MUSINGS OF A STORY MERCHANT

Saturday, October 21, 2017

NEW from Story Merchant Books



The Meander Tile
of Lisa Greco

A Romance of Mythic Identity

By Andrea Aguillard

Los Angeles, CA—The newest release from Story Merchant Books and the second book in Andrea Aguillard’s Romance of Mythic Identity series brings you the inspiring story of second generation Italian-American Lisa Greco. She’s about to receive the reward she's worked her head off for—but she's not sure it's what she wants anymore.

When she's offered her boss's position at a prestigious New York publishing firm—a position she's worked her entire career toward—she asks for time off instead. Because it suddenly hits her: this is it. No more vacations, no more dreams of doing her own writing. And as for her love life, so much for fantasies. She might as well just take it off her bucket list. She's been judged ready to assume great responsibility over others, but it's come at a great cost: she hasn't been responsible to herself.

She's always postponed exploring her creativity, and discovering her Neapolitan origins. So, she throws the dice, and goes to Naples.

Only, her Greek-Italian heritage is not what she expected. It's much, much more—and her exploration of the enchanting city is only enhanced by a mysterious Japanese-Italian professor of mathematics and itinerant tenor, Ichiro Negroponte, who's in search of his own roots. This leads her to do something she's never done before. She takes his hand as he leads her into the darkest recesses of the ancient excavations of Cumae that reveal the key to both their identities.



Books 1 & 2 both available now in print and eBook formats.

To request a review copy of either or an author interview, please email chelsea@storymerchant.com

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Literary Love Triangle: The Making of Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises

Ernest Hemingway was busy in 1926. He’d just written his first novel, The Sun Also Rises, based on a trip to Spain he’d taken the year before. His new pal F. Scott Fitzgerald loved it, and was working on getting it published by Scribner’s, the same house that had published Fitzgerald’s breakout work, The Great Gatsby. But Fitzgerald wanted Hemingway to cut the opening of the book, which would produce a major shift in tone. Fitzgerald had to broach this subject lightly, as Hemingway took criticism like a spoiled six-year-old.

First chapter aside, they also had to figure out how to get Hemingway out of a previous commitment he’d made to another publisher. They managed to do this by offering them a mean-spirited satirical novel called The Torrents of Spring which they knew would be rejected, thus freeing Hemingway to seek publication elsewhere. Scribner’s was willing to buy the satirical novel just so they could get Sun. Hemingway vacationed with his wife and little son in Schruns, Austria, then went to New York to sign with Scribner’s. On his way back to Austria, he stopped off in Paris to see Pauline Pfeiffer, with whom he was having an affair. He may or may not have fallen in love with Pauline because she might have been the only one who thought Torrents of Spring was any good.

hemingway-main-580-revised
As Mary V. Dearborn tells it in her new biography of Hemingway, the affair with Pfeiffer was no casual thing. Hemingway’s gotten a reputation as a womanizer because it seems to fit the image of him as a macho, swaggering, marlin-catching, rhino-shooting man’s man. In fact, Hemingway was tortured by his love for Pauline, and wanted desperately to figure things out. Not that he had a mature way of working through it: when his wife Hadley confronted him about it, he flew into a rage, blaming her for even bringing it up.

Today being Hemingway’s birthday, I’ve been reading Dearborn’s book and found the events around the time of the writing and publication of The Sun Also Rises ripe for a graphic interpretation. I don’t know if Hemingway liked comics, but fans can consider this a posthumous birthday gift for Papa, who was born today in 1899.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

What's in a name... Warner Bros. Retitles "MEG to "The MEG"



Director, Jon Turteltaub‘s (National Treasure). Starring are Jason Statham (Spy, Furious 7, The Expendables films) and award-winning Chinese actress Li Bingbing (Transformers: Age of Extinction, Forbidden Kingdom, The Message). The Meg will swim into theaters on August 10, 2018.

A deep-sea submersible—part of an international undersea observation program—has been attacked by a massive creature, previously thought to be extinct, and now lies disabled at the bottom of the deepest trench in the Pacific…with its crew trapped inside. With time running out, expert deep sea rescue diver Jonas Taylor (Statham) is recruited by a visionary Chinese oceanographer (Winston Chao), against the wishes of his daughter Suyin (Li Bingbing), to save the crew—and the ocean itself—from this unstoppable threat: a pre-historic 75-foot-long shark known as the Megalodon. What no one could have imagined is that, years before, Taylor had encountered this same terrifying creature. Now, teamed with Suyin, he must confront his fears and risk his own life to save everyone trapped below…bringing him face to face once more with the greatest and largest predator of all time.

