The Scoggins Report: March 2013 Spec Market Roundup

The Scoggins Report
by Jason Scoggins & Cindy Kaplan
April 2, 2013

March 2013
Spec Market Roundup

We stayed up late last night messing around with the numbers for the first quarter of 2013, and we’re now even more convinced than we were last month:  Something totally bizarre is going on in the spec script market.  Consider the following:

•     There has been way less new material on the market this year than usual — 40% less, to be precise (just 56 scripts over three months, vs 93 by this point last year and 89 in 2011)…

•     …yet the percentage of material sold has been very high, almost exactly the same as last year (41%, vs 42% at this point last year and 35% in 2011).

•     Also, of the 23 specs that have sold so far this year, wayfewer were bought by major studios than usual — 39% fewer, to be precise (7 scripts in the past three months, vs 18 by this point last year and 14 in 2011)…

•     …and three major studio buyers still haven’t bought anyspecs yet this year (Columbia, Fox and Warner Bros.)…

•     …yet the studios have collectively bought just as many pitches this year as last (17 out of the 22 pitch sales so far in 2013, vs 18 out 23 in 2012).

That middle item is pretty shocking — we haven’t seen a total studio purchase number that low since 2010, which you may remember was an absolutely awful year for specs.  If all we knew were the raw sales numbers, we’d have a pit in our collective stomach about the state of the market…

…but when we factor in the first and last bullet points (comparing year-over-year total scripts taken to market and pitch sales numbers, respectively), we feel quite a bit better.  Here’s our take:  The buyers are still buying, but the sellers are throttling supply.

A month ago we chalked this up as the effect of Resolution’s and Paradigm’s hiring sprees, and we still think that’s true.  Here’s the thing, though:  Waiting a beat or two makes sense, but at some point there’s going to be a flood of new material on the market and some good stuff is going to get lost in the shuffle.  If we were repped writers with market-ready specs, we’d be starting to get impatient right about now.

Year-Over-Year Breakdown

Mar 2013 Mar 2012 Mar 2011 Mar 2010 Mar 2009
New Specs 22 36 34 49 78
Specs Sold1 10 14 15 8 10
Percent Sold2 32% 33% 44% 16% 13%
Genres Sold 2 Action1 Comedy1 Horror2 Sci-Fi4 Thriller 4 Action3 Comedy1 Horror1 Sci-Fi5 Thriller 1 Action5 Comedy3 Sci-Fi6 Thriller1 Western 2 Comedy1 Drama3 Thriller 1 Action4 Comedy1 Drama1 Sci-Fi1 Thriller

1 Total sales in March  2 Sales percentage of scripts that came out and sold in March

 

Weekly Activity Breakdown

Week of March 4:

•     6 specs hits the market, none of which have sold yet

•     2 spec sales were announced:

•     Agatha (3/5)

•     Murder City (3/6 – originally went out in June 2012)

 

Week of March 11:

•     8 specs hit the tracking boards, 2 of which have sold so far:

•     All The Good Ones Get Away (3/15)

•     Ink And Bone (3/27)

•     4 additional spec sales were announced:

•     Orbit (3/13 – originally went out in January)

•     Pay The Ghost (3/13)

•     One Night on the Hudson (3/14 – originally went out in June 2011)

•     Incinerator (3/15/)

 

Week of March 18:

•     3 specs hit the tracking boards, none of which have sold yet

•     1 spec sale was announced:

•     Caught In The Act (3/18)

 

Week of March 25 (Passover/Good Friday):

•     No new specs hit the tracking boards

•     1 spec sale was announced:

•     Eden (3/25)

 

Genre Breakdown 

 Genre Total Sold % Sold
Action/Adventure 8 2 25%
Comedy 2 0+1 0%
Drama 0 0 0%
Horror 2 1 50%
Sci-Fi 4 1+1 25%
Thriller 6 3+1 50%

The +1‘s in the above grid indicate the scripts that sold in those genres that originally went out prior to March 2013.

 

Spec Sales (alphabetical by title)

AGATHA

Writer:  Allison Schroeder (“Mean Girls 2”)

Reps:  UTA (Marissa Devins, Dan Erlij) and Benderspink

Buyer:  Paramount

Genre:  Action adventure

Attachments:  Will Gluck (“Friends With Benefits”) will direct. Disruption Entertainment’s Mary Parent and Cale Boyter will produce with Benderspink’s Chris Bender, JC Spink and Jake Weiner.

Notes:  Agatha Christie never accounted for what happened during her disappearance, but several theories are mentioned on her Wikipediapage.

