Thursday, March 31, 2016

THRILLER Thursday: Parasite Mansion

Best Of THRILLER: Parasite Mansion.

The spider web fills the screen, it's Boris Karloff's THRILLER!

Season: 1, Episode: 30.
Airdate: April 25, 1961

Director: Herschel Daugherty
Writer: Donald Sanford, based on a story by Mary Elizabeth Counselman.
Cast: Jeanette Nolan, Pippa Scott, James Griffith, Tommy Nolan and Beverly Washburn.
Music: Morton Stevens
Cinematography: John Russell
Producer: William Frye

Boris Karloff’s Introduction: “Hospitality. Good old Southern hospitality. That’s what I like about the South. This is a room in Parasite Mansion, the name of our story tonight and the home of the Harrads. A fanily plagued for generations with a horrible curse. Parasite Mansion is a terrible place to visit, but obviously an excellent place in which to die. Featured in our story tonight are Jeannette Nolan, James Griffith, Beverly Washburn, Tommy Nolan, and Pippa Scott. One of these poor unfortunates is doomed to die before your eyes. Oh, oh! Don’t try to guess, you might be right and spoil all the fun.”

Synopsis: A stormy night somewhere in the backwoods of Louisiana. Marcia Hunter (Pippa Scott) takes a wrong turn after encountering a detour when the main highway is closed for construction... and sees a rambling old house through the pouring rain. Maybe an old plantation house. She drives towards it... and someone begins shooting at her! Marcia spins the steering wheel, hits a tree and crashes her car... hitting her head against the steering wheel and blacking out.

From the house, Victor Harrod (James Griffith) and Granny (Jeannette Nolan) brave the rain to investigate. Victor says they need to keep that rifle out of Rennie’s hands, he keeps doing stuff like this.

Marcia wakes up in an ancient bed in the old house... wearing only her underwear. What happened? Just as she works up the nerve to get out of bed and get her clothes on the other side of the room, perpetually drunk Victor and Granny enter the room and she gets back under the covers. Marcia wants to leave, Victor says that’s not possible. No phone to call for help (nearest phone is ten miles as the crow flies through the swamp), and it’s going to take a couple of days for Victor to fix her car so that it runs. Plus, she needs her rest, Victor had to put five stitches in her head. Marcia says, so you’re a doctor? Victor answers, “Not a doctor. We gotta learn to do our own doctoring out here.” Marcia pleads to leave: she was headed home to her parent’s in Shreveport... but Granny has gone through her purse, and read her mail, and knows that she’s actually headed to New Orleans to meet a man. They have completely violated her privacy. Victor tells her to just get her rest and they leave.

Marcia waits until night, puts on her clothes, and sneaks out... noticing a door at the top of the stairs with a massive padlock (what could be inside there that they need to lock it in?) on her way down to the front door... but once outside, Rennie (Tommy Nolan) starts shooting at her! Yelling that “She’s one those folks who took ma!” Victor wrestles the gun away from Rennie and Granny grabs her, “You can’t leave here alive!”

Marcia wakes up in the bed again. She tells Victor she doesn’t blame Rennie, she understands that the authorities came and took his mother to an asylum and he’s afraid he’ll be taken as well. Granny comes in with food, mentions the house’s dark secrets. “The Dark Fear”. When they leave, Victor locks Marcia in the room.

Marcia tries to find a way out... the windows are boarded up, door locked... but she notices a door frame behind the wardrobe. Pulling the wardrobe back (no shortage of cobwebs) she opens the door... into more webs and darkness. Grabbing the lantern, she finds a staircase and climbs up to a room... where a frightened teenaged girl Lolly (Beverly Washburn) is hidden. Lolly’s room is behind that padlocked door upstairs. Weird drawings on the walls of the room. Lolly says “You’re here to take me away!” Marcia calms her, says she’s a friend, offers Lolly her broach... and suddenly the broach levitates and flies across the room on its own! Lolly screams, her arm has suddenly begun bleeding. Granny is at the doorway, says now you’ve seen the whole family, time to go back to your room.

Back in the room, Granny asks if he has any last requests? Marcia tries to bribe Granny with her engagement ring, Granny says she’ll get that one way or the other anyway...

Downstairs Victor wants to let her leave, Granny says “She saw!” Now she can never leave. Victor tells her they will *all* have dinner in the dining room tonight. Marcia and Lolly and Rennie.

Marcia finds the door unlocked, goes downstairs, tells Victor that what Lolly has is stigmata, and he has read about it. Victor says he has, too... shows her a wall of books on stigmata. None of them have the answers. “We’re afraid of *it*: the thing that threw your broach, the thing that scratched Lolly.” For the past couple of generations the Harrod family has been cursed by *it*. Do you know what a poltergeist is? “An invisible parasite that attaches to people... it has attached itself to every woman in the Harrod family for the past three generations. Granny says you get used to it, like lice and other crawling things.

A tense dinner. Marcia notices that there is an extra place setting at the table. That’s for the poltergeist, she’s told. Wham! Lolly’s cup jumps off the table and begins striking the little girl in the head again and again! Granny laughs. The cup beats Lolly’s face and she begins bleeding... she runs away! Everyone is scared except Granny. Marcia says poltergeist or not, she’s going to destroy it and get the hell out of here!

When Marcia goes back to her room, Granny tells Victor they have to kill her. If she messes with the poltergeist, it’s just going to take it out on the whole family. They can kill her, put her in her car, and dump it in the swamp.

Marcia sleeps as the secret door opens and Rennie comes into the room with a knife. He creeps to the side of her bed and gets ready to stab her... but can’t. Granny whispers “Kill her! Kill her!” from the secret doorway. Granny takes the knife from Rennie to kill Marcia herself. Marcia wakes up, fights Granny for the knife, knocks it out of her hands... but Granny makes the knife levitate! The knife zips across the room into Granny’s hand! *Granny* is telekenetic! The family curse began when Granny married into the family and moved into the house. Granny has made everyone think that it’s a poltergeist haunting the Harrod women, when it was her all along! Victor comes in, hears all of this, wrestles with Granny... but Granny is more powerful! Except they have knocked over the oil lamp, and it ignites Granny’s dress, setting her on fire! She runs out of the house in flames and dies in a burning heap in the swamp.

Marcia asks Victor if their poltergeist ever acted up when Granny wasn’t around? The poltergeist is gone, the family curse is lifted... it was Granny.