Rounding out the international main cast of Meg are New Zealander Cliff Curtis (The Dark Horse, Risen, TV’s Fear the Walking Dead), Rainn Wilson (TV’s The Office, Super), Ruby Rose (xXx: Return of Xander Cage, TV’s Orange is the New Black), Winston Chao(Skiptrace, Kabali), Page Kennedy (TV’s Rush Hour), Jessica McNamee (The Vow, TV’s Sirens), Ólafur Darri Ólafsson (The BFG, TV’s The Missing), Robert Taylor (Focus, TV’s Longmire), Sophia Shuya Cai (Somewhere Only We Know), and Masi Oka (TV’s Hawaii Five-0, Heroes).



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Musicologist and Author of Dr. Fuddle and the Gold Baton, Dr. Warren Woodruff Attending CHOA Tower of Talent

Joseph DeBlasi, Angelica Hale, Dr. Warren Woodruff


So happy to be reunited with my darling Angelica and to be a part of such a wonderful fundraiser for CHOA. Great job everyone!


Yannie Tan and Laura Zhang

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Writers and Authors Interviews Ken Atchity about The Messiah Matrix

Why Did You Write Such a Heavily-Researched Book as a Novel?

by Jo Linsdell

 I've been asked that question numerous times in interviews and emails, and it's a good one. As a former professor, I wrote more than a handful of scholarly books, and certainly could have expanded on the premise of The Messiah Matrix as nonfiction instead of in the format of a romantic thriller.

My main reason for choosing to write it as a novel is that, to quote Muriel Rukeyser, "the universe is made of stories, not of atoms." I wanted this story to reach its maximum audience, and knew it would never do that as a nonfiction "study" of the origins of Christianity in imperial Rome. Even contemporary quantum physicists would agree that without our perception and report reality would not be all it's cracked up to be. If a tree falls in the forest, and there's no one to tell the story it simply doesn't matter whether it fell or not. We humans lead our lives through stories, depending on them as coping mechanisms and guides through the labyrinth of possibilities that face us every day—relying on them as inspiration for continuing the struggle and as consolation when the struggle comes to its inevitable end.

Once in a blue moon an idea comes your way that's worthy of Herman Melville's observation, in Moby Dick: "to write a mighty book you must have a mighty theme." When I started putting together the parallels between Julius and Augustus Caesar and Jesus, I knew no one would take them seriously unless they were presented as part of a contemporary tale of relevance to our world today. I'm not comparing my novel to Moby Dick, nor claiming it's a mighty tale—but its premise was powerful enough to compel me through the forty-something drafts I went through in the four years it was on the drawing board. I'd still like to do some more revising, and will no doubt do so on its way to the screen.

Storytelling is such a privilege that the ancient Greeks put the story teller, teknos, on a par with kings when it came to honoring his appearance in the polis. He was the center of attention because in the preliterate world his songs brought heroic behavior and insight into the human condition to a populace hungry for meaning, for figuring out what life is all about. Today's novelist, making his way from blog to blog in the new frontier that is the Internet, is like that ancient teknos. He is welcome if he tells a story that provokes us, that makes us laugh, or weep, or think.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Even in the 1700s, Book Clubs Were Really About Drinking and Socializing

And “a considerable element of boisterous good humor.”

Parties where playwrights like Moliere read aloud were precursors to rowdy book clubs.
Parties where playwrights like Moliere read aloud were precursors to rowdy book clubs. ullstein bild/Getty

In theory, book clubs are supposed to be about reading and discussing books. In practice, they are often more about hanging out with a group of people, drinking, gossiping, and generally having a nice evening. Depending on the percentage of the group that has actually read the book, it may be discussed, or it may not. The book is the excuse, not necessarily the point.

It turns out it’s always been this way.

Ever since the advent of book clubs in 18th-century England, when books were scarce and expensive, these organizations have been about more than reading. Book clubs were organized to help members gain access to reading material and to provide a forum for discussion of books the club held. But they were also about gossip and drinking. As the University of St. Andrews’ David Allan writes in A Nation of Readers, “In most cases, food and alcohol in copious quantities, accompanied we may suspect by a considerable element of boisterous good humour, played an important part in the life of the book clubs.”

