Amazon Studios, Group Editing, and Option Agreements

Earlier this week launched its entry into the movie the formation of Amazon Studios.

Before you read on, check it out for yourself:

Since its launch, a HUGE debate has erupted on the interwebs.

John August weighed in on Thursday (On the Amazon Film Thing) and the comment section has quickly exploded.  More recently, he posted a few follow-up articles about the debate.

(See for the latest word.  You should be going there anyway.)

If you read through the comments on John’s site, you’ll see that I entered the discussion (Comment #83!) with a few words about how misguided Amazon is in perpetuating the myth that there a TON of great scripts lying around and it’s the Hollywood gatekeepers keeping good material from getting into the right hands.

But beyond the “Hollywood Gatekeeper Myth,” it seems the general consensus is that Amazon Studios has two main problems:

1. Amazon gets an 18-month option on your screenplay This means, that you cannot submit it to other producers for EIGHTEEN MONTHS.  Agents and managers also probably won’t want to look at it, as they won’t be able to sell it.

2. Open editing While you retain your original draft, it seems a little odd that people can just edit your screenplay without permission.  This may work in some cases, but as others have pointed out, it may lead to a lot of high-rated scripts being rewritten by writers who want to get noticed, potentially making those scripts…better?  Worse?  There are a lot of question marks around this…

Of course, Amazon Studios is still very new, and no one knows what exactly what to make of it.  Screenwriters with many scripts under their belts have uploaded old scripts they are just collecting dust.  But other than that?  If you think your script has a chance-in-hell to sell, there seems to be better ways out there to get noticed.

But again, it’s early.  We’ll see what happens.



P.S. If it’s Sunday November 21st, between 5 and 6pm Pacific, join Scriptchat and their Twitter discussion by searching Twitter for #scriptchat

P.P.S. Please keep in mind this post was written in November of 2010.  If you are reading this in the future, perhaps Amazon Studios has changed its ways.  (And also, hello from the past!)

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