October 2017 Box Office Returned to the Year’s Downward Trend

After September delivered record numbers, the month of October saw the 2017 box office return to its downward trend, delivering calendar grosses down 15.6% compared to last year, falling below $ 600 million for the first time in ten years. Perhaps most startling is that with 287 films in release, the average per film was just $ 1.9 million, making it the first time that average has ever fallen below $ 2.1 million for any individual month based on BoxOfficeMojo’s records going back to 1982. Th…
Box Office Mojo – Top Stories

Script To Screen: “12 Years a Slave”

From the 2013 movie 12 Years a Slave, screenplay by John Ridley, based on a memoir by Solomon Northup.

Plot summary: In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.

Setup: Some time later, slave owner Epps (Michael Fassbender) dispatches Solomon (Chiwetel Ejiofor) to a nearby plantation owned by Shaw. Shaw has married one of his slaves and elevated her status (at least on his plantation). Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o) is there for a visit, enjoying the finery, but apparently Epps is jealous that Shaw might attempt to bed her. After a brief refreshment, Solomon convinces Patsey to join him. As they return to Epps’ plantation, he is clearly drunk.

Here is the scene excerpt from the script:

Pats…! Patsey!

Do not look in his direction.

Epps does not care to be ignored. He lifts himself and
moves toward the pair in a rage.


Solomon moves between Epps and Patsey, cutting Epps off
as Patsey continues on. Playing up his “ignorance” of
the situation:

Found her, Master, and brought her
back just as instructed.

What’d you jus now tell her?
What’d you say to Pats?

No words were spoken. None of

Lie! Damned liar! Saw you
talkin’ with ‘er. Tell me!

I cannot speak of what did not

Epps grabs Solomon.

I’ll cut your black throat.

Solomon pulls away from Epps, RIPPING HIS SHIRT IN THE
PROCESS. Epps gives chase. Solomon begins to run around
the large pig sty, easily keeping his distance. Epps,
however is undeterred. He moves after Solomon as
speedily as he can, which isn’t very speedily at all.
And quickly he tires. Epps is forced to bend over and
suck air. Solomon maintains his distance, barely
breathing hard. His breath returned to him, Epps starts
up the chase again. Solomon runs on out of reach.
Shortly, Epps again stops, gets his breath… And now in
what should be quite comical, Epps again runs after
Solomon. Again, Epps’s vigor leaves him before he can
even get close to the slave.

Here is the scene from the movie:

A few things:

  • During the ‘chase,’ there is some additional dialogue: Solomon insisting, “I brought her back just as instructed” and Epps saying, “Stay away from Patsey, boy.”
  • The scene continues on with Epps confessing his depraved drunken state (“liquor filled me… I’m all done in”) and screenwriter Ridley notes this in scene description: “ALL OF THE PRECEDING SHOULD BE MORE FUNNY THAN SHOCKING. A CHANGE OF PACE FROM THE OTHERWISE NECESSARY BLEAKNESS OF SLAVE LIFE.”

But the main thing I’d like to note is the Narrative Voice at work here. There is a kind of formality to the language used in the scene description. For example:

  • “Epps does not care to be ignored”
  • “Playing up his “ignorance” of the situation”
  • “Epps gives chase”
  • “And quickly he tires”
  • “Solomon maintains his distance”

I would take this to be the writer’s attempt to reflect the sensibilities of the time, perhaps even echo the way Northup wrote in his memoir. In any event, this serves as a reminder that we need to be conscious of and take an active role in figuring out how the style of our scene description matches up with the genre and tone of the story we’re writing. No two Narrative Voices will be the same. They vary from story to story.

Finally there is the supposed screenwriting ‘rule’: Action Paragraphs — 3 Lines Max.

The script for 12 Years a Slave is filled with long blocks of scene description like the one featured here which is 13 lines long.

Is it wise to write a spec script with 13 line long paragraphs of scene description? Probably not. But 12 Years a Slave did win an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

So once again, ‘rule’ broken.

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

For other Script to Screen articles, go here.

Comment Archive

Script To Screen: “12 Years a Slave” was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story – Medium

This Week In Trailers: The Florida Project, Zero Weeks, 100 Years of Olympic Films, Wexford Plaza, Quest, A$$holes

Green Band Trailer

Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising?

