Skip

Take Me To Your Sales Leader
November 22, 2010 12:36 PM   Subscribe

Want to get your graphic novel made into a movie? As a last resort, try creating an actual graphic novel. Then, pay comic book stores to both carry it and sell it cheap (or give it away while still counting it as a sale). Once you've artificially climbed the sales charts, Hollywood will come-a-callin'. The story of how Cowboys & Aliens (has just about) made it to the silver screen. [Via gammasquad.]
posted by notmydesk (61 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Payola?

Pageola?

In any case, fascinating.
posted by The Whelk at 12:37 PM on November 22, 2010


Hmm. I feel about this roughly the same way I feel about the media section of SDCC consuming the rest.
posted by Artw at 12:47 PM on November 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I wondered why I'd never heard of this. I'm not a /huge/ comics reader, but I do hear a fair amount of buzz from friend who are. And this one just showed up on on the TV machine one day.

I probably won't go to see it anyway, because 3D films are terrible. But I'm less likely to read this comic or steal it off the internet.
posted by clvrmnky at 12:48 PM on November 22, 2010


Okay, so it's bullshit. But tell me the trailer doesn't look like stupid fun.
posted by The Bellman at 12:49 PM on November 22, 2010


Okay but c'mon Jon Favreau directs Harrison Ford, Sam Rockwell, and Daniel Craig? I am okay with that.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:54 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bullshit or not, it's still a nifty idea that no one had been doing.

The young Steven Spielberg famously snuck onto the Universal lot and commandeered an empty office. Soon, people thought he belonged there and eventually checked out his first independent short.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:56 PM on November 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Don't they sell comics for movies now before the comic even comes out?
posted by smackfu at 1:00 PM on November 22, 2010


The resulting book was exactly what you'd imagine a book created by movie guys as a movie pitch would look like. By the numbers, completely mediocre, with nothing to make anyone care about why anything was happening.

Platinum also put out "Unique" which was allegedly by Dean Motter, who I love. It too was bland, "please option me" material. I haven't paid attention to the company since.
posted by Legomancer at 1:06 PM on November 22, 2010


A quick glance at a synopsis of the comic suggests that the print story and the film story have only two things broadly in common. Universal isn't adapting the comic; it's adapting the title, which appears to be all this Rosenberg guy had to sell in the first place.
posted by Iridic at 1:06 PM on November 22, 2010


Is the actual publishing of this mediocrity really worth that much to get the movie studios interested? Why didn't they just send a nice copy on glossy paper of the graphic novel to each potentially interested studio agent and save themselves the trouble? I will now sit quietly and wait to be educated by the studio system knowledgeable people, thanks.
posted by Iosephus at 1:15 PM on November 22, 2010


oshit im gonna be rich
posted by Eideteker at 1:15 PM on November 22, 2010


I will now sit quietly and wait to be educated by the studio system knowledgeable people, thanks.

Well, the answer to any question of that kind if going to be "in order to reassure the risk adverse people with no imagination that sit on all the money".
posted by Artw at 1:17 PM on November 22, 2010


Bullshit or not, it's still a nifty idea that no one had been doing.


Actually, a different cowboys + ETs concept was already in the works at the time, to be published by Ape Entertainment.* I’m not sure which one got out of the gate first, but this wasn’t the only kick at the can in circulation, just the only one that leveraged colossal amounts of money to trick people into thinking it was good.

*full disclosure: I work with Ape from time to time.
posted by Shepherd at 1:23 PM on November 22, 2010


And it turns out that even the Spielberg story is bullshit. I stand corrected.

Well, whatever. I'm sure it will be a terrible, terrible movie simply because this person didn't deserve to have it made. Because assholes apparently never, ever have good ideas.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:45 PM on November 22, 2010


Actually, a different cowboys + ETs concept was already in the works at the time, to be published by Ape Entertainment.

We've already got Aliens in the Wild, Wild, West. What else do you want?
posted by mrgrimm at 1:46 PM on November 22, 2010


This seems to be trend these days. I believe Kick-Ass and Scott Pilgrim were written as screenplays even before the final installment of their series were released.

*old woman cough*

Back in my day, guys like Neil Gaiman and Frank Miller waited DECADES before they could find anybody in the movie industry unrepulsive enough to pick up their properties.

*cough cough*.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 1:58 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


There was a really neat aliens/wild west plotline in Tom Strong, but given what happens when Alan Moore's stuff gets made into movies it's perhaps best not to mention that.
posted by Artw at 1:59 PM on November 22, 2010


This is no Kick-Ass or Scott Pilgrim.
posted by Artw at 1:59 PM on November 22, 2010



This is no Kick-Ass or Scott Pilgrim.


I suppose depending on who you ask, that's good or bad.

(Incidentally, I happened to enjoy both quite a bit, though mefi seems to have tremendous hate for both the resultant movies.)
posted by The ____ of Justice at 2:05 PM on November 22, 2010


My reaction to the trailer was 'Jesus Christ, is that Harrison Ford? He looks totally fucking ancient!"
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:09 PM on November 22, 2010


I thought everyone around here fell head-over-heels for Scott Pilgrim.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:10 PM on November 22, 2010


the people who matter (me) did.
posted by The Whelk at 2:11 PM on November 22, 2010


This is no Kick-Ass or Scott Pilgrim.

