2012 Spec Script Sales Analysis: Genres

January 21st, 2013 by

By my count, Hwood studios and production groups acquired 99 spec scripts in 2012. During this week, I’ll be breaking down those numbers.

Today we look at sales by genre. Some scripts are categorized as cross genres or sub-genres, so those are noted where relevant under their primary genre category.

Note: Genre designations are not scientific, so you have to understand these numbers are general.

2012 SPEC SCRIPT SALES BY GENRE

ACTION 29
Action Thriller 12
Action Crime 1
Action Fantasy 1
Action Heist 1
Action Romance 1
Action Supernatural 1

THRILLER 20
Contained Thriller 1
Crime Thriller 1
Psychological Thriller 1
Supernatural Thriller 1

COMEDY 20
Romantic Comedy 6
Action Comedy 2

SCIENCE FICTION 12
Science Fiction Thriller 2
Science Fiction Action 1
Science Fiction Comedy 1
Science Fiction Romance 1

DRAMA 12
Drama Adventure 1
Drama Romance 1

HORROR 9
Horror Thriller 4
Horror Supernatural 2

SUPERNATURAL 1

First let’s compare to 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

2008 (88 sales)

COMEDY 41
ACTION 13
DRAMA 12
THRILLER 10
FANTASY 3
SCIENCE FICTION 3
ADVENTURE 2
DISASTER 2
FAMILY 1
HORROR 1

2009 (68 sales)

COMEDY 26
THRILLER 12
ACTION 11
DRAMA 7
SCIENCE FICTION 4
ROMANTIC COMEDY 3
FAMILY 1
FANTASY 1
HEIST 1
HORROR 1
MURDER MYSTERY 1

2010 (55 sales)

COMEDY 16
ACTION 14
THRILLER 10
SCIENCE FICTION 7
DRAMA 4
FAMILY 2
FANTASY 1
MYSTERY 1

2011 (110 sales)

ACTION 29
THRILLER 20
COMEDY 19
DRAMA 14
SCIENCE FICTION 13
HORROR 8
FAMILY 2
FAIRY TALE 1
HEIST 1
SUPERNATURAL 1
WESTERN 1

2012 (99 sales)

ACTION 27
THRILLER 20
COMEDY 20
SCIENCE FICTION 12
DRAMA 10
HORROR 9
SUPERNATURAL 1

* The first thing that strikes me is how consistent the numbers were in terms of genre between 2011 and 2012: Action 29/27, Thriller 20/20, Comedy 19/20, Drama 14/10, Science Fiction 13/12, Horror 8/9. Granted this does not take into account all the other projects acquired over the course of the year such as pitches, nonfiction books, novels and the like, but apart from a decline in Drama, the numbers are remarkably the same. Does this suggest buyers are comfortable with the current approach to what areas on which they are focusing?

* Action and Thriller continue to top the charts, and everyone I talk to about this — managers, producers, writers — the first thing out of their mouths is “international market.” Action and Thriller movies are more visual in nature, less reliant on dialogue, thus more ‘translatable’ around the world. Plus — and this is a broad generalization — these two genres can tend to have more simplistic universe in terms of Bad Guys and Good Guys which also makes these movies more accessible to foreign audiences.

* Comedy has dropped precipitously since 2008 [by 50%] in terms of spec script sales and there exists something of a bad rap about the genre in Hollywood’s conventional wisdom in that the genre doesn’t ‘travel’ well internationally. Language issues, cultural specificity for jokes, and so forth. And yet it seems to have hit a bottom line in sales and is tied for 2nd in 2012. No matter what, comedies — especially those doable for a price — continue to be a favored genre in Hollywood.

* If you add up all the genres and sub-genres with Thriller in them in 2012, you come up with 36 spec script sales. That represents 36% of sales which means for the second year in a row, Thriller is #1 in the script acquisition market.

It appears the buyers are still in a ‘dark’ mood, I’m guessing because they figure that reflects the general sensibilities of movie audiences. Action, Thriller, Horror is well over 50% of spec script sales. And yet it’s interesting to note that Rom-Coms made a comeback in 2012 with 6 sales. Could that be a harbinger of more interest in lighter, more comedic fare?

What do you think when you look at these numbers? Will they have any impact on what stories you choose to write in 2013?

Head over to comments to post your observations and analysis of the year in spec script sales.

For the entire list of 99 spec script sales in the last year, go here.

3 thoughts on “2012 Spec Script Sales Analysis: Genres

  1. Shaula Evans says:

    This analysis certainly drives home why you emphasize Action-Comedy-Thriller as the genres for spec scripts, Scott.

    What I take away as a comedy writer: the key to success is comedy that works on the international market. Write a spec with lots of physical comedy and situational comedy rather than relying on dialogue, with a premise with universal appeal, and you’ve got a much stronger chance at a sale.

    Also, I know a lot of people were writing action films or thrillers for GOYOQ–and it makes me very excited for their prospects. :)

  2. apropos, Scott, wrt the Quest winners, would you be kind enough to break those down by genre?

  3. [...] 2012 Spec Script Sales Analysis: Genres (gointothestory.blcklst.com) [...]

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