A month ago, Hollywood soothsayers were predicting the great pre-strike deal rush would be over by now.
But with the first guild deadline mere weeks away, dealmaking continues fast and furious — even as studio execs warn that the gates are closing to pitches.
Warners gambled more than $2 million last week on “Hangover,” a spec script that Todd Phillips may direct before a potential work stoppage by thesps. And DreamWorks put the finishing touches on the deal for the next bigscreen collaboration between “Norbit” helmer Brian Robbins and Eddie Murphy.
Producers, meanwhile, scrambled to line up as many potential pre-strike projects as possible, hunkering down with scribes to work out script issues before the Oct. 31 WGA deadline. Reps for directors and midlevel thesps, in turn, chased after projects with open slots.
“There’s so much froth in the marketplace, it’s hard to know what’s really going on,” says one producer-manager, who says the moviemaking machinery is on overdrive. “Schedules are going to be in constant flux next few weeks.”
Gigs wanted: Directors around town are still looking for projects; ditto midlevel thesps, who can be thrown into projects at the last minute. “Everyone’s trying to make sure their clients are working,” says another producer-manager.
Sweet spot: Films in the $16 million-$25 million budget range, especially comedies. “You can’t go wrong with those,” a producer says.
Windows are closing… Certain studios are putting the word out that they won’t take any more pitches and that there’s no more money for development. Universal is very tight on money right now; production prexy Donna Langley has been telling writers there’s no more development coin for three months.
Or are they?: Rumors of deal moratoriums might turn a potential strike into a de facto labor stoppage, with studios filled to the brim with projects even if strikes are averted. Talk of coin shortfalls — and brimming pipelines — is almost an excuse, says one dealmaker.
“If they see something they really want, they’re going to buy it.”