Review: Nice creepy entry. They must have used a ton of cobwebs to dress this set! The cobwebs on the secret door are particularly cool because they stretch when the wardrobe is pulled away from the door. Though this was made before wires could be digitally removed, the effects are really good! You can’t see the wires at all, and the cup and broach and knife move convincingly.

One of the great things is how the story evolves. At first we think the “curse” is insanity, then it’s a poltergeist phenomena in teenage Lolly, and it finally becomes evil Granny who is secretly causing all of this dark fear in the family so that she can control them. It is a house of secrets, and when one secret is revealed it just creates another. The mysteries drive the story, with Marcia thinking that family insanity is the secret only to discover Lolly locked away, only to discover the poltergeist activity. But even that isn’t the secret, and she keeps digging until she finds out. Just when you think you know what’s going on, another secret door opens and you realize you are still in the dark.

I really wanted to read this story before writing this entry due to Granny’s line about the lice and crawly things, which are parasites like the poltergeist. I was wondering if there was more about that in the story... but the book is out of print, and my local library branch didn’t have a copy. They could get it for me, but not by “press time”... so I will have the answer to that whenever all of these entries add up to an ebook.

I know that this was one of Stephen King’s favorite TV shows, and since one of the elements of this episode is a teenage girl who seems to have telekinetic powers which includes knives shooting across a room, I wonder if this was an inspiration for his novel CARRIE?

The spooky old mansion will return in a few episode in Stephen King’s favorite episode, PIGEONS FROM HELL... but next week we have a fun episode starring Edward Andrews who did three episodes of THRILLER and specialized in whimsical malevolence. You know his face from every TV show ever made plus movies like GREMLINS. He is the adult image of mischief!


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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Old Burt Lancaster

This week we’re going to look at Burt Lancaster’s career when other actors had long since retired. Robert Mitchum continued to play tough guys, Lancaster played *retired* tough guys the way Clint Eastwood plays roles like that today.

Lancaster was an interesting guy... A working class kid who was a high school athlete, landed a college sports scholarship but dropped out to become a *circus acrobat*. He also worked as a singing waiter before WW2, and when he returned from the war he auditioned for a play and landed on Broadway... where he was discovered by a talent agent (who would later become his producing partner). He was a handsome athletic guy who could sing and dance... and make women swoon. His first role was the *lead* in THE KILLERS with Ava Gardner directed by Robert Siodmak (who directed CRISS CROSS and some other great Lancaster films). Lancaster was kind of like the George Clooney of his day: he didn’t just want to play handsome men in typical Hollywood movies, he wanted to control his career... so he formed a production company and began making his own films. Like Clooney, these were often the kind of edgy and unusual films that the studios *wouldn’t* make... like SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS. And Lancaster grabbed his circus pal Nick to do stunts and often co star in films. Lancaster was nominated for a pile of Oscars, won one for ELMER GANTRY, and continued to make interesting films throughout his career (a string of great films with John Frankenheimer, and the recently released to BluRay THE SWIMMER which is probably the weirdest movie ever made with a Hollywood star). But when he was getting up there in years... he seemed to be rediscovered.

Though the movie that really brought him back (he didn’t go anywhere) was ATLANTIC CITY in 1980, I’m going to start off with the only movie he directed, THE MIDNIGHT MAN (1974), the story of an old tough guy ex cop working as a security guard on a college campus who finds himself at the center of a murder investigation. It’s kind of a geriatric private eye movie that deals with aging and action at the same time, I think most people have forgotten it. Susan Clark and Harris Yulin from NIGHT MOVES pop up, and screenwriters Quinn Redeker (DEER HUNTER) and Bill Lancaster (THE THING) (Burt’s son) play roles. It wasn’t a hit, but I think it got some good reviews. I read the novel (“The Midnight Lady And The Mourning Man” by David Anthony) and probably saw the movie when it opened in my town. Haven’t seen it since, and I’m curious what it looks like now that *I’m* older.

1900 (NOVECENTO) (1976) is one of my favorite movies, but a completely acquired taste. Bernardo Bertolucci’s sprawling story of Italy from the year 1900 to 1976 stars Robert DeNiro and a young handsome Gerard Depardieu as childhood friends from different sides of the tracks who fall in love with the same woman (Dominique Sanda). DeNiro is the son of the wealthy estate owner, Burt Lancaster... and Depardieu is the dirt poor kid of the senior field worker, Sterling Hayden. This film is filled with beautiful images and an amazing performance by Donald Sutherland. Lancaster and Hayden, two old tough guys, are great in the early part of the film when the two lead characters are little boys. This was one of several films that Lancaster made in Italy as an older actor.

ATLANTIC CITY (1980) was the film where people noticed Lancaster all over again, playing a retired mobster living in Atlantic City and pretending to have once been more important than he really was. He hooks up with a young casino worker played by Susan Sarandon, who applies lemon juice to various places on her body... and wants to get enough money together to move to the south of France. She’s married to a bum who steals some drugs from the mob, and brings a whole world of hurt down on them... and Lancaster’s mostly tall tales of being a mobster turn to action reality. This is a kind of a film noir mixed with Italian neo realism... and shows an Atlantic City that no longer exists. The city before it was rebuilt with all of the new casinos.

LOCAL HERO (1983) is a great film. If you haven’t seen it, stop everything you are doing now (except breathing) and check it out! This is a gentle comedy by Bill Forsythe about an oil company flunky (Peter Riegert) sent into a small Scotland town to convince the residents that they should accept and love the new oil company refinery that is going where their town used to be... and move the heck out. This is one of those great movies that feels like a life changing experience, and is kind of the prototype for many UK comedies to come like WAKING NED DEVINE about unusual occupants of small towns. When Riegert runs into trouble getting some townspeople to sell the homes that have been in their families for generations for something as silly as *money*, the big boss (Lancaster) comes to town to convince them... and ends up recapturing the magic of small town life and decided that maybe this isn’t the right spot for a refinery.

Just for fun, I’m throwing in TOUGH GUYS (1986), a buddy comedy with very old buddies... Lancaster and Kirk Douglas are the old version of the kind of gangster roles they played, just released from prison and trying to figure out how the world works now. The film is uneven, but has some funny scenes that I can still remember... including one where Lancaster and Douglas end up in a gay bar without knowing it... and are asked to dance. These two guys realize they are never going to fit in with the world now... and decide to go back to their armed robbery past.