Learned the other day that more people went to see Vampires Suck than Scott Pilgrim. Now I'm now fan of the latter but there is something very wrong with the world.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:13 PM on November 22, 2010


How's Knives?
posted by shakespeherian at 2:13 PM on November 22, 2010


Egyptians & Aliens (Stargate)
Hipsters & Aliens (Cloverfield)
Deep-sea drillers & Aliens (The Abyss)
Aliens & Aliens (AVP)

etc.
posted by gottabefunky at 2:24 PM on November 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Space Truckers and Aliens (Alien)

I interviewed for a gig at Platinum some years back. It was made very clear to me at the time that they were expecting interns to trawl this huge library of properties and try to get something, anything made into a film. Weird, weird vibe.

Also, that's the only interview I've ever had where "So, was Ragged Robin just making it all up?" was part of the questioning.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 2:29 PM on November 22, 2010


What's wrong with you people? There are cowboys in this movie! And aliens! Harrison Ford does the Batman voice!
posted by cmoj at 2:37 PM on November 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Cute Kids & Cute Aliens (ET)
70's synthesizers and Aliens (CE3K)
Video Games and Aliens (Last Starfighter)

etc
posted by GuyZero at 2:42 PM on November 22, 2010


Maybe it's because I'm still kind of bitter that as a clergyperson I'm pretty low on the list for space travel, but I'd love to see a film treatment of The Sparrow.

Priests and Aliens!
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:01 PM on November 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


All these comments and not one Brisco Country, Jr. reference? MeFi, you disappoint me.
posted by zardoz at 3:01 PM on November 22, 2010


I felt very smug coming up with the sure-fire Hollywood gold! of Cops & Aliens... then I remembered Alien Nation.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:02 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


AH THEY'RE ALREADY DOING THAT! Wahoo, with Brad Pitt and everything.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:02 PM on November 22, 2010


Everyone -- literally, I think, every person with at least a passing knowledge of English as a written language who lives in Los Angeles -- wrote a draft of that script. The first time I read it, the writer was Thompson Evans. That was 2002. The next draft I read was a complete reimagining, from the mind of David Hayter. It was pretty good, or at least better than the suck the Evans draft delivered. Studio threw that out, though, and in 2005, Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer wrote a completely new script that seemed to have nothing more than the title in common with the other two versions.

If Kurtzman & Orci hadn't taken over the project, I'm sure it would've languished and died. They have a way of getting risk-averse execs to pony up a quarter billion dollars for their 'creations.'
posted by incessant at 3:11 PM on November 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


The story of how this movie was made would make a movie I would see. I love a good con.
posted by chairface at 3:39 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


zardoz, my love for this concept is that it looks like ([Han Solo + James Bond] + [Brisco County, Jr.]) x (Iron Man's writer). It's not just you.

The payola aspect with the comic is fascinating and not something I knew about. I'm not surprised, though, because I know the comic distribution business has been in terrible shape for years (as has the comics shop market in general). Reduced distribution channels seems like an ideal breeding ground for payola scams.
posted by immlass at 3:39 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


30 Days of Night was also originally a screenplay, then turned into a comic when the screenplay didn't find any takers, and finally turned into a movie when the comic became popular.
posted by deanc at 3:49 PM on November 22, 2010


I think I would actually see this, despite the really weird astroturfy origins.

But watching the trailer, the first thing that struck me was exactly what Kate Beaton mentioned on twitter:

"that cowboys and aliens movie isn't serious but it has the most annoying thing about period films: a woman with modern hair and makeup."
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 4:01 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't actually think it's a bad idea for a movie, but the title absolutely blows. Like "Snakes on a Plane" - it gives away the punchline.

I watched Every Little Step this weekend (I'm a girl, so sue me), where I learned that "Dance: 10, Looks: 3" was originally listed in the program as "Tits and Ass" and it fell absolutely flat with audiences until the stopped giving away the punchline in the freaking title.
posted by muddgirl at 4:06 PM on November 22, 2010


It's like we've reached the point where our films can't even have a bit of artistry in the title.

"Everyman vs. the Great Evil"

"Zombies vs. Ladies"

"George Washington: Chops Down a Tree and Reveals Something About His Suitability To Be President."
posted by muddgirl at 4:09 PM on November 22, 2010


"that cowboys and aliens movie isn't serious but it has the most annoying thing about period films: a woman with modern hair and makeup."

Finally, someone else who notices this. I've resigned myself to period films inevitably featuring lead female characters with trout-pouts, long wavy hair and collarbones like the handlebars on a boy's bike.