Logline:  Per Deadline, plot details are on the DL but the project “surmises what really happened to Agatha Christie during the 11 days she went missing” in December 1926 following a quarrel with her husband.

 

ALL THE GOOD ONES GET AWAY

Writer:  Elliot San

Reps:  WME (Mike Esola) and Energy Entertainment (Brooklyn Weaver)

Buyer:  1984 Private Defense Contractors

Genre:  Contained erotic thriller

Attachments:  1984?s Adi Shankar and Spencer Silna will produce with Weaver and Steve Stabler.  San and Nick Kriess will co-produce.

Notes:  Deal includes a progress-to-production component that requires the project to go into production in 2013.

Logline:  Under wraps, but said to be “A Perfect Murder” meets “Hard Candy.”

 

CAUGHT IN THE ACT

Writer:  Steve Klayman

Rep:  Anthem Entertainment (Cynthia Campos-Greenberg)

Buyer:  Atmosphere Entertainment

Genre:  Action comedy

Attachments:  Atmosphere’s Mark Canton and David Hopwood will produce.

Logline:  When an actor is confused with the thief he plays on a crime re-enactment show, his mistaken identity thrusts him into the spotlight of law enforcement and the underworld as he attempts to clear his name.

 

EDEN

Writer:  Olatunde Osunsanmi (“The Fourth Kind”)

Reps:  CAA (Billy Hawkins) and Caliber Media (Dallas Sonnier)

Buyer:  Gold Circle

Genre:  Sci-fi action thriller

Attachments:  Osunsanmi is set to direct as well.

Notes:  Script was accompanied by a ripomatic.

Log:  A modern, sci-fi take on the Underground Railroad, with aliens as the oppressors instead of other humans. Story follows a family on the run and trying to get to a free city.

 

INCINERATOR

Writer: Jay Eden

Rep:  Jeff Ross Entertainment (Jeff Ross)

Buyer:  Boies/Schiller Film Group

Genre:  Thriller

Logline:  Under wraps.

INK AND BONE

Writer:  Zak Olkewicz

Reps:  WME (Daniel Cohan, Mike Esola) and Prolific (Will Rowbotham)

Buyer:  Dimension Films

Genre:  Horror thriller

Notes:  Matthew Singer and Keith Levine will supervise for the studio.

Logline:  When an editor is dispatched to help a reclusive horror writer finish his latest book, she discovers he’s being held prisoner in his house by everything he has ever written.

 

MURDER CITY

Writer:  Will Simmons

Reps:  UTA (Jason Burns, Geoff Morley) and Energy Entertainment(Brooklyn Weaver)

Buyer:  Aldamisa Entertainment

Genre:  Crime thriller

Attachments:  Energy’s Weaver will produce.

Notes:  Script was on the 2012 Black List.

Logline:  To save the life of his family, an ex-cop, stripped of his badge after getting involved in a drug deal gone bad, must pay off his dying father’s debt.

 

ONE NIGHT ON THE HUDSON

Writer:  TJ Fixman

Reps:  WME (Adriana Alberghetti) and Fourth Floor Productions (Jeff Silver)

Buyer:  Universal

Genre:  Action comedy

Attachments:  Seth Gordon (“Identity Thief”) will direct, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis will star.  Disruption Entertainment’s Mary Parent and Cale Boyter will produce.

Notes:  Script originally went out in June 2011 from UTA.  Scott Bernstein will oversee for the studio.

Logline:  On his first night on the job, a by-the-books rookie cop and his jaded veteran partner are tasked with transporting a federal witness from New Jersey to Manhattan. The only things standing in their way?  Dirty cops, dirty criminals, and the Hudson River.

 

ORBIT

Writer:  Bruce Guido

Reps:  Energy Entertainment (Brooklyn Weaver)

Buyer:  Amazon Studios

Genre:  Contained sci-fi thriller

Attachments:  Weaver will produce through Energy with Adam Rodin.

Logline:  A team of astronauts orbiting the earth may be the world’s only hope during a devastating alien attack.

 

PAY THE GHOST

Writer:  Dan Kay

Reps:  Kaplan Stahler (Shan Ray) and New Wave Entertainment(Josh Adler, Mike Goldberg)

Buyer:  Voltage Pictures

Genre:  Supernatural thriller

Attachments:  Ian Levy will produce through his Midnight Kitchen Productions.

Logline:  In the days leading up to Halloween, a husband and wife get a second chance to save their child from the supernatural forces that stole him away the year before.

 

About The Scoggins Report:

The Scoggins Report is a terribly unscientific analysis of the feature film development business based on information assembled from a variety of public and non-public sources.  The numbers in the reports are by no means official statistics.

 Caveat emptor.

Mol?n labé.

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