And though his career still had a few films to go, let’s wrap it up with FIELD OF DREAMS (1989), because I saw it on the big screen at the Egyptian Theater about a year ago and it was still an experience. Lancaster plays Moonlight Graham, who played only one game in the Major Leagues and then retired to become a country doctor. Lancaster plays the old version of Graham, again playing the old retired tough guy... this time a retired athlete. Lancaster began as a high school athlete and gets to play the old version of that in FIELD OF DREAMS.

Even at the end of his career, Lancaster was charming and charismatic and commanded the screen in every scene... and still virile as hell. One of those larger than life movie stars who had a great onscreen third act playing characters who were old but still cooler than I’ll ever be.


Monday, March 28, 2016

Lancelot Link Monday: Superhero Showdown

Lancelot Link Monday! BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: No Matter Who Wins, We Lose! Because the film made so much money in its opening weekend, we're getting another round of those articles about "Critic Proof" movies - I swear they just change the film title and republish the old ones. Hey, a movie like BATMAN V SUPERMAN was *always* going to have a huge opening weekend. Even with bad reviews. Bad reviews actually *fuel* the opening weekend - "Can it be as bad as they say it is? Let's go see it and find out!" But the real issue is: The critics have seen the film, the people who bought tickets on opening weekend didn't... but now have. So will they want to see the movie again and maybe even again? Will they provide good word of mouth when their friends ask? My FB friends are mixed on this film - some think it's not that bad, others think it *is* that bad. I have yet to read a glowing excellent you've gotta see this review from any of my FB friends (many of whom are the target audience for this). I suspect next weekend will be pretty good, too - but here's the thing: STAR WARS TFA was #13 over the weekend... and that's been out since *last year*. Will BVS have that kind of staying power? While you're thinking about that, here are this week's links to some great screenwriting and film articles, plus some fun stuff that may be of interest to you. Brought to you by that suave and sophisticated secret agent...

Here are a baker's dozen links plus this week's car chase...

1) Weekend Box Office Estimates:
1 Batman V Superm................ $170,100,000
2 Zootopia........................ $23,138,000
3 MBFGW2.......................... $18,120,000
4 Miracles......................... $9,500,000
5 Allegiant........................ $9,500,000
6 10 Cloverfield................... $6,000,000
7 Deadpool......................... $5,000,000
8 London Bridges................... $2,926,000
9 Doris............................ $1,700,925
10 Eye Sky.......................... $1,001,204

Though the *current* reported budget for BATMAN V SUPERMAN is $250 million, before the bad reviews kicked in the budget was over $410 million as of October of last year! That's before post production overages and reshoots and P&A advertising and everything else! Yikes! It's common for studios to under report budgets when things get out of hand and there's concern that a film may not perform as well as they thought. So BVS will have to do STAR WARS business to break even. Hopefully it will do great business and Warner Bros will be able to fund another MAD MAX movie.

2) Return On Investment? Small Movies With Big Profits.

3) Writing DOUBLE INDEMNITY With Wilder & Chandler.

4) Women & Minority Writers - This Get Worse According To WGA.

5) And The Actual WGA Report.

6) J.K. Rowling's Rejection Letters.

7) As The Guy Who Gave Albert Whitlock The Welcome Mat That He Used In Front Of His Trailer, I Love Old School Effects Like This...

8) From 3 Minute Proof Of Concept Short To Feature Film - LIGHTS OUT.

9) I Think The Premise Is Wrong - Hitchcock Didn't *Block* Scenes, He Used Specific Shots (Often Altering The Set For The Shot), But Interesting Look At VERTIGO.

10) Dialogue Is Like Toilet Paper...

11) The Cannes Game Begins!

12) What Script Readers And Development People Look For In Your Screenplay. This is GOLD!

13) BATMAN Vs. SUPERMAN - The Previous Fights Before This Week's Rematch!

BONUS: DEADPOOL Effects. And the Car Chase Of The Week:

RIP: Garry Shandling.


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Friday, March 25, 2016

Fridays With Hitchcock:
HITCH 20: POISON (s3e2)

This is a great new documentary series called HITCH 20 that I am a "guest expert" on. The series looks at the 20 TV episodes directed by Hitchcock and here is the second episode of the third season, which looks at the terror of the unseen in Hitchcock's work.

Notes on the episode:

First off: How cool is the Poking The Tiger graphic? That totally made my day!

Many things get cut for time, so let’s talk about them here...

1) Once again, sorry for the sound issues - I think that’s why so little of my comments end up in this episode.

2) Though this story takes place somewhere in the tropics it was shot on the Revue Lot in Studio City (now CBS Radford) on a soundstage. The next three episodes covered were shot when the show had moved a couple of miles down the street at Universal, so that’s where I’ll be for those episodes.

3) This story by Roald Dahl is probably best known as a famous radio drama from Escape Radio Theater starring Jack Webb and William Conrad - that show’s most famous episode. Because this story deals with the unseen, radio is a perfect medium for it... our imaginations are already primed because we have to imagine everything else... so when you add that poisonous snake we can easily imagine the worst. Here is a page with a link to that episode: ESCAPE RADIO THEATER - POISON.

4) Hey, speaking of the unseen and that clip from JAWS - one of the cool things about this episode is that it deals with *dread*, which is a cousin to suspense. I think I talk a little more about that at the end of the episode. Dread is the “fuel” for horror because it’s roots are in “fear of the unknown” - we know that something terrible may happen but we don’t know when that will happen: it’s the Hitchcock bomb under the table and ticking clock... with no clock. When we can’t see the threat and we don’t known when or where it will strike, this creates unease in the audience and fear. Though people often credit the mechanical shark breakdown with the success of JAWS (because without the shark they had to depend on dread) I’m fairly sure that Spielberg is a smart enough filmmaker to know how dread works and had probably seen CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (from the same studio as JAWS) and knew that it’s more effective *not* to show the monster before the attack to create dread... which is fear of the unknown, and often unseen.

By the way - even in a monster movie you eventually must show the monster (as this episode eventually shows us the snake) because the audience needs to know that it actually exists. Seeing is believing. Watch JAWS again and note how the *fin* is in almost every scene just before the shark attack. Just because the shark is below the surface and can not be seen before the attack doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist - you still need to show it, so that the audience will know it. The monster is there - in the shadows - and eventually you must show it when it attacks!

The technique of dread may be an element of horror movies, but it can be used in any genre. One of the Trailer Tuesdays in rotation is on the noir film GUN CRAZY which uses dread in it’s final scene - where our protagonist couple are trying to escape from the police and end up huddled together in a foggy swamp with the *sounds* of the police and their barking bloodhounds all around them. Because we can not see these threats, they create dread. It’s not suspense - a known threat (ticking clock or something we can see) but dread which deals with fear of the *unknown* and/or *unseen*.