Book clubs were part of this literary culture. In book clubs today every member might buy his or her own copy of a book, but in the 18th century, part of the point of the clubs was to pool resources in order to buy more books. Belonging to a book club meant having a larger personal library than you might otherwise have access to—you just had to share. There are few records of the activities of these early book clubs, but those that survive indicate that, as with today’s book clubs, members intended to get together and talk about books, but social aspects were key selling points.

One club, for instance, had 22 members (including Branwell Brontë, the sole brother of the literary siblings) and met for monthly dinners. “A broad hint of conviviality is given in the rules,” writes Kaufman, “which imposed fines for swearing, for being drunk ‘so that a member be offensive to the company,’ and for unseemly scrambling for books to borrow!” Another society, founded in 1742, lasted for decades, and the dinners were a key feature for it as well. “Article XV of the Regulations emphasizes in detail the monthly dinners, specifying—with elaborate exceptions—the Tuesday before the full moon,” Kaufman reports. A member who missed the dinner had to pay a shilling. For other misdemeanors, which included letting a dog into the club room or revealing his vote for or against a potential new member, members had to contribute a bottle of wine.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Why I Founded Story Merchant Books



My representation company, Story Merchant had reached a point, about four years ago, when I knew something was wrong. I’d founded Story Merchant, a literary management company, to find books I could set up as films or television. But the flow of movie properties was slowing drastically because we were selling fewer and fewer books to the traditional publishers.

Assessing the situation, we realized that traditional publishing had officially changed from the visionary entrepreneurial world it once was. Now nearly all major imprints were part of one or another of five big conglomerates. Hachette, CBS Viacom, Penguin Putnam Random House, Harper, and Holtzbrinck were all different, but they had one thing in common: the new international corporate owners cared primarily for the bottom line. They were allowing editors to take fewer and fewer chances on unknown new voices. It was breaking my heart to see outstanding books get kicked to the curb because they couldn’t prove they would sell, and because their authors didn’t have a national or international “platform”—that word that suddenly became as much a buzzword as “sustainable” is today.

Then I got an invitation from a friend at Amazon, to attend a meeting of select literary reps—agents and managers—in New York. I was introduced to the prospect of working closely with Amazon, to pass along worthy books for direct publishing. Worthy books meant well-written, well-edited, well-designed, and well-launched books.

I instantly decided to form my own imprint, Story Merchant Books, to have books I could hand across the breakfast, lunch, and dinner tables I frequented in my Hollywood producing world. And it worked. Since the imprint began we’ve assisted nearly 200 titles in being direct-published, and have set up nearly twenty of them already as feature films, television films, or series.

Every setback is an opportunity in the new frontier of the story marketplace.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

More Story Merchant Books October Amazon eBook Deals

FREE October 12 - October 16 

Upon This World of Stone, The Paladin Trilogy Book 2 by James A Hillebrecht 


THE PALADIN TRILOGY:Three Novels of Heroism Darius Inglorion, a holy warrior known as a Paladin, is summoned to rally the divided states of the Southlands to fight a terrible invader while overcoming treachery and accusations of heresy.












FREE October 16 - October 20 

Death Dives Deep by Michael Avallone
An Ed Noon Mystery 

Is there a genuine Bermuda Triangle Menace? Sexy sirens, submarine suspense, and a sinister plot to torpedo America. A red-hot assignment tossed in the lap of the President’s top-secret man, detective Ed Noon.












FREE October 20 - October 25!  

Warren Woodruff​'s 
Dr. Fuddle and the Gold Baton

“Music begins where language ends."

A unique children's fantasy about the beauty and power of music.

Tyler and his sister Christina face a bone chilling mystery. Only Dr. Fuddle offers them help--and a dangerous challenge. They must leave earth and enter Orphea, and save it from the evil Jedernann’s rule of chaos and cacophony.

Can they and their friends survive the journey and reclaim the legendary gold baton that will restore harmony to the earth?




FREE October 25 - 29!

