Speaking as a member of the WGAw since 1995, I am disgusted whenever I hear that a studio is doing parallel development on a film. It's a terrible process for the writers, and it reduces the idea of authorship, handing all of the power back to the producers.
It's easy to see why a studio would do it. After all, they're in a rush right now at Warner Bros. to get into the game that Marvel has been winning non-stop for the last few years, and Aquaman is already set to appear in "Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice," with Jason Momoa signed to play the character. For Warner Bros., they're trying to get these films up and ready to go as quickly as they can. Having two writers each work on a script to see what ends up working best sounds like a great way to short-cut things.
For the writers, though, it's a grotesque process. We're not talking about unknown nobodies, either. Will Beall wrote "Gangster Squad" for Warner Bros., but I'm guessing the reason he ended up landing this job is because of his "Justice League" script that was developed a few years ago. Kurt Johnstad wrote "300" and was also part of the "300" sequel. In both cases, these are writers that Warner Bros. already knows and likes, so either one of them would have been a great pick to write an "Aquaman" movie.
By commencing both of them on scripts, the studio is telling them right up front that someone's going to win this process and someone's going to lose. That's not the way a creative endeavor should work. You can't do great work if you're stressed that you're going to lose the job or worse, that you're going to turn something in that's simply going to disappear into the process. It's hard to get motivated to do your best work if there's a chance it's just not going to be seen by anyone.
It also demonstrates to anyone observing the process that Warner must not have much of an idea about what they want from the character. If they did, they'd hire one writer to follow that vision. Instead, they're treating this like it's a reality show, and they'll vote some writer off the island at some point.
This is a relatively recent evolution, and at some point, the Writer's Guild is going to have to step in and do something about this. There's a reason the Minimum Basic Agreement exists, and if it's not addressed there, then it's not something the studios take 100% seriously. I mean, they already push and push and push to try to shift the definition of a "draft" in a way that saves them money, and they end-run any number of other things in the MBA when it is convenient for them, but if we at least have the language in there that says "no parallel drafts," then studios can't be this open about pitting people against one another.
Right now, there's no word on what date Warner is looking at for "Aquaman," but considering they just claimed about 20 dates over the next five years, there are plenty of options. Let's see if either of these scripts motivates the studio to finally get Vincent Chase suited up and in the water.
"Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice" is in theaters March 25, 2016.
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
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