The Easiest Film Genres To Sell

Knowing what to right is often a struggle for many writers who are unaware they must match the marketplace. According to Steve Kaire there are some genres that sell better than others.

Below is a list of genres that are divided into three tiers.  The easiest genres to sell are in Tier 1.  More difficult genres are included in Tier 2.  And the most difficult genres are in Tier 3.  Writers can improve the chances of selling their scripts if they choose Tier 1 genres.  Examples of recent films are given in each genre.  Some films  fall into more than one genre category.


1.   ACTION – Action films are the easiest to sell because they are popular in foreign markets since they are not dialogue driven.  They also perform well in the 14-24 male demographic which dominate ticket sales. Examples:  “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” “Terminator Salvation,”  “Fast and the Furious,” “G.I. Joe,” “Quantum of Solace,” “Transformers,” “Live Free and Die Hard.”

2.   ADVENTURE – “Land of the Lost,” “Up,” “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” “Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” “National Treasure: Book of Secrets.” Pirates Of The Caribbean 4 is pipping the $1 billion global box office mark because they are often family (4 quadrant films).

3.   THRILLER: Also known as suspense films.  “Angels and Demons,” “Whiteout,” “Taking Of Pelham 1, 2, 3,” “Michael Clayton,” “88 Minutes,” “Disturbia”, “Hereafter:  Thrillers have accounted for around 40% of spec script sales in 2011, whereas action and adventure scripts accounted for around 30%.

4.   COMEDY & ROMANTIC COMEDY – “The Proposal,” “The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past,” “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” “He’s Just Not in To You”, “Yes Man,” “What Happens in Vegas,” “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”, “Bridesmaids”.

5.   CRIME – “RocknRolla,” “In Bruges,” “The Bank Job,” “Ocean’s Thirteen,” “The Lookout,” “Flashpoint,” “American Gangster.”


6.   HORROR – “The Happening,” “Quarantine,” “Saw V,” “The Collector,” “Last House on the Left.” Currently there is a glut of these projects so sales are softening. However, horror is a ubiquitous, cyclic genre which will always have a box office presence. Low budget contained horrors are especially attractive to buyers.

7.   FANTASY – “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” “Twilight,” “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor,” “Hellboy II: The Golden Army,” “The Golden Compass.”

8.   SCIENCE FICTION – “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” “The Incredible Hulk,” “Iron Man,” “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer,” “I am Legend,”  “Spider-Man 3”, “X-Men”. These have great franchise potential.


9.   DRAMA – “21,” “Milk,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “Atonement,” “There Will Be Blood,” “Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Sunshine Cleaning”, “The King’s Speech”.

10.   MUSICALS – “ Fame,” “Mama Mia!,” “High School Musical 3: Senior Year,” “Cadillac Records.”

11.   WESTERNS – “3:10 to Yuma,” “Appaloosa,” “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”, ‘True Grit”.

12.   PERIOD – “Sense and Sensibility,” “Across the Universe,” “ Becoming Jane,”  “The Patriot,” “Jane Eyre.” Period dramas are still the most difficult projects to pitch and sell in the U.S., mainly because their success relies on their execution rather than concept. Furthermore, they tend to lie in the mid budget range.

These are broad guidelines, and like any trend based industry, some lower tier projects sell well. A western and a few dramas were sold in 2011, defying prevailing wisdom. However, emerging writers should bear this information in mind to boost their chances of a sale in a crowded marketplace where studios are producing fewer films each year.


5 Comments Add yours

  1. David Phelan says:

    You screwed up on a movie title. The movie title you screwed up is Fantasy Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. The Title is actually Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. The part you screwed up is the first word it’s Fantastic not Fantasy. Just an fyi other than that I really like the article. It’s really helpful because I’m thinking about becoming a writer.

    1. Damn that predictive text/auto correct.

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