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2012 Spec Script Sales Analysis: Agents & Managers

On Monday, we broke down the 2012 spec script sales by genre. Yesterday by studios. Today by representatives.

Note: A majority of projects were repped by both an agency and a manager / management company, so the total numbers of reps listed will be significantly higher than the number of scripts sold.

First the agencies. The numbers in parentheses mark 2011 totals.

Agencies

William Morris Endeavor (WME) – 25 [20]

United Talent Agency (UTA) – 16 [15]

Creative Artists Agency (CAA) – 12 [22]

International Creative Management (ICM) – 8 [10]

APA – 7 [6]

Gersh – 6 [5]

Paradigm – 6 [10]

Verve – 5 [2]

Original Artists – 2 [4]

Borhman Agency, The – 1 [N/A]

Devra Lieb and Dan Vantresca – 1 [N/A]

Managers

5
Circle of Confusion [4]
Energy Entertainment [4]
Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment [5]

4
Anonymous Content [1]
Madhouse Entertainment [1]

3
Benderspink [4]
Industry Entertainment [4]
Magnet Management [2]
Mosaic Media [N/A]
Prolific Entertainment [N/A]

2
Gotham Group, The [3]
Hung Entertainment [1]
Management 360 [3]
New Wave Entertainment [6]

1
3 Arts [N/A]
59 Management [N/A]
Alan Gasmer & Friends [N/A]
Andy Cohen [N/A]
Aperture Entertainment [N/A]
Apostle [N/A]
Brian Lutz Management [N/A]
Brucks Entertainment [1]
Caliber Media [1]
Chad Snopek Management [N/A]
Christopher Pratt [N/A]
DMG Entertainment [N/A]
Elevate Entertainment [N/A]
Empirical Management [N/A]
Evolution Entertainment [1]
Frasco Entertainment [N/A]
H2F Entertainment [7]
Heroes and Villians [1]
Jewerl Ross [1]
Kailey Marsh Management [N/A]
Mindframe Entertainment [N/A]
MXN [1]
MTW [N/A]
Oasis Media Group [N/A]
Rain Management Group [N/A]
Station 3 Entertainment [N/A]
UFUSE Management [N/A]
Underground Management [1]

You should familiarize yourself with these players because if you do write a hot spec script, these are some of the names who will be banging at your door to represent and manage you.

Tomorrow: The big money spec script sales of 2012.

2012 Spec Script Sales Analysis: Studios

Yesterday we looked at 2012 spec script sales by genre. Today we break down the numbers per studios and production companies to see which were the most and least active in the script acquisition market. The totals:

12
Paramount

9
Sony
Universal

7
Warner Bros.

6
Millennium

4
QED International

3
Twentieth Century Fox
Voltage Pictures

2
Chernin Entertainment
Disney
Legendary Pictures
Lionsgate
New Regency
WWE Studios

1
Allied International
Angry Films
Arclight Entertainment
Black Forest Film Group
Chickie the Cop Entertainment
Code Entertainment
College Humor
Davis Entertainment
Derby Street Films
Dimension Films
DMG Entertainment
Dreamworks
Endgame Entertainment
Enderby Entertainment
Fox 2000
Hammer
Ian Bryce
IM Global Octane
Indian Paintbrush
Killer Films
Latitude Productions
Lascaux Films
Lava Bear
Myriad Pictures
New Line
Nu Image
Paradox
Participant Media
Payam Films
Relativity Media
Scott Pictures
Screen Gems
Sidney Kimmel Entertainment
Silver Pictures
Sobini Films
Sentinel Pictures
SkyRock Venture

Look at these numbers from the years 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 per each major studio:

Disney 5 / 1 / 2 / 1 / 2
DreamWorks 6 / 4 / 1 / 2 / 1
Paramount 1 / 5 / 4 / 4 / 12
Sony Pictures 8 / 4 / 1 / 7 / 9
Twentieth Century Fox 5 / 3 / 1 / 7 / 3
Universal 6 / 6 / 1 / 6 / 9
Warner Bros. 8 / 8 / 8 / 15 / 7

While Warner Bros. came back down to earth this year on the spec script front, Paramount, Universal and Sony all procured more, most notably Paramount jumping up from 4 to 12 spec script deals.

Last year the major Hollywood studios were involved in 43 of the 99 spec script deals which amounts to 43% of total transactions, compared to 38% in 2011, 33% in 2010, 45% in 2009 and 43% in 2008. So the rebound in spec sales the last two years has been influenced by the major studios returning to the form they had in 2008 and 2009.