Thomas J. Mitchell 's 
Light & Shadow


LIGHT & SHADOW is a heart-warming, rib-tickling, and inspirational collection of poetry. No one can read these pages of versified profundity without being the wiser for it.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Kings River Life Magazine Feature: Dennis Palumbo’s Dr. Daniel Rinaldi: A Good Man to Have on Your Side

Be content with what you have: rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. —Lao Tzu


Employing a psychologist or a psychiatrist as a part of an investigative team makes perfect sense. It has worked well for Val McDermid and her Dr. Tony Hill. Even Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Lecter, though insane, had professional insights that helped Clarice Starling find “Buffalo Bill” after all. Enter Daniel Rinaldi, Dennis Palumbo’s clinical psychologist based in Pittsburgh. Rinaldi, no stranger to trauma and personal loss himself, is the therapist we dream of: worthy of trust, adept at his job, and flawed just enough to make him interesting but not enough to damage any of us or his patients. He is pulled into Pittsburgh’s Police Department for more than one reason and shoulders his way through resentment and obstructions to help both patients and friends involved in or with law enforcement.

bookMirror Image (2010) introduces police consultant, trauma specialist, and therapist Daniel Rinaldi who finds himself a murder suspect when one of his patients turns up murdered. His personal and professional jeopardy increases when a contentious colleague wants Rinaldi brought up on charges but turns up murdered. Rinaldi tries to treat the survivor of a brutal bank robbery in Fever Dream (2011), but she keeps vanishing. The investigation is further compromised by one (or more) of the police detectives who is busy going off the rails. And since profilers spend their professional lives studying the worst criminals among us, when one of them needs a therapist, in the spirit of law enforcement inter-department co-operation, Rinaldi is shanghaied to assist in Night Terrors (2013).

Although patient treatment usually falls into recognizable categories, therapists may have conflicting views on what is benign enough to be ignored in their patients’ behavior and what should be directly addressed. In Mirror Image the murder of one of Rinaldi’s patients outrages one of Rinaldi’s colleagues to the extent that violence ensues between the two doctors. Events progress even more dangerously so that Rinaldi becomes a murder suspect twice over. The hits just keep on coming for the good doctor when he crosses a magnate wealthy beyond our ken who is determined to ruin the doctor’s reputation in a national media campaign.

bookRinaldi’s personal experience with trauma has made him a better therapist, but he isn’t immune to conflict surrounding survivors as they cope with the aftermath of violence. Fever Dream blurs the line between his own desires and the reality of the crime itself as well as his unwilling entanglement in a public official’s political ambitions. As if the doctor weren’t tasked enough, he seems helpless as one colleague shuts him out for personal reasons while another is busy blazing a self-destructive path through Pittsburgh. The death threats meant to muddy the waters even more have the opposite effect on Rinaldi as he begins to see the pattern of how it all fits together.

bookImagine what it must be like to have violent, aberrant behavior as the focus of your profession. Such is the case for Lyle Barnes in Night Terrors. Years of exposure to the worst individuals civilization has to offer has taken its toll on the veteran profiler in the form of the sleep disorder, night terrors. That he is also the focus of an assassin ups the stakes. Barnes disappears from protective custody before Rinaldi can begin to help him, complicating all of the above. As always, Rinaldi becomes more involved that he would like doing his best to help the mother of a killer she affirms is innocent—all evidence to the contrary.

These first three Rinaldi novels are so full of plots and characters that readers are kept busy indeed. Not only does Dr. Rinaldi have his hands full with patients in various stages of psychological health, he is finding his way back to a love life after years of mourning and is the go-to therapist for local and national law enforcement. What keeps me reading despite sometimes wanting a flow chart is that Rinaldi is a man we would all like to know. Despite conflict he is centered and innately positive. As a colleague, a friend, or a lover Rinaldi is a man to have on your side. Despite his often clouded vision or because of it, the doctor is immediately likable and one cares for him and for what happens to him. I look forward to the next Rinaldi novel, Phantom Limb (2014). I’m late to the party in reading these novels, but the party is still going on!

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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Story Merchant Books October Amazon eBook Deals!

FREE September 30 - October 4

Kenneth Atchity's Cajun Household
Wisdom 

Laissez les bon temps roulez! Let the good times roll! 

Cajun culture is funny and fun-loving. It's rooted in the earth. It's rooted in the kitchen. It's needlessly, hopelessly, complicated, and yet is utterly simple and suspicious of all things modern, especially food and drink. 

CAJUN HOUSEHOLD WISDOM takes you back to the days when family gatherings stretched far into summer nights with endless food and fun, when uncles and aunts, sisters and brothers, and countless cousins teased and taunted and chased fireflies, while grandpere spouted yet another story about "that ol' white mule," and strains of fiddle music lured lovers off into the dark.