This week I ask you to support The Florida Project, watch people who are much more fit, skilled, and talented than I’ll ever be, wonder where we went left when it comes to parental leave, follow a real life slice of life drama, revisit a fascinating slice of life drama, and get in with some pervs who have a very specific fetish. 

The Florida Project Featurette

I’m going to assume there’s at least 10 of you reading this right now. To those 10 people I am asking you to either buy a ticket to see this movie or buy a ticket to see this movie to support something that is genuinely precious. I have not been so affected by performances, across the board, as I have with this movie and so as this movie looks to catch fire I’m hoping this is a little bit of burning tinder to help the cause. I hate/loathe hyping any movie as I know someone will see it and not agree but I want to do my part to get the word out about Sean Baker’s latest opus that honestly delivers.

100 Years of Olympic Films Trailer

The only physical media that I own that focuses solely on the Olympics is Criterion’s 1965’s Tokyo Olympiad. The documentary itself is a bit of a revelation as it captures the genuine physicality of competing in these games with being incredibly cinematic by capturing the moment in an honest way, not prepackaged and edited as we get now with NBC’s version of what an Olympics should look like. The package here is an impressive one and as it just feels and looks epic. I mean, it’s incredible how they manage to sell the idea that, yes, these are sports but, more than that, there’s the very real sense that you have people who are pushing their body to the limits whether they’re pole vaulting or ice skating. Just a fantastic testament to what should be an honorable event.

Wexford Plaza Trailer

Something worth seeing, I hope.

I talked about director Joyce Wong’s movie earlier this year when the first trailer dropped but after seeing this I’m even more convinced that this is the kind of movie that could serve as a gentle digestif to the virulence that is plaguing our everyday lives as of late. Movies help to act like an escape and no other escape looks as inviting as this story right now. It feels genuinely tiny, with characters who suffer from being less than perfect, and completely contained in this compact world. The trailer glides on its charm, its judicious use of pull-quotes, and simply being overall appealing.

Quest Trailer

Long shoots.

One thing I admire about the length some filmmakers take in shooting their movies like Michael Winterbottom’s Everyday and Linklater ‘s Boyhood is seeing just how it affects the narrative when you put so much time between shooting. In a fictional world you can keep the course and make sure where you end up is where you intended to but in a non-fiction world life isn’t as kind. Someone like director Jonathan Olshefski who shot this documentary over 10 years was bound to end up in a different place than where he started. To me, that’s exciting, as it’s not knowing what lies beyond that next phone call, that next birthday, and with this subject matter and focus it looks like we’ve got something and someone to not only follow but root for as they navigate a social environment that grows needlessly more treacherous.

Zero Weeks Trailer

Question for the group: Do any of you work full-time and, follow-up, what’s your time-off expectation when you have a kid? If you’re like a lot of people, you’ll be like me, in the hospital on a Thursday afternoon and expected to be back on Friday to finish the payroll.

Yup, many more of you have it all figured out in using your vacation/sick days or work for an enlightened employer who benevolently allows you a week or two at no cost. I didn’t have that luxury with my second child and this trailer sucker punched me hard. Ky Dickens comes right out of the gate swinging and with good reason. These are the kinds of situations people find themselves in every single day and even though there is an obvious bias for there being something for all people to help care and tend to their progeny it doesn’t make the argument any less true. The narratives that flow from this trailer should be enough for anyone to empathize with the plight many are struggling with but it’s only through constantly reminding those who haven’t been affected, or yet been affected, will there be any meaningful change.

And for those of you without kids, never planning on having kids, way too young to even think about kids, or you have a phenomenal job in place I imagine you’ll pass right by this trailer but keep this trailer in mind should you ever hear of someone close to you having a child on a Friday and needing to be back at work on a Monday.

A$ $ holes Trailer (NSFW)

This is the cinematic equivalent of getting a face tattoo.

Sure, no one is going to stop you from trying to earn a living but there might be some who are skittish about wanting you to serve the general public. That said, I’m completely behind director Peter Vack’s completely gonzo vision. It’s absolutely original in telling a story about these very different individuals and I don’t even think I have enough insight into what is actually happening before my eyes to draw any complete picture of what is going on. I’m not sure I really want to know what has brought us here with this story but, for sure, there wasn’t any distraction out there wild enough that could have made me look away. I just could not look away. Side note: I once used the word “scatological” to someone, at someone, who I was meaning to say could “riff” extemporaneously real well, improv through their use of the written word. You know, like scat and jazz. I failed to use that word properly then and I apologize. However, I am now using that word, properly, to describe the experience of sitting through this trailer.