Here is a breakdown of acquisitions by genre at major and mini-major studios:

Paramount
Almanac  — Thriller
The Cellar — Contained Thriller
Draft Day — Comedy
God Particle  — Science Fiction
The Gun Eaters  — Action Thriller
Huck — Drama Adventure
Monster Problems – Science Fiction Romance
Our Name Is Adam — Science Fiction
Patrol — Action Thriller
Sanctuary — Action Supernatural
Swindle – Action
Wunderkind — Action Thriller

Sony
Bloodshot — Action
El Tigre  — Comedy
Epsilon  — Science Fiction
Invertigo — Science Fiction
Lockdown At Franklin High — Horror Thriller
Rockets’ Red Glare  — Action Thriller
Savage Planet  — Action
Untitled Cameron Crowe Project  — Drama Romance
White House Down — Action

Universal
— Thriller
Bethlehem — Supernatural
Black Box  — Action Thriller
The Disciple Program — Thriller
Lights Out  — Science Fiction Thriller
NSFW — Thriller
Subdivision  — Science Fiction Comedy
Thirteen — Thriller
Untitled McCormick Cop Comedy — Comedy

Warner Bros.
Lore — Science Fiction Action
Pontius Pilate  — Drama
Run All Night — Action
Somacell  — Thriller
Son of a Bitch  — Comedy
Tape 4 – Horror
The Waiting — Thriller

Twentieth Century Fox
Arminius – Historical Drama
Cardiac — Action Thriller
Dear Satan — Comedy

Disney
Saving Mr. Banks — Drama
Ground Control to Major Tom — Romantic Comedy

Lionsgate
Action No. 1 — Action Comedy
Vanish Man — Thriller

Dreamworks
Glimmer  — Science Fiction

If you want to know what is fueling the Action, Thriller, Action Thriller frenzy, look no further than those slates above.

Also of the 12 science fiction specs that got set up last year, 9 of them are with the majors. That makes sense because sci-fi movies generally cost more to produce and are big tentpole type of projects.

Of the independent companies, Millennium Films was notably active in the spec script market in 2012:

High Value Target — Action
Lauren Pemberton Is No Longer In A Relationship — Romantic Comedy
Match — Romantic Comedy
My Owner’s Wedding — Romantic Comedy
Olympus Has Fallen — Action
Playing Dirty — Thriller

In 2011, they were involved in 3 spec script deals. Last year, 6. Since Millennium produced The Expendables which grossed $274M and The Expendables 2 which grossed $300M, they can afford to drop some serious coin on script acquisition and development.

Interesting that half of the projects they acquired in 2012 were rom-coms.

What do you take away from this information?

Tomorrow: Agents and managers.

2012 Spec Script Sales Analysis: Genres

By my count, Hwood studios and production groups acquired 99 spec scripts in 2012. During this week, I’ll be breaking down those numbers.

Today we look at sales by genre. Some scripts are categorized as cross genres or sub-genres, so those are noted where relevant under their primary genre category.

Note: Genre designations are not scientific, so you have to understand these numbers are general.

2012 SPEC SCRIPT SALES BY GENRE

ACTION 29
Action Thriller 12
Action Crime 1
Action Fantasy 1
Action Heist 1
Action Romance 1
Action Supernatural 1

THRILLER 20
Contained Thriller 1
Crime Thriller 1
Psychological Thriller 1
Supernatural Thriller 1

COMEDY 20
Romantic Comedy 6
Action Comedy 2

SCIENCE FICTION 12
Science Fiction Thriller 2
Science Fiction Action 1
Science Fiction Comedy 1
Science Fiction Romance 1

DRAMA 12
Drama Adventure 1
Drama Romance 1

HORROR 9
Horror Thriller 4
Horror Supernatural 2

SUPERNATURAL 1

First let’s compare to 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

2008 (88 sales)

COMEDY 41
ACTION 13
DRAMA 12
THRILLER 10
FANTASY 3
SCIENCE FICTION 3
ADVENTURE 2
DISASTER 2
FAMILY 1
HORROR 1

2009 (68 sales)

COMEDY 26
THRILLER 12
ACTION 11
DRAMA 7
SCIENCE FICTION 4
ROMANTIC COMEDY 3
FAMILY 1
FANTASY 1
HEIST 1
HORROR 1
MURDER MYSTERY 1

2010 (55 sales)

COMEDY 16
ACTION 14
THRILLER 10
SCIENCE FICTION 7
DRAMA 4
FAMILY 2
FANTASY 1
MYSTERY 1

2011 (110 sales)

ACTION 29
THRILLER 20
COMEDY 19
DRAMA 14
SCIENCE FICTION 13
HORROR 8
FAMILY 2
FAIRY TALE 1
HEIST 1
SUPERNATURAL 1
WESTERN 1

2012 (99 sales)

ACTION 27
THRILLER 20
COMEDY 20
SCIENCE FICTION 12
DRAMA 10
HORROR 9
SUPERNATURAL 1

* The first thing that strikes me is how consistent the numbers were in terms of genre between 2011 and 2012: Action 29/27, Thriller 20/20, Comedy 19/20, Drama 14/10, Science Fiction 13/12, Horror 8/9. Granted this does not take into account all the other projects acquired over the course of the year such as pitches, nonfiction books, novels and the like, but apart from a decline in Drama, the numbers are remarkably the same. Does this suggest buyers are comfortable with the current approach to what areas on which they are focusing?