FREE October 3 - October 7 

Attack on Khoda Bridge by Frank Mitchell

Ankara, Nov 5th 1979 (TPI). Two days ago, terrorists attacked an engineering survey party preparing topographical maps for the future hydroelectric dam on the Aras River between the Republic of Iran and the Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan. A senior Russian engineer, an Iranian engineering officer, and a junior officer were killed by the terrorists. Surviving were an American and a Turkish engineer. After dark, there was a gun battle at the nearby construction camp. The construction workers drove off a larger unit of radical Islamists revolutionaries causing heavy casualties among the pasdaran.






Free October 6 - October 10 

Budget Bucks in Your Lap: Become a More Successful Whitetail

This book was written for every hunter who wants close encounters with the nicest White-tailed bucks his/her hunting area has to offer. No sanctuary or game preserve deer are illustrated within.












FREE October 9 - October 13 

Take Heart by Lauren Michelle Smith 


Sweet, funny and sexy romance! Mia, strong, independent, and quick-witted is a bit guarded from dealing with life's hardships at the hands of an alcoholic mother when she meets the charming Chase Williams.














FREE October 11 - October 15!!  
Fossil River by Jock Miller

Fossil fuel has an ageless affinity with dinosaurs. To create oil, dinosaurs died. Now, in this riveting action thriller, the tables are turning!
This pedal-to-the-metal speculative thriller revolves around the discovery of a highly territorial colony of predatory dinosaurs in Alaska that has survived undetected for millions of years.

~ Kirkus Review


Thursday, September 28, 2017

An Interview With Michael A. Simpson






Michael A. Simpson is a writer, director and producer of award-winning documentaries and feature films. Sons of My Fathers is his first book.

purchase on Amazon.comBased on a landmark U.S. federal court case against the U.S. Army, this is a deeply personal and compellingly written saga by the younger brother in this true story (Michael Simpson). Sons of My Fathers is an evocative journey into the author's family history and the universal themes central to it—the bonds of family and star-crossed love, duty versus faith, the true nature of patriotism and conscience in war, and the turbulent end of innocence. Rich in emotional textures, Sons of My Fathers is a transformative and timeless coming-of-age narrative.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Non-Fiction Book on the Slenderman Controversy From Nick Redfern February, 2018

It’s the dead of night; you are fast asleep. Suddenly, you are wide awake but unable to move. Hunched over you in the shadows is an eight- or nine-foot-tall gaunt entity with spider-thin limbs, dressed in an old-style black suit, its pale face missing eyes, nose, ears, and mouth. You finally manage to cry out. The monstrous thing disappears as suddenly as it appeared.

You just had a terrifying encounter with the Slenderman.

Who―or what―is the Slenderman? His existence began on the Internet, but he didn’t stay online. The Slenderman may be a tulpa, a thought-form that can stride out of our darkest imaginations and into reality if enough people believe in it. In May 2014, two young Milwaukee girls almost killed a friend in the name of the Slenderman. Perhaps, like the vast Skynet system in the Terminator movies, the Internet is turning against us―and attacking us with digital equivalents of our own online nightmares.

The Slenderman has come to life. For the first time, this book reveals the full and fear-filled saga.

Friday, September 22, 2017

TROPHY Q&A Opening Night at the Monicas with Filmmakers, Subject, and Moderator Alec Baldwin

TROPHY deeply troubling and controversial. Screening hosted by Alec Baldwin and welcoming filmmakers Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau along with John and Albina Hume.







What Types of $20M – $50M Films Break Out?

An investigative report from Film Industry Analyst Stephen Follows and Founder of The Numbers Bruce Nash

When we took a look at what it takes for a low-budget film to become a breakout hit, and discovered that the most successful movies came from a small number of specific genres. Twelve months on, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at films at the top end of the “independent” budget range, and see if the hits in this budget range also share some of the same DNA.

To do this, we compiled an analysis of the sixty most profitable movies budgeted between $20 million and $50 million, released between 2000 and 2016: roughly three films a year from the period under consideration. For more details of our methods and criteria, see the Notes section at the end of this piece.

Last time around, we found all the successful films fell into one of four categories. At this higher budget level, things are a little more diverse, but there are still a relatively small number of models that seem to produce the huge hits.



Let’s look a closer look at each of these categories.