Nota bene: If you have any suggestions of trailers to possibly be included in this column, even have a trailer of your own to pitch, please let me know by sending me a note at Christopher_Stipp@yahoo.com or look me up via Twitter at @Stipp

In case you missed them, here are the other trailers we covered at /Film this week:

The post This Week In Trailers: The Florida Project, Zero Weeks, 100 Years of Olympic Films, Wexford Plaza, Quest, A$ $ holes appeared first on /Film.


Cheers to the first five years of blcklst.com!

An impressive overview of Black List accomplishments.

Full house for a Black List Live! script reading

From Kate Hagen, Director of Community at @theblcklst:

Today, we’re celebrating the fifth anniversary of blcklst.com, which launched on October 15, 2012!

Seven feature films have been produced from scripts discovered on blcklst.com since our launch five years ago: NIGHTINGALE (written by Frederick Mensch); ZINZANA (aka RATTLE THE CAGE, by Lane and Ruckus Skye); SHOVEL BUDDIES (by Jason Hellerman); EDDIE THE EAGLE (by Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton); KATIE SAYS GOODBYE (by Wayne Roberts); PSYCHOANALYSIS (by James Raue); and DESOLATION (by Matt Anderson and Michael Larson-Kangas.)

Countless writers have found representation, had their scripts sold or optioned, or made further advancements to their professional careers via site interactions — read our series of screenwriter interviews for the stories of these writers in their own words.

Since October 2012, we’ve partnered with organizations including the WGA-W, the WGA-E, The Sloan Foundation, The Sundance Institute, Women in Film, UrbanWorld, Indigenous Media, and more, in addition to collegiate partnerships with schools like New York University, Columbia University, UCLA, and Chapman University.

Screenwriters have been able to submit their scripts for consideration in opportunities with Warner Bros., Disney, the NFL, Google, Women in Film, go90, FOX, Turner/TBS, WIGS, Studiocanal/The Picture Company, Symbolic Exchange, Cassian Elwes, and more. Additionally, annual screenwriters labs have been held by The Black List to provide mentorship and development for writers using blcklst.com since 2013 — the fifth installment of the Black List Lab for Feature Screenwriters featured mentors Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith, Phyllis Nagy, Allison Schroeder, and more.

There’s a lot more which you can read by going here. I’m kinda partial to this:

Since September 2011, Scott Myers’ Go Into the Story has been the official screenwriting blog of the Black List — Scott has posted for 3436 consecutive days and counting, with over 23,000 posts total!

One super cool thing: You can go here to see a timeline of everything Black List related since the debut of the annual list in 2005. Some amazing accomplishments.

Congrats, Black List!

Cheers to the first five years of blcklst.com! was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story – Medium

Sitges Review: Joachim Trier’s ‘Thelma’ is One of the Year’s Best Films

Thelma Review

The power of love. It’s such a relief to watch a film and discover it’s truly as wonderful as everyone has been saying. Joachim Trier’s Thelma has been getting rave reviews ever since premiering at the Toronto Film Festival and Fantastic Fest (Jeremy wrote a glowing review already). I caught up with the film at the Sitges Film Festival and it’s now one of my favorite films of the year, a wonderfully exhilarating, gripping sexual awakening story. Joachim Trier is a very talented Norwegian filmmaker who has already made a name for himself with the films Oslo August 31st and Louder Than Bombs, but continues to get even better with each new film he makes. Thelma is his finest work yet, one of the year’s best that is worth your time to discover. ›››

Continue reading Sitges Review: Joachim Trier’s ‘Thelma’ is One of the Year’s Best Films


Theme Park Bits: ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ Ride Concept, ‘Star Wars’ Galactic Nights, 35 Years at Tokyo Disneyland


In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • See what a Nightmare Before Christmas ride might have looked like, as envisioned by one Imagineer
  • Cars characters get into the Halloween spirit by dressing up at Disney’s California Adventure
  • The Star Wars: Galactic Nights event is returning to Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • Get details on how Universal Studios and Legoland are incorporating VR worldwide
  • The parent company of Louis Vuitton is bringing a steampunk theme park to Paris
  • Details for Tokyo Disneyland’s 35th-anniversary celebration have been announced
  • And more!

