On the Unlikelihood of Options Becoming Films

My dear Gentle Reader, I searched so hard to find someone else's blog post on this subject so I wouldn't have to write my own. I searched and searched until I realized I was spending more time searching and asking around than it would take to write the cursed thing, so I might as well do it myself.

One of those "she who sees a problem is responsible for the solution" situations.

I don't want to be a downer, it's not really my thing, but I am a realist. Yes, the Parasol Protectorate books have been optioned for non-film production rights (AKA TV series or mini-series). I talk a bit about that here, when it originally happened in 2012. The production company has continued to re-up their option and I have continued to allow this. We're quite friendly. I like them very much. They seem like cool interesting people. I genuinely hope we can defy the odds. But it would be a major act of defiance.

Witness Gail with the Social Media Fielding...

So where is the movie?
When does the movie come out?
Doesn't the fact that is has been optioned mean we get a movie?
I want it!
I want it NOW.

(OK so the option is basically for TV, but leaving that quibble aside...)

No. No it does not mean you get a movie.

No movie for you!

I'm not going to sugar coat it.

A friend who worked in TV told me on the DL that accepted industry guesstimates were that: of one hundred options a production company took on, ten would move to script stage and, of those ten, one would actually get made. 

That means 99% die.

"In media industry jargon, development hell (or development limbo) is a state during which a film or other project remains in development without progressing to production."

"Someone hands you an envelope of cash and a puppy. The puppy has a 99% chance of dying in twelve months. This is called a movie option."
~ Daryl Gregory (@darylwriterguy)

Here's another thing to consider...

“The upper female quadrant—shall we call it Apple Pie?—is composed of women over twenty-four, like me. We are the least frequently targeted quadrant because of our penchant for waiting until we have unloaded the dishwasher and done every other imaginable errand we have to do before we leave the house and go to the movies.”
~ Sleepless in Hollywood by Lynda Obst

Do you know what else that Apple Pie quadrant is?
My readership.

Yes, I know there are exceptions out there *waves* but there is a reason the Apple Pies are also voracious book consumers. Because a book is something you can pick up and put down again.

(Although I try to write in such a manner as to make the putting down part very difficult.)

Look, I am super excited about the fact that there may be anything made of the Parasol Protectorate series, even the possibility is pretty darn cool. I have played at fantasy casting and you have played at fantasy casting. It's fun to imagine. But even if the odds were in my favor, my books have three additional strikes against them...

  1. They are expensive to make because they take place in London, which means foriegn location (Budapest in this day-and-age, if rumors are to be believed).
  2. They are expensive to make because they have supernatural creatures and steampunk elements which means lots of CGI.
  3. They are expensive to make because they require period consuming and set dressings.

Conclusion? Expensive.

“The one thing human beings do not do well with is abundance.”
~ Sleepless in Hollywood by Lynda Obst

What are you doing Gail? You're talking anyone interested in optioning any of your other books out of it.

My dears, I certainly hope Hollywood is at least as realistic as me about my various properties because, frankly, a loss of any one of the above elements (in the interests of economy) would make them no longer really my books.

Which brings us to the final aspect of this situation. Once the option is sold, the author has little to no control over anything from production to casting to script.

But they are YOUR books, Miss Gail!

Did you see the Wizard of Earthsea TV Series?

I rest my case.

Further Reading

All the above articles are a little old. If anything, it is has gotten more difficult for books to become movies (or TV shows) rather than less difficult. The globalization (or perceived globalization) of the film market means action-based, low-dialogue, tent-pole movies are increasingly profitable and other movies are, well, not.

If you are genuinely interested in this subject and the weird reality of how Hollywood works, I cannot recommend Sleepless in Hollywood: Tales from the New Abnormal in the Movie Business by Lynda Obst (2013) highly enough. I found it utterly enthralling.

Also, Mark Kermode has a three part BBC series on the Business of Film. High production values and well worth a listen.

Finally, here is a great Stuff Mom Never Told You on Podcasting Women: Chicks Who Script. Has a more positive spin than one might think.

{Gail's monthly read along for October is Jinn and Juice by Nicole Peeler}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .
via Smithsonian Magazine V @SmithsonianMag 
Global diplomacy was in Theodore Roosevelt's hands, but his daughter stole the show.

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
‘Adorabilis’ Octopus on Display at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Why Letting Women Take Tea Breaks Was Once Considered Dangerous

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
The Pirates of Paternoster Row Ruses and Reprints in the Lady’s Magazine


Gail Carriger's Books! 

 The Finishing School Series (1850s ~ completed)
1 Etiquette & Espionage, 2 Curtsies & Conspiracies,
3 Waistcoats & Weaponry, 4 Manners & Mutiny

The Parasol Protectorate Series (1870s ~ completed)
1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless

 The Custard Protocol Series (1890s ~ ongoing)
 1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence (forthcoming)
Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels (1870s)
Soulless Vol. 1, Soulless Vol. 2, Soulless Vol. 3 (Complete at 3.)

 $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
Marine Biology; My Sister's Song; Fairy Debt;
The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn't, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar

Book News:
Some Nook love for M&M from B&N.

Quote of the Day:
“We cannot judge the business by what happens during Oscar Season. It’s like judging your own work behavior only by the times your boss is in the room.”
~ Sleepless in Hollywood by Lynda Obst

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