This episode of HITCHCOCK PRESENTS uses elements from other genres - like dread from horror movies and the heist genre. I think that’s important for filmmakers to remember - just because your story is in one genre doesn’t mean you can’t use the tools and techniques of other genres. You want to use every tool and technique to make the best possible movie... so know the techniques and how they work!

5) As I said in the episode - whether it’s suspense or dread, you need to poke the tiger and remind the audience that the threat is there, so they don’t forget. You may think, “of course they won’t forget, that’s what the story is about!” but suspense (and dread) will *dissipate* if you don’t keep reminding the audience... and when something is unseen you have to keep those tiger pokes coming. The character’s coughing is a great way to poke the tiger - think of how often something like a sneeze is used in comedy films to do the same thing. Come up with a list of “pokes” to keep your suspense bubbling! “The chloroform will be very cold, but don’t move!” Coughing, sweating, his buddy poking and prodding, the chloroform, the tube, and everything else that can keep the suspense in the forefront of the audience’s mind! Keep poking that tiger!

6) In Hitchcock’s explanation of how suspense works, he talks about the bomb under the table that we know will go off at a specific time and the clock on the wall counting down the minutes... and the two people at the table talking about something innocuous like *baseball scores*. That last part is often forgotten or misunderstood by filmmakers and screenwriters... and of course, development folks. You not only don’t want any conversation that will distract from the suspense, you also want conversation that is *pointless* - if someone is saying something important or interesting or with purpose then the audience will understand why they aren’t focusing on the bomb under the table (or whatever the suspense generator is). That dissipates the suspense because there is other important information in the scene. So suspense *increases* if the conversation is meaningless... like that wrong number when phoning for the doctor in POISON. Not just the wrong number, but *talking about it* afterwards instead of getting right back to dialing that phone and getting help. Frustration is an element of suspense - “Don’t just stand there, do something! Do something!” One of the notes I’ve gotten in suspense scenes from clueless Development Execs deals with dialogue like those baseball score conversations... they just don’t understand the basics of how suspense works! You *want* that wrong number and then the silly conversation about making the mistake before dialing it again - that ramps up the suspense!

7) The Heist Genre element that I mention in the show: Heist movies usually have a scene where the plan is discussed step-by-step, and this episode uses that technique with the doctor’s plan to knock out the snake. He explains exactly what he is going to do, so that the audience can *anticipate* each step and its effect before it happens. Suspense is the *anticipation* of a known action... so the audience is now able to anticipate the outcome of each step in the plan... and wonder if things will go wrong. If they don’t know what is going to happen, there is no suspense - just things happening. Because we know what is *supposed to happen* in a heist scene, when something doesn’t happen as planned the audience worries that it will cause larger problems. Here, each step in the plan to knock out that poisonous snake has the ability to go wrong and cause larger problems (well, the guy will be bitten and die - that’s a pretty big problem), so as each step is meticulously done and small problems occur, the audience is on the edge of their seats worried that even small deviations in the plan may have fatal consequences.

8) Love the ironic twist ending!

Next episode of HITCH 20 I’ll be a couple of miles down the street at Universal Studios, where the show moved to after this season.

- Bill

Of course, I have my own book on Hitchcock...


Click here for more info!


We all know that Alfred Hitchcock was the Master Of Suspense, but did you know he was the most *experimental* filmmaker in history?

Contained Thrillers like “Buried”? Serial Protagonists like “Place Beyond The Pines”? Multiple Connecting Stories like “Pulp Fiction”? Same Story Multiple Times like “Run, Lola, Run”? This book focuses on 18 of Hitchcock’s 53 films with wild cinema and story experiments which paved the way for modern films. Almost one hundred different experiments that you may think are recent cinema or story inventions... but some date back to Hitchcock’s *silent* films! We’ll examine these experiments and how they work. Great for film makers, screenwriters, film fans, producers and directors.

Films Examined: “Rear Window”, “Psycho”, “Family Plot”, “Topaz”, “Rope”, “The Wrong Man”, “Easy Virtue”, “Lifeboat”, “Bon Voyage”, “Aventure Malgache”, “Elstree Calling”, “Dial M for Murder”, “Stage Fright”, “Champagne”, “Spellbound”, “I Confess”, and “The Trouble with Harry”, with glances at “Vertigo” and several others.

Professional screenwriter William C. Martell takes you into the world of The Master Of Suspense and shows you the daring experiments that changed cinema. Over 77,000 words.

UK Folks Click Here.

German Folks Click Here.

French Folks Click Here.

Espania Folks Click Here.

Canadian Folks Click Here.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Film Courage Plus: Spec or Contest?

FILM COURAGE did a series of interviews with me at the end of 2014, and then again at the end of 2015. As they have been releasing the interview segments from 2015 every week or so, I have dug back into their archives and tweeted some of the segments from 2014... so they won't be forgotten. There were something like 12 segments from 2014, and probably around 24 segments for 2015... and that's 36 (or more) segments total. That's almost a year's worth of material! So why not add a new craft article and make it a weekly blog entry? All I have to do is write that new article, right?

So here is the seventh one about having a great high concept spec *or* a high quality script that wins or places in a contest like the Nicholl. After doing all of my classes they grabbed me and interrogated me when I really wanted to just go home and take a nap.

In the clip I note two of the common ways to get into screenwriting - through spec scripts going out to market and through winning or being a finalist in one of the major contests. Spec scripts tend to get read due to their interesting concepts (“What’s it about?”) and contests are often more focused on the quality of the writing rather than the concept. Of course, there are a million spec screenplays in circulation in any given year and maybe 100 of those sell, so quality of writing is a massive component in spec screenplays as well. But whichever way gets you in, all roads lead to Hollywood... and Hollywood movies. You might write the awesome high concept screenplay which leads to an assignment writing that summer tentpole movie, or you might win a contest and land an assignment working on a summer tentpole movie. These days Hollywood is pretty much all tentpole all the time, so if you are a contest winner - be prepared!