First, a few follow-ups from last week. In case you were not already sold on visiting Disney’s California Adventure for Halloween (and c’mon, you should be, even NASA scientists have turned out), Disney Parks Blog has shared some nifty photos of the Cars characters in costume. On Twitter, they also posted a pic of the Haunted Mansion Holiday gingerbread house at Disneyland Park.


Fans of this seasonal version of the ride, based on Tim Burton’s 1993 stop-motion musical, might get a kick out of seeing old concept art for a Nightmare Before Christmas attraction that never came to be. The design above comes by way of Disney Imagineer Christopher Merritt. Disney and More has some additional illustrations posted.

In another life, perhaps, we could have had coffin ride vehicles. Alas, parkgoers in Anaheim will just have to make due with the sight of grim grinning ghosts. Or they can always bask in the return glow of a new and improved Fantasmic!which still boasts the best black dragon of any show by that name.


Over on the East Coast, meanwhile, the Walt Disney Presents gallery has now opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The full model for next summer’s Toy Story Land is on display. Inside the Magic also has video of some concept art for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, as well as the first available part of the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge model.

On December 16, the day after Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters, Hollywood Studios will be hosting a sequel of its own for Star Wars: Galactic Nights. This special, one-night-only event, which requires a separate admission ticket, will allow fans to don costumes and enter the park — on a red carpet, no less — for an epic Star-Wars-themed party.


In addition to the regular Star Wars attractions on offer at Hollywood Studios, there will be an interview with one of the stars of the franchise, as well as a panel discussion on the future of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. And get this: there will be Ewoks on hand, and a DJ, meaning the whole thing could theoretically dissolve into a teddy bear luau like at the end of Return of the Jedi.

Star Wars fans, this is your chance to celebrate the love (yub, yub)! Galactic Nights lasts from 7:00 p.m. to midnight. You can find more information about it on StarWars.com. Tickets are available on the Disney World website.

Continue Reading Theme Park Bits >>

The post Theme Park Bits: ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ Ride Concept, ‘Star Wars’ Galactic Nights, 35 Years at Tokyo Disneyland appeared first on /Film.


‘Unforgiven’ 25 Years Later: 5 Ways Eastwood Masterfully Deconstructed the Western

“The script’s not playing with the tropes as much as lighting them on fire and watching them burn away.”

Twenty-five years ago, in August 1992, Clint Eastwood unveiled his classic western Unforgiven. The film has held up as one of the best of its genre, mainly due to its ability to take the tropes of the western and flip them all on their heads. Instead of giving audiences a hero to cheer, the film holds up a mirror to reflect their horror when the killings they usually root for in a western come to bear. Critics adored the film, which went on to win Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director for Eastwood, Best Editing for Joel Cox, and Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Gene Hackman’s brilliant turn as sadistic Little Bill Daggett.

Unforgiven takes the tropes of the western and flips them all on their heads.

Read More

No Film School

Summer 2017 Closes Out with the Worst Labor Day Weekend in 17 Years

Thanks to some stronger-than-expected performances, this weekend ended up better than Mojo’s forecast and yet, this is still the worst three-day Labor Day weekend in twelve years. The top twelve grossed a combined $ 51.5 million and you have to go back to 2000, when the top twelve grossed a combined $ 47 million, to find a worse performance. That said, both The Hitman’s Bodyguard and Annabelle: Creation delivered strong performances to top the weekend. In fact, only four films in the top…
Box Office Mojo – Top Stories

Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” will have the Widest 70mm Release in 25 Years

Christopher Nolan’s new film Dunkirk is being projected on 70mm film in 125 theaters. That makes it the widest 70mm release in 25 years. Here is an infographic comparing both the film and digital formats. “Dunkirk” opens in theaters nationwide July 21. Here’s a rundown of every theater screening the movie on 70mm. ALABAMA IMAX […]

The post Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” will have the Widest 70mm Release in 25 Years appeared first on FilmmakerIQ.com.


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