Model One: Oscar-Worthy Dramas



  • Dramas which have been nominated for either Best Picture or a Best Screenplay award at the Academy Awards.
  • Including: The Help, Silver Linings Playbook, The Blind Side, Million Dollar Baby, Finding Neverland, About a Boy, True Grit, Ray, American Hustle, Straight Outta Compton and Bridge of Spies.
  • 50% were PG-13, 43% were R-rated and one film was rated PG.

This is the biggest category of films we found, with 14 movies, and the rule here is simple: get a great script, great cast and crew, visionary director, and let them do their thing. Notably, this is the only category that’s a holdover from last year’s study of low-budget films: at all budget levels, quality pays off.


Model Two: Lowbrow Comedies With Broad Appeal



  • Comedies with a gross-out component and broad appeal.
  • Including: The Hangover, Ted, The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Bridesmaids, Old School, We’re the Millers, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Ride Along, Zombieland, Mr. Bean’s Holiday and 21 Jump Street.
  • 75% were R-rated.

The general rule among comedies seems to be not to assume too much intellectual capacity from your audience. That’s not to say that these films aren’t well-written (far from it), but there are precious few jokes about Camus or deep themes in these films. All of these films did well at the box office, but they also played well on video—some of them would have made the top 60 anyway, but cranking out big sales and/or rentals on the home market really helped all of them.


Model Three: High Concept Thrillers



  • Thrillers with a clear, one-line hook.
  • Including: Taken, Lucy, Limitless, District 9, Looper and V for Vendetta.
  • Mostly sci-fi with Taken being the only exception.

The secret for thrillers seems to be to produce something that has a strong “hook,” and then stick to it. Watching the trailer tells you most of what you need to know about these films, perhaps with a bit of a mystery about how they will end (although the Taken films don’t really have much mystery about even that). This is another group of films that benefit from high demand on video.


Model Four: Adaptations of Books With An Established Audience



  • Based on a highly successful novel, and often produced by a Hollywood major.
  • Including: Twilight, Fifty Shades of Grey, The Notebook, The Maze Runner, Shrek, Hauru no ugoku shiro (Howl’s Moving Castle), Bridge to Terabithia and Dear John.

Although our focus is mostly on independent films, and studio productions tend to exceed $50 million these days, there are a few cases (eight, to be precise) where a studio has bought the rights to a very popular book, managed to keep their budget below $50 million, and made a tidy profit. The common theme here is that the films mostly pleased the existing fans of the books.


Model Five: High Concept romances



  • Movies targeted almost exclusively at women.
  • Including: The Devil Wears Prada, The Proposal, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Sweet Home Alabama, P.S. I Love You and Serendipity.
  • All but one are PG-13.

This category is something of a counterpart to the thrillers. If that list was the top films that a group of guys might rent on a Friday night, this (along with a few of the book adaptations above) might be the top films for a girls’ night in. Again, a clear hook, interesting female leads and a strong delivery are key.


Model Six: Age-Reversal Family Films



  • Family films with either adults acting like children or children acting like adults.
  • Including: Elf, Freaky Friday, The Karate Kid, Spy Kids and The Game Plan.
  • All were PG-rated.

We expected to see some family films on this list, but what’s striking about it is that the hook in all but one of them is adults acting like kids or vice versa. Kids seem to love that stuff, and these films not only played well in theaters, but are perennial top-sellers on video. It’s worth noting that Mamma Mia, another movie in a similar vein, misses this list simply because its reported budget was $52 million. Worldwide, it was the top-selling video released in 2008.


Analysis

The main takeaway from this research is that these types of breakout hits are very clear, high concept movies. They promise the audience one particular thing… and then fully deliver on that pitch. It’s almost like the filmmakers are saying to the audience “We’re not being clever – it’s a film about x”.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, we can see the effect of such simple narratives in the types of people who pay to see these movies. Using UK cinema audience data, we are able to show how the audience differs for four of these major groups.



High Concept Thrillers played to a majority male audience (four-fifths of the audience for Looper were male) and the High Concept Chick Flick played to majority-female audiences (The Devil Wears Prada audience was four-fifths female).

When we focus on Oscar-worthy Dramas and Lowbrow Comedies we can see a clear split, not by gender but by age. All but one of the dramas played to audiences who were, on average, over 25 years old (the one holdout being Silver Linings Playbook). Conversely, all but one of the Lowbrow Comedies played to audiences who were on average under 25 years old, with Bridesmaids being the one exception.

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