There was a time - only about a decade ago - when Hollywood still made a certain number of mid-range movies, some of which were “prestige” films or dramas, but these days those films are made independently. Outside of the system, and usually written-directed-produced by the same person. They find the funding and make the film - no screenplay is actually sold (the film is funded). A movie like SPOTLIGHT doesn’t come from a studio, but from a filmmaker - Tom McCarthy, who co-wrote the screenplay and directed the film and secured the funding through his THE VISITOR producer Jeff Skoll. If you read my daily Script Tips you know that I've been a big fan of McCarthy since his first film THE STATION AGENT (which he found funding for). If you want to work outside the system and do your own thing, it has never been easier to do that. You can make a film for pocket change these days... and many people do. If you don’t want to write tentpoles and don’t want to make your own films, there are still some options available: TV is expanding right now, and even though many shows are high concept and similar to tentpole films (check out anything on the CW) there are still shows that are more low key and dramatic oriented like SHADES OF BLUE. The other option is to head to film festivals and find a director who needs a writing partner - some of my favorite genre films lately are the work of the director & writer team of Nick Damici and Jim Mickle. If you are a great writer there is a place somewhere for you in the business - studio or indie or TV or YouTube or whatever they come up with next. Every entertainment media needs *stories*, and that’s *us*. Finding your home will require that you open your eyes a little wider - if you are not writing the kinds of movies that are being made (and don’t want to write them), you’ll have to find the place where your type of writing is needed. Wait, how many ways to break in is that now?

The first thing you need to figure out is what your skill set is. You need to know what you do well, so that you can match that to a media and a method to break in. Heck, I have a book called BREAKING IN with dozens and dozens of ways to break in... but what’s important is what you are breaking in to... Studio films? Indies? Television? What are your skills and how do they match the media? If you want to break in to studio films, know that you will be writing studio films. There are people who want to write indie type stories for studios... and that seldom happens. Even if you win a contest, chances are if a studio based producer hires you it will be to do a rewrite on some high concept tentpole or comic book movie or maybe a board game turned into a script. That’s what Hollywood does - make big expensive mass audience films. No matter how you break in, that’s what you’re in for.


I look at different contests in the Breaking In Blue Book, and note that the King of all screenwriting contests is The Nicholl fellowship, which is run by those people who give out the Oscars every year. These days the Nicholl pays up to five winners $35,000... but it’s not just about the money, Hollywood producers and agents and managers *fight over* the winners! In fact, even if you don’t win they will fight over you: finalists and even semi-finalists usually get meetings with producers and agents and managers. Of course, there’s a reason *why* semi-finalists are still pretty damned good... there are *thousands* of entries every year (over 7,500 in 2014) and only about 5% advance to the competition quarter-finals, and only about 2% make it to the semi-finals and about ten entries reach the finals.

The Queen of screenwriting contests is probably Austin, and danged if my friend Max Adams didn’t win both the Nicholl and Austin in the same year with two different screenplays! This is probably why you should grab Max Adams’ book (in addition to mine).

The Prince of screenwriting contests is probably TrackingB, because winners and runners up land agents and managers, and the finalist judges are often development people who end up fighting over the winning screenplays. Where Nicholl and Austin just get you on Hollywood’s radar, TrackingB gets you in front of the buyers. The Younger Prince is Tracking Board’s Launch Pad, which is the direct competition to the TrackingB contest... Again finalists are read by people actually in the business who read and buy screenplays for a living, which means if you have a great screenplay this contest will launch your career.

In you win the Final Draft Big Break Contest, you can have a drink with me, since I’m at the big party where they announce the winner every year... along with screenwriters much more famous than I am (last year Max Landis was drinking with my group... so nobody really cared that I was there). So, maybe have a drink with all of the more famous people first.

Other good contests: PAGE, Scriptapalooza, SlamDance, ScriptPipeline, Sundance, BlueCat... and probably some that I’m forgetting, since I’m not a contest guy. Since I was a professional screenwriter before all of these contests began, I’ve been ineligible to enter them.

The thing to watch out for with small contests are the ones which are just money making schemes. Do your research! There have been some interesting scandals in the contest world, including one a few years ago where a small contest run by a script consultant had one of the contest readers admit that they didn’t read all of the screenplays... and I don’t mean they just read the first 10 or 20 pages of each screenplay (which isn’t unusual for first round on small contests, since you can usually tell a really bad screenplay after only a few pages of poorly written sentences), but there were some screenplays that they never read a single page! I discovered that another contest that is part of a small film festival had *no* “celebrity” judges and every screenplay was “read” by the person running the fest/contest and she pocketed all of the entry fees herself. I have no idea if she read all of the screenplays or even if she read any of them! It was all about her making money. The good news about fly-by-night contests like this is that the internet spreads the warnings, so usually all you have to do is Google some contest to find out whether it has had problems in the past. Always do your research!

Since I can’t enter contests, I write and send out spec scripts.


Spec screenplays are the most versatile choice (even the screenplays you enter in contests are specs, right?) because there are so many different ways that you can submit them. In addition to contests, you can submit them directly to production companies (after a query and a request) and to managers (again - query and request) and agents (query and request), plus there are many other ways specs can open a door for you. One thing to keep in mind: the reason why anyone will request your screenplay is that the *concept* sounds interesting. Mangers and Agents and Producers are *business people* who only earn money when a script sells or a writer lands a writing assignment. (Producers are last paid, so they need a screenplay or writer who can create something that gets made if they want to get paid.) Even managers and agents who may be looking for writers they can send out for assignments will be looking for specs with great concepts (unless the writer is one of the handful who wins a contest). The way an Agent or Manager introduces a writer to potential employers is through specs - and the way they get people to read specs screenplays is the same way *we* get people to read our spec screenplays: a killer logline or killer elevator pitch that’s all about the concept. If your concept is dull or mundane or something that doesn’t sound like something millions of people worldwide will be lining up tp pay to see, it will be difficult to get and Agent or Manager to request your screenplay... and then difficult for that Agent or Manager to get reads for you. Yes - there are exceptions. Nothing is an absolute in this business. But you may have noticed that everything in the world is cutting frills and focusing on profit, and Agents and Managers and Producers are no different. Even with referrals, someone is going to ask, “What’s it about?” and then it’s up to the concept to sell them.

This is the reason why there is so much focus on that concept, and why so many new writers fail by writing a script that’s based on a dull or mundane idea. I used to say that TV was the only place where Private Eye and Cop stories were wanted, but if you’ve watched TV of late you may have noticed that the trend for *weird* cops and detectives has gone to extremes - a zombie who eats the brains of victims to solve crimes? So, unless you plan on using the contest method make sure you begin with a great idea! One of these Film Courage Interviews has my “100 Idea Theory” - where you should come up with 100 great ideas and then select the best of them all to script. A well written screenplay with a bland idea is going to be tough to get reads with... and a terribly written script with a great idea isn’t going to get you very far, either! As I’ve said before - there is no “or” in screenwriting. If the question is: which is more important, concept or execution? the answer is: BOTH!

