A couple of posts below I discussed the deal that a dozen A-list writers made at Fox in which they’ll each write a spec for the studio and, in return, receive a low up-front payday but good money as well as creative controls if the film gets made.
One of the writers, John August, has more on his blog. Here’s an excerpt in which he explains the rationale for the deal:
So. Will it work? Will it change anything?
I don’t know. I think it’s best to classify it as an experiment. We’re each committing to one script, so if it simply doesn’t work out, no one is particularly worse off. And it’s hard to say whether the basic idea could (or should) be expanded to include the other kinds of movies screenwriters are hired to write: adaptations, sequel, remakes, and everything else that relies on underlying property. Without the ability to take the project back, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for a writer to reduce his upfront money. Even among this group, most scripts don’t become movies. The gamble might not make sense.
What I will say is that as an A-list screenwriter, it’s become increasingly difficult to set up an original project at the studios, who (understandably) want to save their development budgets for the movies they’re pretty sure they’re going to make — largely sequels, adaptations and remakes. I’m very excited to write an original for Fox, a movie not based on anything other than what I think would be great idea. So while this deal is largely about rights and money, I think it has the potential to lead to some better, more original movies. If so, that’s a win for everyone.