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Ally McBeal: The Movie by Kevin J. Johnson - Comedy - Ally is living in New York, working at Crane, Pool and Schmidt, and feeling lonely. She gets a case involving a gay singer seeking a divorce which brings her back to Boston, and pits her against her old firm--Cage, Fish and Porter. Ally's old firm is also representing a man who is suing a male enhancement product. 184 pages - pdf, format
You also realise that you don't own the rights to these characters so you wouldn't be able to sell this script, right?
EDIT: So I opened this up to take a peek, and it just gets worse. You have a proposed cast list, again, WTF? Have you ever seen this in a screenplay before? What makes you think your role as screenwriter involves being the casting director also? There are so many mistakes in here it isn't funny. You really need to read some screenplays and figure out basic format and structure, and if you want to write a comedy feature try to aim for the 100 page mark instead of closer to 200.
I read the first few pages because I was a big Ally McBeal fan. I agree with most of what Tim; I have no problem with fan fic.
What I thought was (unintentionally) funny was her walking montage on page one (of the script. You have her walk past the Empire State Building (on 34th Street) to Wall Street (lower Manhattan) to Times Square (42nd Street) to Ground Zero (lower Manhattan). This is about thirteen or fourteen miles of walking.
If you want to show that your script takes place in NYC, one of these landmarks would be enough. What you did was show us that you're not from NYC and you overdid it by showing us to much NYC in the first page of the script.
Tim, To answer your question, no, I hadn't read a screenplay before writing this. My background is in English. I'm more familiar with plays, and plays always have a cast list. I/we included the proposed cast because we wanted to indicate that we don't want a new cast. It is just a proposed cast, but you are right, we shouldn't have included names of specific actors and actresses. We decided to write this (first just for fun) because we are fans of the show and wanted a movie to tie things up. We were hoping the show's creator/writer David E. Kelley would write one. When it became clear he wasn't about to, we decided to do it. As I said, it was just for fun at first, but the more we worked on it the more we became invested in it and decided why not try and get it made. We realize there's probably a slim to none chance of this happening, but why not try? As for the mistakes you mention, could you be more specific? Maybe we can change them. Oh, and the reason the script is so long is because it's two parts. I actually wanted it over 200 pages, but my co-writer forced me to chop it down.
Phil, Yeah, probably should have looked over a map of Manhattan a little more closely before writing this, but it wasn't meant to be taken that literally.
It is hard to just tell you all the mistakes that are in here when you have not read a screenplay before and therefore don't know how they should look. I mean if you are serious about trying to get this made, don't you think it would be a good idea to research how they are supposed to look? But there are a lot of mistakes, read some scripts and you should get the hang of it. For example, in your scene headings you need to include whether it is a day or a night shot.
In your first paragraph you have Allie showering, dressing, brushing her hair and her teeth. How long does it take for someone to do all that? I'd say you're looking at around the thirty minute mark. Are we supposed to sit there for thirty minutes watching all this take place? What I'm getting at is that a screenplay is a direct blueprint for what we see on the screen. If you want to imply she does all these things you need to learn proper scene headings and time cuts to show this.
You can't say that something in your screenplay 'isn't supposed to be taken literally'. If it is in your screenplay, then it is a direction for what is happening on screen. If it shouldn't be there then take it out.
I don't know what you mean about this being two parts. How is that supposed to work? Does the movie finish abruptly half way through and the audience get told that part one is over, come back next week for part two? There is no such thing as a two part movie. If you want to have a sequel, fine, write a sequel. But you really need to cut this down to 120 pages at the most.
It's great that you are enthusiastic about this and want to get it made, but how do you plan to do that? You can't sell a script that contains characters that you don't own the rights to. For that reason you could never get this made. You can use it as a writing sample but that's about all.
Well, Kill Bill Vol. 1 ended before the story was done. Thus the need for Kill Bill Vol. 2. Also, the Matrix: Reloaded ended before anything was concluded. Though I kind of wish they hadn't made another one. Anyway, we were thinking that perhaps our script could be a TV special if not a feature film. So, it could be stretched out over two nights. All pie in the sky stuff, we know, but since no one involved in the show appears to be doing anything...Anyway, thanks for your comments. They've been helpful. I'll work on the script and I will check out the formats.
Also, I don't know how much of an expert you are on the industry, but what if we were somehow able to purchase the rights to the show. I have contacts with some pretty rich people and perhaps they could be convinced to invest in such a project. Do you have any idea what that might entail? I'm sure it would cost in the tens of millions of dollars. Then we'd have to get agreements from a film company and hopefully the same people who worked on the show. I'm sure it'd be very complicated and exceedingly expensive, but can you give me some idea? Thanks in advance.
Also, I don't know how much of an expert you are on the industry, but what if we were somehow able to purchase the rights to the show. I have contacts with some pretty rich people and perhaps they could be convinced to invest in such a project. Do you have any idea what that might entail? I'm sure it would cost in the tens of millions of dollars. Then we'd have to get agreements from a film company and hopefully the same people who worked on the show. I'm sure it'd be very complicated and exceedingly expensive, but can you give me some idea?
Think about what you're asking investors to do: (a) spends 10s of millions of dollars to purchase the rights to a TV show that to the best of my knowledge doesn't air in reruns on any channel of note, (b) invest more money, likely upwards of 20 million, in a big-budget NY-based (read: SAG union shoot) film that you have no leeway with in casting.
So when your investors are finally done with paying for post-production marketing and advertising, they'll likely be $35-40MM in. Do you have a business plan that tells them how they're going to recoup this money and make a profit?
