego Movie Toys

  • carsonreeves1

    Well, it’s not THAT depressing. Every single movie on that list has source material. So at one point or another, it was original, something that a writer created. Who’s to say we can’t create new source material for future generations?

    I am kind of fascinated by the superhero craze though. Is that an official genre that will now be with us forever or will the bubble burst? I think we’ll find out once we hit 25 superhero movies a year.

  • Johnny Hamburgers

    OT: Does anyone have the screenplay for Masterminds (2015)? I don’t have anything to trade so I’m relying on the goodness of your hearts. [I promise to mention you in my Razzies speech as thanks for your kindness.]

    johnnyhamburgers (at) hotmail (dot) com

  • ff

    Screw what Hollywood wants.

  • Malibo Jackk

    You need to break it down further:
    What you need:
    Explosions
    Fights
    Cars dropped from planes

    What you don’t need:
    Plot
    Character
    GSU

  • carsonreeves1

    I love how America makes Avengers 2, and then rewards its citizens but letting them see it last. :(

  • spencerD

    Great to see this, makes me understand where the projects I have stand. I have a project that I know fits in to the categories very well. Even if it is written a two part project – none the less people are going to crave this!