Pitch sale: "License to Steal"

June 29th, 2009 by

Paramount’s new regime wastes no time making noise with a seven-figure purchase of action-comedy pitch “License to Steal” from writer Shane Salerno:

Shane Salerno will pen the script. Project is loosely based on Marc Weingarten’s Salon.com article about the high-end repo business, in which agents travel all the world to reclaim play toys including private jets and speedboats.

Though a portion of the article got published in two parts by Salon.com, Salerno actually acquired the article from Weingarten a year ago. Studios read an 8,000-word unpublished version, along with a pitch by Salerno, who is currently writing a project that James Cameron is producing at Fox.

Reading between the lines in the obligatory fawning comment for the press — from producers Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci:

Kurtzman and Orci said: “We’re thrilled to be working with Shane, a wildly inventive and talented creator. His passion was clear the minute he started telling his story. He has crafted a smart, lighthearted action movie that’s fun and topical, with a ton of unexpected plot twists.”

“A smart, lighthearted action movie”: Salerno had a clear understanding of the exact type of movie he was crafting.

“That’s fun and topical”: While relevant to today’s economic climate, it’s good escapist fare.

“With a ton of unexpected plot twists”: Beyond the core concept, this is probably the narrative element that sold that pitch. If you can surprise veteran moviemakers with complications, twists, roadblocks, and reversals, then you stand a good chance of selling your project.

In September 2008, Salerno sold the spec script “Doomsday Protocol”.

Salerno is repped by WME.

3 thoughts on “Pitch sale: "License to Steal"

  1. Nicholas says:

    This pisses me off, as I had planned to start writing a spec in September based off of that same article (and one other that is far more badass). I will go the route of similar, but different, and write it anyway, still. Though mine will be a bit darker, I think, and more of a thriller than an action/comedy.

  2. Scott says:

    Nicholas, this is one of the obvious advantages in keeping track of what sells: Learning about competiting projects. Now you know to shape your idea differently than this one that's set up.

    It does piss off a writer to discover someone else is doing their idea. But it's a lot better to know before you go to the trouble of writing an entire script.

  3. Nicholas says:

    Yeah, I knew as soon as I read that article that someone was going to be basing a film off of it. Almost like a sixth sense kind of thing. And I am sure there are countless other writers out there who are attempting it write now.

    Luckily, I am not at all attached to the project yet, and I have several other story concepts that I find much more pressing than it. Chances are I will never end up writing it.

    I thank you and your blog for the reasons why I am able to keep up on what sells now. The fact that you take what you hear about and share it with us lowly hopefuls is just brilliant. What you do here is much appreciated.

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