How A Film Script Sale Is Made


Each screenplay sale must be carefully nurtured to maximize chances of a sale. Good for screenwriter. Good for agent. The main strategies range from offering the script to a hand-picked selection of producers before it hits the market place, to offering the script to every key player in town.

GOING WIDE

This is used to sell big budget, tent pole movies being offered to the major studios and financiers in town. Depending on who you ask, there are 70 or 80 serious buyer in L.A. The aim of this strategy is to create industry buzz and hopefully a bidding war. Typically, scripts are offered by agents and managers on a Friday night, with bids being made by the following Monday.

An interested buyer makes a bid and other buyers are granted the opportunity to make a counter offer. Sellers exploit this strategy to create a bidding war and obtain the best sale price for their literary property.

GOING NARROW

This is often the strategy of choice for smaller independent films or mid-range budget films. Potential buyers are carefully chosen and discretely offered a script. Sellers wait for an offer and counter offer, but bidding wars are rarely seen.

SLIP

This occurs when a seller discretely (or not) offers a script to a list of preferred buyers first. After all, few producers want to be low on the offer list.

Most producers want to feel an element of exclusivity on a hot literary property so they don’t want the script to be widely shown. They want to discover the next hit to develop it into production.

However, if each script is offered to a producer after the previous producer has responded, writers would be drawing a pension before a final greenlight is made.

Once a tentative deal is struck, there are numerous other creative and business factors to consider. These are mainly the choice of writer, director, producer, talent, final cut approval, budget etc. Many a sale deal has collapsed because these final details cannot be agreed upon.

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