But spec screenplays can also *travel*, and I think that’s come up in one of these Film Courage segments. This is a business of referrals, and there are referrals you know about and ones that you don’t know about. If someone reads your screenplay and thinks it’s great and passes it to someone else in the industry (“You’ve gotta read this!”) that screenplay can travel all over town, from one person to another, and eventually land somewhere that matters. I’ve said before that a great spec script given to the *wrong person* or just left on the street in Beverly Hills has a pretty good chance of being discovered and landing you a gig. There are so few screenplays that get everything right that one which does will go places. People who complain about the gate keepers in Hollywood don’t understand that those gate keepers are *actively* looking for that great screenplay that will earn them points with the boss and further their careers. Everyone wants to be the one who discovered the next big thing!

That next big thing could be *you*!

Good luck and keep writing!

- Bill

Monday, March 21, 2016

Lancelot Link: Spring Has Sprung!

Lancelot Link Monday! This is the second day of Spring... which means giant blockbusters are just around the corner! Those big summer tentpoles! BATMAN vs SUPERMAN just premiered for press in New York City, and soon there will be leaks about whether it's good or bad or just is. If it flops, with all of those DC Comics characters in the film, what will Warner Brothers do? MATRIX 4? While you're thinking about that, here are this week's links to some great screenwriting and film articles, plus some fun stuff that may be of interest to you. Brought to you by that suave and sophisticated secret agent...

Here are a dozen links plus this week's car chase...

1) Weekend Box Office Estimates:
1 Zootopia........................ $38,042,000
2 Allegiant....................... $29,050,000
3 Miracles From Heaven............ $15,000,000
4 10 Cloverfield.................. $12,500,000
5 Deadpool......................... $8,000,000
6 London........................... $6,894,000
7 WTF?............................. $2,805,000
8 Perfect Match.................... $1,900,000
9 Brothers Grimms(by).............. $1,400,000
10 Revenant.......................... $1,225,000

Just a note: DEADPOOL has now made $340,941,383 in the USA alone on a budget of under $60m (making it one of the cheapest superhero comic book movies ever made). More than twice that when the rest of the world is factored in. It's one of the main reason this year's Box Office is shattering records - 10.1% ahead of last year, 15.9% ahead of 2014, 25.0% ahead of 2013, 9.1% ahead of 2012, and only 25.8% ahead of 2011. Yikes!

2) Max Landis (who thinks I'm funny) Just Sold A Spec For $3 Million To Netflix.

3) Joel Edgerton On MIDNIGHT SPECIAL.

4) Want To Go Indie? Prepare To Make 7 Features In ONE YEAR... Every Year.

5) Michael Mann Becomes Book Publisher - Announces HEAT Prequel & True Crime Film.

6) The Reality Of Screenwriting.

7) James Rollins' Novel MAP OF BONES Comes To The Big Screen.

8) Relativity Comes Out Of Bankruptcy - What Does This Mean

9) Want To Hear The Score To Ben Wheatley's HIGH RISE?

10) Black List's BUBBLES Becomes Stop Motion Film.

11) MIDNIGHT SPECIAL's Jeff Nichols on AQUAMAN and More!

12) The Talented Max Adams Picks 15 Screenwriting Books.

And the Car Chase Of The Week:

Well, cars and space ships!


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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Book Report:
How To Live The James Bond Lifestyle

From a few years back...

One of my oldest friend is Paul Kyriazi who gave me my very first film job on WEAPONS OF DEATH building a biker camp at the Black Diamond Mines and generally being a go-fer on set for a few days. I was a stupid teenaged film student at Diablo Valley Community College where Paul was a celebrity. He was making kung fu movies for drive ins, and shooting them right there in my home town! With big 35mm Panavision cameras! And dollies. And grip trucks. And big lights! And I got to help for no pay! I was the happiest guy in the world!

Later Paul called and hired me to write NINJA BUSTERS and my screenwriting career began... and then ended for a while.

Paul is still a friend - he lives out of the country, but when he’s in town we get together and go to a movie or something. I recently re-ran the blog entry about the autograph show in Burbank, and Paul co-starred in that. Over the Holidays I was in my home town and so was he (visiting family) and I got a call out of the blue asking if I wanted to go to dinner... I told Paul I’d just ordered at Taco Bell, and he said “I’ll be there in a minute” and then drove up, At that time I had just put up my Action Book on Kindle and Paul was curious about the process. Paul has retired from film (yeah, right) and has been doing these amazing audio book projects - which are really movies on CDs. He hires a bunch of famous actors from the 60s and 70s and each plays a role. Kind of like an old fashioned radio show. There are sound effects and everything. I’m in one of them called HARD ROCK NIGHTMARE.

But Paul also does seminars - and you may have seen him on TV or on the radio talking about them. He came up with a great twist on the self-help seminar, called HOW TO LIVE THE JAMES BOND LIFESTYLE. Basically, he’s taken some great life lessons and found examples that illustrate them from James Bond movies. Some of the lessons are self-help and positive thinking type things, some are relationship things, some are money management things - but the lessons that I really liked were the ones on very practical things to improve your life - like how to get your rental car upgraded automatically. Things that can really help you live that James Bond lifestyle. Paul has done the seminars all over the world and a few years ago when he decided to do an audio version... I was the director. The easiest job in the world when the voice talent has done the seminar a million times before in real life.

But a few months ago in that Taco Bell, Paul was talking to me about making the James Bond Lifestyle class as an e-book, and expanding it with even more lessons and advice - and a prologue by David Hedison who played Felix Leiter in two James Bond movies. And now he has done that.

Full disclosure - though I have bought a copy of the Kindle version, I have not read it yet. I *did* hear that audio version of the seminar a few years back (since I was in the recording room with the cans on) so my recommendation is based on that version - I’m sure the expanded e-book version is even better. I was hoping to have read it by now... but I’ve been busy!

- Bill

Monday, March 14, 2016

Lancelot Link: Spring Forward

Lancelot Link Monday! I must have been really drunk Saturday night because I blacked out for an hour! While you're thinking about that, here are this week's links to some great screenwriting and film articles, plus some fun stuff that may be of interest to you. Brought to you by that suave and sophisticated secret agent...

Here are ten links plus this week's car chase...

