Why Do Bad Screenplays Get Green-Lighted?

Is it just by chance, or does Hollywood really love terrible scripts? Some of the movies getting made today are so bad, they are almost kind of good, here’s why.

Remember back in 2003 when ‘Gigli’ came out? Painful. Or what about in 2006 when Newline cinema released Samuel L Jackson’s ‘Snakes On a Plane’? He didn’t even read the script. Even the producers knew it wasn’t good, but who could pass at such an epic title?

The cult following of Samuel L Jackson was enough to make this a winning project. Matching the one liners of ‘Pulp Fiction’, audiences were just craving for some bad-ass cheese, and did they deliver. By putting our fears of nature’s deadly snakes in a claustrophobic plane environment and a zero-tolerance, word combo spewing Sam Jackson, it was instant gold. In this case, the script subject was enough for audiences to buy it, but also because of Samuel L Jackson, it was easier to market.

Sometimes great movies don’t get made because they can’t find an audience intrigued enough to give a damn, or there isn’t a big demographic to support it. It’s sad, but turning a profit on indie releases and experimental genres in a slump, especially when digital piracy is gaining ground, is difficult. Sure, independent movies have their place, and some go on to be huge winners at the box office, but it is so hard for them to breakout into mainstream audiences. Perhaps it’s because we are so conditioned to expect explosions, horror or ‘Meet The Parents 4’ that we spend most of our money on the blockbuster films at the theatre and forget about the rest. Even though indie films are some of the most inspiring creations and tell riveting stories, they continue to struggle to get a voice.

So for screenwriters does it mean that a quick way to success is to have a really catchy title and a short synopsis to get their film made and win at the box office? Are you a screenwriter? Are you finding it hard to get your scripts made, or are you making it big time with a movie title like ‘Pandas on a train’?

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