This is the reason Tim is telling you that this is nothing but a writing sample. Here's some free advice - if you know some rich people, then write an original script, get a line producer to put together a budget, hire an entertainment attorney to do a business plan/package (some will work for a low front-end fee with a promise of points) and then present the information to the people you know.
Yes, it would cost a lot of money. But let's say it was successful. The Sex and the City movie, which appeals to a similar demographic (but had a smaller audience) earned over 400 million dollars. Let's say an Ally movie does only half that well, which is a very conservative estimate. With 200 million gross there would be plenty there to recoup the investors, and even enough to give them a nice return. Also, the way the series ended sort of screams for a movie. The firing of Robert Downey Jr. forced David E. Kelley to rewrite the ending. We got a pretty lame fifth season instead of the ending that Kelley had intended. Fans of the show long for the proper ending. Our script would give them that.
It's not like this would be the first time someone else has taken over another series and made it their own. Granted, I don't know that it's been done by an outsider to the industry, but it's not without precedent.
I realize I have a lot to learn, but it seems like everyone here is thinking too small. We've written a script. It's a good script. It's based on a popular show. It seems like something that has a good chance of being not only a safe investment, but a successful one. Instead of everyone saying, "no, no, no" how about some creative ideas on how we might succeed? Anyone got any?
Mate, you are obviously very passionate about this, but you also need to be realistic. It seems you are seriously over-estimating the popularity of the show and the number of people who would want to see this movie. I don't know where you are getting the idea that the audience for Sex and the City was smaller than Ally McBeal, that's really not true. SATC had a massive audience worldwide and the movie(s) came out not too long after the show wrapped up. Ally finished nearly ten years ago, so by the time this were to get made and be show in the cinema you're going to be looking at close to a fifteen year gap from when the show ended.
You're also going to have to get all the original cast back, many of whom are involved in other projects or just may not be interested. I actually think AJR's figure of around $40m or so is pretty conservative, by the time you pay for the rights to the show, the actors, making the actual film and a marketing campaign. And I think your estimate of making $200m is seriously inflated. Where did you get this number from? Most films don't make anywhere near this amount. The reality is not enough people care about this show for it to be a huge success as a film.
If they were going to make this film, they would have made it by now. They would have hired a professional screenwriter to write the script. You say that you have a good script, but it's really not. How do I know that? Because it's 184 pages and you've admitted you've never read a screenplay before. It's formatted incorrectly and has mistakes in the first few pages. It's not a good script, and you're not going to write a good script until you have read many, many scripts and understand how they work.
I'm not trying to rain on your parade here but you just seem kind of delusional that you have a shot of pulling this off. You don't. Who are you going to approach with this? Have you got a business plan? Have you done any research at all? All I'm saying is that your chances of getting a film made that you own the rights to are extremely slim. When you don't even own the rights to your story it becomes so much more difficult. And you have no experience. In the current economy who is going to invest tens and tens of millions of dollars to bring a mediocre show to the big screen, written by a writer who has never read a screenplay and who doesn't own the rights to his story? It just isn't feasible.
If you are going to persist with it then go see an entertainment attorney who specialises in this sort of thing. They'll charge you a lot of money to give you pretty much the same advice you'll get for free on here ie. it's not going to happen.
You're right, I do need to read some of the other scripts on here. But I disagree that David E. Kelley necessarily has to write an Ally McBeal movie. Yes, I would love it if he would. Before we wrote ours, we wrote many many messages on the Ally McBeal IMDb site pleading for him to do so. We wrote messages on his IMDb site. I got a IMDb Pro account so we could contact him. I talked to people at his production company. There doesn't seem to be anything happening there. In the past, however, some of Kelley's work has been expanded upon by other writers. The final season of "Picket Fences" was written entirely by other writers, though (to be fair) I have to admit I didn't like it very much. Lake Placid 2 was written by other writers, though Kelley wrote the original. Kelley has a team of writers that work with him on his programs, some of whom have written entire episodes. Whatsmore, Kelley himself purchased the rights to "Life on Mars," before turning around and selling them back to ABC.
Other writers have taken over other franchises. Look at the "Star Trek" movie last year. Were those the original writers? I think not. I hesitate to bring this up because I'm not nearly in the same league, but James Cameron has been pretty successful taking over the Alien and Terminator series. It happens a lot. I read that Dane Cook had some interest in making a "Moonlighting" movie. I hope he doesn't (especially since Paris Hilton was supposed to be the female lead) but there's another example.
Even so, if this should ever come to pass we would definitely want Mr. Kelley's consent, and hopefully his input. We wouldn't want an Ally movie made without him involved, or without the original cast and crew. I'd be willing to sign a waiver relinquishing all rights if Mr. Kelley would just read our script, but it doesn't seem like that is even possible.
Doesn't anyone have any creative ideas on what we could try?
Fanfic is not a popular genre in Hollywood. The examples that you listed above were not brought about by outsiders but by studios, picking studio writers to write them. Do you think you're the only one to think, "Now is the time for an Ally McBeal movie?" I'm sure the powers-that-be get these scripts all the time from fans who want to see Ally one more time.
I don't think that anyone, here, can help you get this produced. We're all trying to get our own work out there. I think you'll just be banging your head into a wall by pursuing it. But if you are going to pursue it, learn formatting and cut this script by a third.
You are absolutely correct - my figures are way conservative. I just wanted to show him that knowing rich people is not enough. $40MM is almost impossible to raise privately, and yes, it's likely that he's writing a $60-$80MM film instead of a $20MM one.
The issue here juviejay is that you're thinking WAY too big for your current status (no offense).
I have a script with a director and 10 actors attached - not exactly huge name talent but you'd know the things these people have been in - and I have a production company who just told me that they do not have investors who will gamble on a first time director (which mine is) and a first time writer/producer (me).