1) Weekend Box Office Estimates:
1 Zootopia........................ $50,000,000
2 10 Cloverfield Ln............... $25,200,000
3 Deadpool........................ $10,800,000
4 London Bridges.................. $10,668,000
5 WTF?............................. $4,600,000
6 Perfect Match.................... $4,150,000
7 Young Mess....................... $3,404,000
8 Bros Grimms...................... $3,150,000
9 Gods Of Egypt.................... $2,500,000
10 Risen............................ $2,250,000

2) Congratulations To Jamie Nash?

3) RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK story conference.

4) 10 Best Screenplay Contest (leaves off Final Draft Big Break - so make it 11).

5) Warner Bros Emerging Film Directors Contest.

6) A New Cinema In New York City.

7) Censorship And One Of The Most Famous Lines In USA Cinema.



10) 25 Action Movies Under 90 Minutes.

And the Car Chase Of The Week:

Because - O.J.


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Friday, March 11, 2016

Hitchcock: The Kuleshov Bikini

Originally I was going to rerun MARNIE with some rewriting to both expand the entry and focus on the similarities to FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, but I reran MARNIE a couple of months ago! So, you'll have to look at Hitch explaining Kuleshov using a babe in a bikini instead of a bowl of soup.

Hitchcock explaining the Kuleshov Experiment using a hot babe in a bikini:

But there is the rape/sex/honeymoon night scene from MARNIE to prepare you for FIFTY SHADES....

NOTE: When Mark and Marnie are in the outer room, check out the specific shots and how they tell the story. We begin with Mark at eye level as he looks at Marnie's shadow moving around in the bedroom. By showing Mark looking and then showing what Mark is looking at, we *become* Mark at this point.

But when Marnie enters the room, Mark is shown from a slightly low angle, making him superior to the audience... he becomes powerful (while sitting down and not really moving). He has become dominant... while Marnie is shown from a distance, making her distant and unattainable. Every *angle* and *movement* of the camera is part of telling the story the way words are when writing a screenplay. This is basic cinematic language, but something that some directors don't seem to speak these days.

Boning up?

Once Mark goes into the bedroom, we get a great shot with Mark on one side of the frame and Marnie on the other, separated from each other. They have a verbal battle, and at this point they seem to be evenly matched (according to the shot). But then the shot *moves* in on Mark's face. When a shot gets closer to the subject, they become more important... more powerful. So this shot begins with two evenly matched people on opposite sides of some issue and then turns one into the more powerful (and aggressive) one. That's where it gets all FIFTY SHADES OF GREY...

We get some shocking implied nudity... and Marnie seems to go catatonic. When Mark puts his coat around her, we get an interesting combination of shots: Mark and Marnie from an overhead (Mark is powerless to make her respond to his kisses) to a low angle (he's going to *take* the power) and that's when we get...

That great shot where Marnie seems to float into bed. This shot would be replicated by the Coen Brothers in BLOOD SIMPLE.

If you are going to direct, you have to speak the language!

And here's Hitch discussing MARINE...

- Bill

Click here for more info!


We all know that Alfred Hitchcock was the Master Of Suspense, but did you know he was the most *experimental* filmmaker in history?

Contained Thrillers like “Buried”? Serial Protagonists like “Place Beyond The Pines”? Multiple Connecting Stories like “Pulp Fiction”? Same Story Multiple Times like “Run, Lola, Run”? This book focuses on 18 of Hitchcock’s 53 films with wild cinema and story experiments which paved the way for modern films. Almost one hundred different experiments that you may think are recent cinema or story inventions... but some date back to Hitchcock’s *silent* films! We’ll examine these experiments and how they work. Great for film makers, screenwriters, film fans, producers and directors.

Films Examined: “Rear Window”, “Psycho”, “Family Plot”, “Topaz”, “Rope”, “The Wrong Man”, “Easy Virtue”, “Lifeboat”, “Bon Voyage”, “Aventure Malgache”, “Elstree Calling”, “Dial M for Murder”, “Stage Fright”, “Champagne”, “Spellbound”, “I Confess”, and “The Trouble with Harry”, with glances at “Vertigo” and several others.

Professional screenwriter William C. Martell takes you into the world of The Master Of Suspense and shows you the daring experiments that changed cinema. Over 77,000 words.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Book Report: Norbert Davis

From 5 years ago...

Input = output. One of the reasons why I'm a screenwriter is because I grew up watching movies and reading books. And I still do both. Though I usually mention what movies I've seen on the blog, I seldom mention what books I've been reading... and now I've decided to post about that every once in a while.

A while back I bought a Kindle, because it weighs less than a book, and I always have these danged books in my backpack weighing me down. Even though the Kindle itself costs $139, then you have to add books, Amazon tries to keep the Kindle book price down to $9.99 for most "hardback" titles, but the real deal for me was public domain books that you'd pay $3.99 or more for in paperback are usually free or 99 cents. WAR OF THE WORLDS - $7.99 paperback, FREE for Kindle. Since one of my little projects is searching for a kick ass PD novel to adapt into a screenplay, and due to some sort of mid-life nostalgia I am re-reading a bunch of the adventure and science fiction and fantasy books I read as a kid (most of which are now public domain), it made sense to buy a Kindle. I'm re-reading a bunch of great stuff... for free. Already, the Kindle has "paid for itself" if I had to buy those books in paperback. And my aching back also wins - no heavy books in the backpack.

I still buy some books in paper, and just bought Lawrence Block's great new novel A TOUCH OF THE HARD STUFF in hardback... and had him sign it. I'll probably write a review of that book next week, but I need to mention the book I'm reading now - Block's THE GIRL WITH THE LONG GREEN HEART. I have an ancient paperback somewhere on the shelf, and would have stuck it in the backpack, except...

The other good thing about the Kindle and other e-readers is that sometimes books go on a limited time sale, and LONG GREEN is on sale until the 15th for only 99 cents (back in 2011). Having just paid $25 for Block's new book, under a buck is a no brainer deal. I bought it and am now reading it on the Kindle when I'm stuck in line at the post office or taking a break from the laptop.

Block writes several series: Bernie the Burglar, Matt Scudder the alcoholic detective, the new Hit Man series, swinging 70's spy Evan Tanner, and some sleazy books about Chip Harrison who is not a virgin by choice. THE GIRL WITH THE LONG GREEN HEART is a stand alone noir title about a con man pulling the ultimate scam, and the woman who screws it all up. If you like THE GRIFTERS, check it out! (PS: Also check out his new noir novel, GIRL WITH THE DEEP BLUE EYES.)

