Timing is everything; in marathons, fashion, politics, even conceiving babies. It’s especially “everything” when it comes to screenwriting.
We are all familiar now with the ongoing desperate attempt to rescue the 12 soccer-playing teens from a flooded cave in Northern Thailand this week. At the time of this writing, eight have been saved, and one Thai Navy SEAL heroically drowned in his attempt to bring them back to safety.
That’s when someone posed the question about this event turning into a movie. You can bet on it, and I’m guessing more than a dozen name screenwriters in Hollywood are hard at work, pounding on their keyboards, while leaving the ending open until the end of the tragic story. Some screenplay versions of the story will tell it chronologically; some will focus on individual heroes, while another may explore the culture and politics of the country that allowed such an event to happen. Any way you slice it, there will be plenty of pieces to go around.
Does this mean this will be in the theaters Christmas Day 2018? Highly unlikely.
On average, it takes a professional screenwriter about six- to- twelve months to provide a final draft to their producer. It’s not that they are slow writers; it takes at least that long for rewrites, feedback, and to get everyone in the decision-making process rowing in the same direction. Now, you’re a year away from the actual event. Variety hears about the script being shopped around, and people say “Oh yeah, I remember that. Should be a cool movie!”
After that, they’ll work on funding the project. This is where timing comes in; does the story still generate the same interest it did at its height? Have there been other updates in the story that make it even more intriguing; lawsuits, deaths, prosecutions, etc.?
During this phase, they’ll be looking to cast the movie as well. Is there a person from this even that is the “face” of the news story; someone who an A-lister (Tom Hanks) would want to play? One downside of this particular story is that it takes place in Thailand, where English is not their primary language. The story of the trapped boys may be reported 24-7 in Thailand, but here in the States, it may or may not even lead the news shows. They keep us updated, but it’s not like CNN covering the missing Malaysian plane mystery.
Once the script is ready, funding is in place and roles are cast, filming may begin. Does it get filmed in Thailand or a jungle in Hawaii? There are a million questions you have to ask yourself- and when you have to answer questions, you’re talking about more time.
Recently, the big hit movie, “I Can Only Imagine”, was released; a film about the story behind the biggest-selling Christian single of all-time. You would think the film would follow shortly behind the meteoric success of the single, right?
The record came out in 2001.
“American Sniper” (2014) was released five years after Chris Kyle left the military. The film was in the works before his untimely murder in ’13.
The movie, “127 Hours”, was released in 2010, seven years AFTER Aron Ralston severed his own hand to free himself from a boulder (also, ironically, in a cave).
We don’t even have to discuss other historical events being turned into feature films; Bible stories, war events, political stories. How life may have been different growing up had the movie “Chappaquiddick” been produced and released in the 1970’s, closer in time to the actual scandal in 1969! Ted Kennedy would probably be a pariah today, as opposed to the “Lion of the Senate” that he was called by many before his death. Most of the people alive today (which doesn’t include Mary Jo Kopechne, by the way) aren’t even familiar with this even EVER happening!
When this movie gets made, it’ll be at least two years down the line; two years of substantially more shocking , more tragic, and even more uplifting stories that have occured in real life. By then, the majority of the people will be saying “Oh yeah, I heard about that once. What was it, like ten years ago?”
Timing is everything. Unfortunately, it’s not the ONLY thing.