I was charmed by the trailer when I saw it this past week, not knowing any of this. The title seems considerably less audacious and refreshing, now, so much as lazy and cynical. It will probably go the way of Snakes on a Plane.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:28 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


a woman with modern hair and makeup.

you have no idea how much this annoys me. NO IDEA

(on preview, okay maybe you Countess Elena)
posted by The Whelk at 4:46 PM on November 22, 2010


How is that any worse than men with all their teeth?
posted by GuyZero at 4:52 PM on November 22, 2010


Cause people would also have fake teeth and the makeup is way more noticeable cause it's not that you're not taking away something, you're deliberately adding something. Makeup was, for centuries, a big-ass sign of class and status and position, to just add a layer of modern makeup on every woman removes a huge amount of subtext and history and context.

I keep pointing to the Libertine as a historical picture that Did The Past Well. The past was way smokier and sweatier and full of horse shit then now.
posted by The Whelk at 4:56 PM on November 22, 2010


And yeah a movie like this isn't going to get my history buff nodes enraged cause It is A Fantasy, but things that proport to be more authentic and realistic still do it and gaaaaaah.
posted by The Whelk at 4:58 PM on November 22, 2010


So... should I pay money to watch Jonah Hex?
posted by Artw at 5:01 PM on November 22, 2010


no one else did ArtW
posted by The Whelk at 5:01 PM on November 22, 2010


The canonical counter-argument is that when you're more worried about the female lead's lipstick than the fact that there are aliens and spaceships and wrist-mounted guns with energy densities rivaling a neutron star then you're in the wrong theater. This movie will have far more egregious departures from reality.
posted by GuyZero at 5:20 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


GuyZero, in fiction, I can believe the impossible, but not the improbable. (This is a paraphrase of someone, I can't think who -- not Conan Doyle.) Aliens? Fine. Red lipstick on a lady from the era of "sluts rouge, ladies pinch"? Nope.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:32 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Tailor-made for the coveted twelve-year-old boy market.
posted by egypturnash at 5:41 PM on November 22, 2010


Everyman vs. the Great Evil isn't subtitled, is it? Sounds kinda artsy to me.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 5:55 PM on November 22, 2010


OY. I remember when we got our copies for the stores... we couldn't figure out why we got so many and we eventually gave boxes of them away to anyone who glanced at them. I never even read it, as the title was the "high point" of the exercise. Harrison Ford! Amazing.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 6:12 PM on November 22, 2010


I have sadly reached the point in my life where I will pay cash money without question to see Daniel Craig in an action movie. Doesn't matter what the movie is about, doesn't matter a bit. If they made an action remake of the Super Mario Brothers Super Show and cast Daniel Craig as Mouser I would, without hesitation, fork out 12.99 at the theater and I'd like it.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:32 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Tailor-made for the coveted twelve-year-old boy market.

There is destiny which chafes our ends, ruff-hewn though it may be.
posted by Mike Mongo at 9:28 PM on November 22, 2010


Ugh, Platinum. They got crazy lucky selling Men In Black to Hollywood, then have tried to repeat that wild stoke of luck ever since.

Having long since gone through all the cash that MIB made them, they have been blowing through tens of millions of dollars of other people's - meaning, whatever "angel" sucker they can get to fork over a few millions this year - money for more than a decade now; since they're a publicly traded company their books are also public and IIRC over the last five years they've lost something like $15 million on revenue of a few hundred thou. The last few years have featured some fun business shenanigans like selling the company to themselves in a new sock-puppet corporation and "buying" Wowio.com using essentially worthless stock and *taking* cash out of Wowio to refill Platinum's bank balance for a while. That's probably where they got the cash to payola the graphic novel.

By the way, didn't they sign Cowboys and Aliens through that contest website they put up as yet another crappy way to mine and thieve IP? I seem to recall it was.

They've been signing up any and every wannabe comic book stars they can grab into a horrible contract that steals all the IP from the creators and doesn't even guarantee that they'll publish a comic book. It's all just to grab as many IPs as possible and shop them to movie studios, they don't care anything about comics or anything else.

They finally, finally got someone to make another movie based on one of their properties. Great, that should fill up their ego tank enough to power them through another decade of slimy business deals and exploitation of naive creatives. Just what comics and Hollywood need.

Pardon me while I projectile vomit.
posted by zoogleplex at 10:57 PM on November 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Zoogleplex has changed my mind. I shall torrent this one instead.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 11:08 PM on November 22, 2010


Yeah Platinum are one of the skeeziest companies out there. They have a habit of not paying creators.
posted by PenDevil at 2:21 AM on November 23, 2010


I know I should have checked before I clicked, but please warn people before sending them over to that scum-pit, Bleeding Cool.
posted by Legomancer at 8:48 AM on November 23, 2010




Space Truckers and Aliens (Alien)

Man, I always get that one wrong.
posted by Amanojaku at 2:56 PM on November 23, 2010


Great post, notmydesk. I don't even read comics, but it's a really interesting look into how one smart guy from Alberta gamed the Hollywood system to make a buck off of what was really nothing more than a slightly clever 3 word title. With the help of a shady publishing company and an obliging press of course...
posted by jackbrown at 3:43 AM on November 24, 2010




« Older It's Warhol, actually. It's "hole." As in "holes."...   |   What $200,000 in Student Debt Looks Like Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post