Selling Your Screenplay? Who Bought What?


So you’ve written your script. What next? Get it out there of course and hopefully make a sale.The first rule you need to remember is to educate yourself so your efforts meet the market. Having said that don’t try to chase the market, but don’t ignore it either.

Do you know that 50% of movie goers are aged 16 – 24? Yep, for boys that means “Transformers”, for girls that means the “Ugly Truth” with a not so ugly lead male.

Then consider the 24 – 36 year old female audience who go to the movies without men. Think “Sex In The City” and “Mamma Mia”. Where are the men? Apparently we don’t go to the movies enough to warrant statistics.

Did you know that studios rely on about 60 – 70% of their box office from overseas markets?

You may have noticed the dire state of the spec script market lately. A few studios such as Universal and Sony have already used up their development funds for the entire year, or have had them removed to constrain their budgets. Some producers have purchased various projects for six figure amounts from their discretionary funds.

What genres have sold this year (2009) so far?

  • Comedies (31%)
  • Thriller (27%)
  • Action (19%)
  • Drama (11%)
  • Sci-fi/ Fantasy (6%)

How many scripts did key buyers purchase this year (2009) to date?

  • Sony (5)
  • Universal (5)
  • Warner Bros (5)
  • Dreamworks (3)
  • Paramount (3)

Who were the key sellers?

  • CAA (12/ 32 – 38%)
  • ICM (7/28 – 25%)
  • UTA (10/28 – 36%)
  • WMA – (8/17 – 47%)
  • WME – (2/17 – 12%)
  • Benderspink (3/10 – 33%) – Manager

These numbers are depressingly low. This means that Endeavour (prior to merging with William Morris) and Gersh sold less than 10 scripts each for the entire year. The other key agencies didn’t fare much better. However, know that through destruction comes reconstruction, so things will improve in 2010. Why so serious?

Of the 366 overall spec scripts that went out wide, 17 (5%) sold. February, March and May were particularly busy months with 10 scripts sold in each, to non-studio buyers. However, the desert that is the current spec script market has worsened in the second half of the year. Only 2 of the 140 scripts that went out wide sold, one in May and one in June. That’s a measly 1.4%. So, if your script goes out wide today, don’t expect a sale. Expect an introduction to create a buzz for yourself.

You know the drill…

Go forth and write my pretties… but don’t expect a sale in 2009.

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