Books and Movies

on March 23, 2015 in Misc

Holy smoke, I may actually be writing a screenplay someone in the movie industry could be interested in.  Why?

Because the three lead roles are for women.  One young, two elderly.


Up until a couple years ago, such a trio would likely have condemned my story to the reject pile.  What’s changed?

The box office.  And for this we can thank in part some best-selling books.

For years, Hollywood has concentrated on churning out flicks–mostly outrageously expensive ones–aimed at young guys.  Not grown, mature men searching for intelligent fare.  Just guys.  “No story? No problem! As long as people got blown up, guys showed up,” as a box office expert says in a New York Times article.

Then along came the Hunger Games books with their young action heroine lead.  They were (and the fourth one will be) box office smashes.  The Twilight books and movies also went through the roof (granted, I have mixed feelings about that story, just like I do with Shades of Gray).

diverg movie

Now it looks like the Divergent books are getting another female-oriented smash movie series started.  Brave broke records while Frozen was a phenom.  The live-action Cinderella will make at least half a billion.  Wild made money and got awards, but wouldn’t have been made if Reese Witherspoon hadn’t bought the book rights and become the driving force behind the filming.  Even The Conjuring, which was never meant as a woman’s flick, had two mature, unglamorous women in the lead.  Then there was the real-life female heroine of Zero Dark Thirty.

Meanwhile, some expensive movies aimed at young guys, like Jupiter Ascending and Seventh Son, have pretty much flopped.

Now, I don’t want to overdo all this female lead stuff.  I avoided Sex and the City like the plague and instead went to see the latest Indiana Jones movie with my guy pal.  Same thing for the J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboots and other such action flicks.

All I’m saying is that I’m so freaking glad that Hollywood is FINALLY noticing that women are a force to be reckoned with.  And that Hollywood is looking more seriously at novels and non-fiction works people like us are writing.

Do you have fantasies that the movie rights (or TV series) for your books would sell?  Is that a dumb question ‘cause we all have that fantasy?

6 Responses to “Books and Movies”

  1. As long as it’s a good story, I’ll take anyone in the lead.
    Underworld was popular with Kate in the lead. And the Resident Evil movies featured Milla.
    And yes, I would very much like to see my books as movies.
    Keep working on that screenplay!

  2. Helena says:

    Alex – Kate and Milla are supercool, but Hollywood still emphasizes the guys. I hope that’s now changing.

  3. Eh, I think maybe you’re looking at the wrong kind of data. The explosive movies per se are done by huge studios exploring their properties for franchise possibility. Hasbro is behind Transformers so the tie-in are the obvious toys (as is the Lego movie). Disney owns Marvel and Star Wars so those “explosion-riddled” franchises have nothing to do with marketing to men or women and everything to do with “We own this property and want to squeeze as much money out of it.”

    Lionsgate is an independent studio, and it’s behind the young adult surge of movies with the girls as leads that you probably have the best shot at success with. So just to be clear, I agree that your story has what it takes to have the success that you desire. However, just to be realistic, recognize that the explosion-riddled stories with little plot and lots of special effects are the intellectual properties of huge companies just mining what they already own.

  4. Helena says:

    Mike – You’re right about the franchises and huge companies mining what they already own, but the fact is there’s been a big emphasis of male roles over female ones. One study found that “distinct speaking characters” in 122 family movies rated G, PG or PG-13 that were released between 2006 and 2009 had only 29.2 percent of roles for females but a whopping 70.8 percent were male. I also mentioned “Wild.” That’s because a couple years ago Reese Witherspoon went to all the studios and asked what movies they had in the pipeline that starred women over 30. The number? Zero. None. That’s why she bought the rights to Wild and set about getting it produced with her in the starring role.

    Anyway, here’s the article in the New York Times that I was referring to. It mentions how studios now think that women may be the more reliable opening-weekend audience when compared to young guys.

    One interesting point I came across in other articles was that a big reason TV shows are getting better, more diversified, and different is because the big six studios are so very white and homogenous (96 percent are headed by men and 100 percent of them are white) they’re driving people with different viewpoints and story ideas to television.

    Anyway, thanks so much for having faith in my fledgling script, especially since I myself don’t have that faith. I just keep writing out of habit.

  5. I think we do share that fantasy — but if trends continue, my main characters would have to be re-cast as women! But I do strive to create female characters who are strong and pass the Bechdel test.

  6. Helena says:

    Milo – Naw, I think your male characters would stay manly. And I’m so out of it I had to look up “Bechdel test.” Per usual, you’re really on top of things.