* Action and Thriller continue to top the charts, and everyone I talk to about this — managers, producers, writers — the first thing out of their mouths is “international market.” Action and Thriller movies are more visual in nature, less reliant on dialogue, thus more ‘translatable’ around the world. Plus — and this is a broad generalization — these two genres can tend to have more simplistic universe in terms of Bad Guys and Good Guys which also makes these movies more accessible to foreign audiences.

* Comedy has dropped precipitously since 2008 [by 50%] in terms of spec script sales and there exists something of a bad rap about the genre in Hollywood’s conventional wisdom in that the genre doesn’t ‘travel’ well internationally. Language issues, cultural specificity for jokes, and so forth. And yet it seems to have hit a bottom line in sales and is tied for 2nd in 2012. No matter what, comedies — especially those doable for a price — continue to be a favored genre in Hollywood.

* If you add up all the genres and sub-genres with Thriller in them in 2012, you come up with 36 spec script sales. That represents 36% of sales which means for the second year in a row, Thriller is #1 in the script acquisition market.

It appears the buyers are still in a ‘dark’ mood, I’m guessing because they figure that reflects the general sensibilities of movie audiences. Action, Thriller, Horror is well over 50% of spec script sales. And yet it’s interesting to note that Rom-Coms made a comeback in 2012 with 6 sales. Could that be a harbinger of more interest in lighter, more comedic fare?

What do you think when you look at these numbers? Will they have any impact on what stories you choose to write in 2013?

Head over to comments to post your observations and analysis of the year in spec script sales.

For the entire list of 99 spec script sales in the last year, go here.

Spec Script Sales 2012: Overview

We may have another script acquisition deal announced before the end of the year, but that is unlikely as most people in the film business have left town for the Holidaze. As noted with today’s deal for the spec “Peste,” my count for the year is 95 deals. That is likely not a definitive number at this point. Over the next week or so, I will be reviewing deals to see if there are some to add to the list.

For example, The Scoggins Report, put together by Jason Scoggins and Cindy Kaplan, is reporting there were 104 spec sales in 2012. Plus they have tracked another 22 deals for scripts submitted before this year which brings their total up to 126 deals.

As I have discussed before, tracking spec script deals is an inexact science. What exactly constitutes a “spec script”? Some deals that are reported involve zero dollars, some are options involving a few thousand to ten thousand dollars. Are those “sales”? I don’t count them as such, but others do, so sifting through the details leads to some gray area.

In any event, I will go through deals reported in The Scoggins Report as well as other sources I have to finalize the 2012 GITS spec script sales list.

As of now, sales are down 16% compared to last year’s total. On Twitter @SeanCrose asked: “I was thinking last year the spec market was back. Don’t tell me it’s fading into ether again.”

Actually even if the final number of spec deals stands at 95, that is a good year. Here are the sales totals from 1991-2011:

1991: 28
1992: 40
1993: 89
1994: 101
1995: 173
1996: 155
1997: 141
1998: 110
1999: 83
2000: 92
2001: 101
2002: 114
2003: 89
2004: 75
2005: 58
2006: 59
2007: 64
2008: 88
2009: 67
2010: 55
2011: 110

The numbers in 1991 and 1992 do not reflect actual total deals, rather those numbers are more about the lack of sources available back then to track acquisitions. So if we toss out those two years and just look at 1993-2011 [19 years], there were 1824 spec script deals. That averages out to 96 spec script sales per year, which means the current total of deals in 2012 — 95 — is almost exactly the same total.

But let’s dig a bit deeper: What if we just consider the last 10 years [2003-2012], basically the period after spec script’s so-called Golden Era (1995-20020. During the last decade, the average number of spec script sales per year has been 76. In that context, 95 spec script deals is a very healthy number.

If you talk with managers and agents, the overall sense you get is it’s a tough market and nowhere near the ‘stupid money’ days of 1995-1997, but studios and independent production entities with their own financing are definitely buying content, not just spec scripts, but pitches, novels, graphic novels, comic books, and so forth.

In other words, the last two years represent a significantly better situation than 2010 when the consensus was the spec script market was pretty much ‘dead’.

The total of spec script deals may be down compared to last year. If you believe The Scoggins Report, deals are actually up slightly compared to 2011.

No matter the exact numbers, the bottom line is the spec script market rebounded in a big way in 2011 and remained strong in 2012.

If I surface additional deals from this year, I will post those during the next couple of weeks, eventually finalizing a year-end list with totals.

Then in January, I will do my annual breakdown of spec script sales: Agents & Managers, First Timers, Genres, Studios, Top Sales.