Sunday, January 31, 2010

QUESTION: Comedies Not For the 18-25s

Deb S., a smart cookie who reads my blog, asks, "Do you think writers should aim totally for the crucial 18-25 year old movie-tickets-purchasing-male demographic when pitching a comedic script?"

Answer: No.

But beware of these facts:

1. You must understand WHY the 18-25 y.o. male demo is such a lure for studios:

a) They have more disposable income;
b) They have more time, are willing to go to the theaters to support films they like;
c) They are repeat customers for the same film.

2. If you're going to write comedies for another audience, then you must be smart about crafting your script.

a) Your comedy must appeal to at least two quadrants.

ex. The Blind Side (though not a comedy) drew in two unusual audiences: older women and football loving males. These are not the the usual quadrants, but it worked liked gangbusters. This $29M film has grossed $237M+ in 10 weeks. Not many films get 10 weeks in the theaters these days, so this shows this film's popularity & staying power.

b) Your comedy must stir a "feel good feeling" to get people excited to see it in theaters.

OK, I know this sounds obvious, you'd be surprised how many writers forget people go to the movies to ESCAPE, i.e., they DEMAND a happy ending.

ex. Mamma Mia! got some bad reviews, but the one thing that everyone agreed on was that it was joyful & fun...& translated into a huge success.

c) Your comedy must make money (so you can write more comedies).

I don't think writers quite understand what a flop does. It drives the risk adverse money men back to something that's safe, i.e., movies for the 18-25 y.o. demo. It also makes it harder for them to take a risk on your NEXT comedy.

To NOT flop, your script has got to have that I've-got-to-take-work-off-to-see-this-film buzz.

ex. Whether you love or hate Sex in the City, it got women of all ages into the theaters. Remember that a movie is a luxury for women with families. They have to get time away, pay for babysitters, have to pay for parking.

Your film has to inspire them to make that effort. Otherwise, why shouldn't they just wait for the DVD?

d) Your comedy must find the right home (studio, marketing, director, etc.)

I can't emphasize this strongly enough.

ex. I covered a fantastic comedy spec about a working mother. I was skeptical if the (mostly) male higher ups would "get it," but amazingly, they jumped on it! I think they got that this was going to be a seriously awesome breakout role for some actress wanting to showcase a singing, dancing, comedic side.

Because your comedy may not be the easy no-brainer, look for that prod. co. that specializes in your brand of comedy. Yes, you'll have to do more research, but trust me, your chances also rise

WHAT I KNOW: You have more to prove if you're going to color outside the lines. I encourage you to do so b/c I do believe there is a market...you just gotta be prepared to work harder!

1 comment:

Dawn said...

Helpful advice, Snark! As someone outside that age range (we will not mention how far), I am looking for smart movies to see... my friends are looking for smart movies to see. And I think Blind Side is a great example of "if you make it, they will come."

Hell, just ask Nancy Meyers!