Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Anatomy of a High Grossing Screenplay

Writer, producer and master blogger Stephen Follows (Beyond the Brink, Baseline, Parkour Journeys) takes a very good run at answering the question: “Where do the highest-grossing screenplays come from?”

As you probably already suspect, since we’re making note of it here on January Magazine, Follows & concludes that the biggest chunk of screenplays over the last 20 years were adaptations of books. And however big that number is right now? It’s getting even bigger.

Follows looked at the 100 highest grossing films over the last two decades. “This gave me a dataset of 2,000 films with which to answer the question…”

The answers are multifaceted and worth a detailed look. But he summarizes the material thus:

  • 51% of the top 2,000 films of the last 20 years were adaptations
  • The most common source for movie adaptations is literary fiction.
  • 2012 saw five times the number of sequels released compared to 1999
  • Romantic Comedy is the genre with the highest number of original screenplays (79%)
  • Only 16% of Musicals were original screenplays.
  • 18% of Horror films were remakes
  • Between 1994 and 2003, original screenplays outnumbered adaptations every year but one, whereas in the following decade (2004-2013) the opposite was true, with adaptations outnumbering original screenplays in eight of the ten years.

The piece is well worth reading in-depth, and it’s here.



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