The Not So Secret Movie Tactic

The Question
Have you ever wondered what happens behind the scenes, behind, the years of planning, behind the money, or behind Hollywood’s velvet curtain? I certainly did. Luckily, I was raised in this fast pace go getter industry.

The Term
There are many things in which I could wax poetically on and waste your time and patience, but here’s a topic that is rarely address outside those people we call “insiders”. Script Ownership Stalling.

The Definition
SOS for short, and it really is an S.O.S for those writers and producers who are attached to the script that just get stuck in a stalling tactic that some bigger producing companies do.

The Tactic
This tactic is very simple to explain: big shot production companies rent/buy the rights to movies and never make them. Now one would think this happens as they are pursuing better scripts and movie opportunities, but the truth is that only a small portion of the time. What tends to be the real reason is to stop or limit competition. They will string writers and small producers along for years, without ever producing a scripts or even using the writers original script for a movie at all.

The Example
In the normal business world we can relate this to the necessity to control rare resources. Taking the oil industry for an example, we can see that is contiunely a race to find new oil and control it. They will sometimes lease the land, even though the oil is hard to get to, as they do not want to lose out on a future prospect and they don’t want a competitor to get it.

The Situation
So in Hollywood a production company will lease the rights to a script/idea/franchise/or book and hold onto it for years without ever doing anything with it. Yes this whole time the party they are leasing it from or bought the rights for a certain time period is making money, however, they are not making the same amount of money that they would make in the case of a movie being produced.

The Real-World
I know this currently happens in the industry and a small producer I know has been in this position. Without getting any party in trouble, here is the basics of their past situation. They held the rights for a movie that was made almost 20 years ago and wanted to see a remake be done. Plenty of big production companies were interested and in the end they settled for a contract where they leased the rights that this small producer held to a production company for a certain amount of years.

The Result
What ended up happening is over many year the production company kept saying they were going to start working on a script, but never did. This certain small producer recently had that contract to lease the rights expire and is now going to shop around for someone who will hopefully actually turn it into a movie. Though they have no guarantee the same thing at a different production company wont happen.


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