Some other stuff I've been reading: the Norbert Davis Carstairs & Doan mysteries. Who? you say? Well, Norbert Davis was one of those Black Mask pulp writers in the 30s and 40s who specialized in funny mysteries - hey, that's exactly what I like to read! He had a few different series in the pulps (at a penny a word, you had to write for different magazines and have stories in a bunch of them every month just to pay the rent) - Max Latin, Private Eye was the series where I first discovered Davis, and when I hit my local public library when I was in High School I found the Carstairs & Doan books - 4 of them. They had been out of print forever, and it took me a while to track them down in the library system. These things are collector's items now, and you couldn't afford to buy them...

Except they're public domain, so you can get them for 99 cents each!

HOLOCAUST HOUSE is the first book in the series. The series is about pudgy smart ass private eye Doan (think Paul Giamatti) who wins a pure breed Great Dane (Carstairs) in a poker game. Carstairs is snobby, aloof, and more intelligent than any human. He is Doan's master (not the other way around) and insists on eating steak while Doan eats hamburgers. But the great thing about this odd couple of detectives is that Carstairs is the brains (often solving the cases) and Doan is the brawn (he may be pudgy, but he can fight and is great with a gun). In the first book, Carstairs is mostly off screen as Doan is sent to guard a young woman who is about to inherit millions... and seems to have no shortage of enemies. In a secluded ski lodge Doan must figure out who among the staff is really a killer. One of the great things about these books is that they are funny and breezy... and VIOLENT. Kind of a screw ball comedy directed by Sam Peckinpah.

MOUSE IN THE MOUNTAIN - this was the first of the books I read back in High School, and it's the first one where Carstairs is more than just a funny prop - he's an equal partner in the story. The two are traveling to a secluded village in Mexico on some sort of secret business involving a mobster in hiding. But after an earthquake brings much of the village tumbling to the ground and takes out the only road in or out, people begin to get bumped off. Among the suspects are an heiress, her secretary, an ex-pat artist, a revolutionary, some military guys, and a strange hotel owner (both the hotel and the owner are strange). There's a secret treasure and all kinds of other fun stuff - and Carstairs figures out who the killer is long before Doan does. This book was a lot of fun.

SALLY'S IN THE ALLEY - probably the best of the four books. During World War 2, Carstairs has become a movie star and Doan is the guy who doesn't get invited to the premieres... but does get invited by the FBI to become a Japanese spy, even though he doesn't look the least bit Asian. Seems there's a crazy prospector who has discovered enough Uranium to make a whole bunch of atom bombs, and because he hates the USA for stealing his land to make Hoover Dam, wants to sell the Uranium to the Japanese or the Germans. Carstairs and Doan go undercover as Japanese spies, and get mixed up in all kinds of wild action (including a massive flash flood - these books all have a natural disaster element) - and along with German Spies and small town cops and cowboys and Indians, there's America's #1 movie star Susan Sally and her pushy Agent, plus a guy named Blue who has a secret past and a young woman who will believe almost anything Doan tells her.

OH MURDERER MINE - If SALLY is the best in the series, this is the worst... but still lots of fun. Less of a mystery and more of a satire about college life, Carstairs and Doan are acting as bodyguards for a faculty member for reasons which aren't revealed until late in the book. One of the strange things with this book is that it begins with a professor, Melissa Gregory, instead of Carstairs and Doan, and for a while you wonder if you're reading the wrong book. The rest of the faculty are a bunch of nut-jobs who make the cast of a Coen Brothers movie look normal and bland. Once again, Carstairs is the brains of the operation and figures out the case long before Doan.

Norbert Davis never wrote any more books in the series because he committed suicide at age 40!

One of the great things about e-books is that Davis' books are available at a low price - no cost for printing and binding. I would love to see a collection of the Max Latin stories and Bail Bond Dodd stories... plus all of his pulp short stories. So, that's what I've been reading.

PS: As I said - there are a bunch of public domain titles that are FREE, and you may even find the Carstairs & Doan books somewhere for free... just not on Amazon right now. I did find the Edgar Rice Burroughs Mars books for free, and the Sherlock Holmes books, and many others for free.

- Bill

TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: Global Screenwriting - 70% of your audience does not live in the United States, probably doesn't speak English, and really doesn't care about baseball statistics.
Dinner: That grungy Pollo Loco in NoHo.
Pages: Cold still hanging in there, so all of the work on the script I was going to do today did not get done. Other things that require less brain work *did* get done, so it wasn't a wasted day.
Bicycle: Short bike ride, just to keep the blood flowing.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Lancelot Link: I Did Not Win An Oscar!

Lancelot Link Monday! A week after the Oscars... and we've run out of Movie Awards Shows. How will we possible survive? But, Summer is around the corner, with superheroes and big tentpole movies. This is the calm before the storm... or is it? Take a look at this week's box office - isn't Hollywood All Summer All The Time? While you're thinking about that, here are this week's links to some great screenwriting and film articles, plus some fun stuff that may be of interest to you. Brought to you by that suave and sophisticated secret agent...

Here are a dozen links plus this week's car chase...

1) Weekend Box Office Estimates:
1 Zootopia........................ $73,700,000
2 London Has Fallen............... $21,714,000
3 Deadpool........................ $16,400,000
4 WTF?............................. $7,600,000
5 Bods Of Egypt.................... $5,000,000
6 Risen............................ $3,885,000
7 KFP 3............................ $3,525,000
8 Revenant......................... $3,325,000
9 Eddie The Eagle.................. $3,100,000
10 The Witch........................ $2,509,453

ZOOTOPIA is now the record holder for non sequel animated openings. Meanwhile, in China, MERMAID hits $500m!

2) Too Many Tentpoles?

3) SANDMAN News: Eric Heisserer scripting, Joseph Gordon Levitt NOT Starring.

4) How The Coen Brothers Dealt With Writers Block.

5) What's Under The Columbia Pictures Woman's Dress For 2017?

6) VENOM Movie? Yes.

7) Jack Fisk on Terrence Malick (and KNIGHT OF CUPS)

8) Austin Honors Texas Filmmakers.

9) Keanu Prepares For JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2.

10) An *Actual* DEATH WISH Remake... With Willis. Why not make some of Garfield's other novels?

11) TOMB RAIDER Reboot.

12) HIGH RISE - Red Band Trailer & Director Interviews.

And the Car Chase Of The Week:


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