March 19

ANOTHER TURN OF THE SCREW

Warner Bros. announced in Daily Variety today the formation of a new company created by John Wells and twelve screenwriters, all of them high-paid veterans. According to Warner Bros., it is to be a writers co-op in which screenwriters have a real say in production of the movie and share in the picture’s profits, a new model for writers and studios. This section of the Variety article caught my eye, in particular:

This company gives writers an unprecedented role in the development and production of their films,” said Schulman. “If this model works, we hope others will emulate it.”

While the current ugly lawsuit between author Clive Cussler and Walden Media shows the danger of granting creative controls to wordsmiths, charter Co-Op members were chosen specifically because they are vets who understand that compromise is part of the process. Many have directed films, and the expectation is that Co-Op scribes will not simply try to outlaw rewrites of their scripts, because chances are those films won’t get made and the writers won’t get paid. If a new draft by another writer is going to mean landing a superstar who will get a picture made, the Co-Op participant will be financially motivated because he will take a piece of the film’s haul.

Is this a new era for writers? What do you think?

[Ed. Note:  Since I posted this, Craig Mazin posted a thoughtful and optimistic analysis at Artful Writer.]




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Posted March 19, 2007 by TW in category "News

4 COMMENTS :

  1. By Mark Martino on

    A screenwriters co-op makes more sense in today’s corporation run movie business than a guild started when giant studios ruled the earth. People complain about large corporations taking over the movie business, but it also means any corporation with money can play. A screenwriters co-op takes better advantage of that.

  2. By TW on

    But isn’t this co-op just a way to move the highest paid writers over to the producer column, thus removing yet more bargaining power from the WGA by taking writers with the loudest voices and paying them off? The article is very clear that this isn’t a co-op for the masses.

  3. By John v. on

    It’s now fair to use the Cussler case as an example. This is an author who wouldn’t let them butcher his book so stipulated in a contract script approval. This is about breach of contract, not creative control.

  4. By MaryAn on

    Are we going to see more “mini-unions” popping up? I really don’t understand a lot of this. Not being an A lister, it will probably never matter to me personally but more with the business of writing in general.

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