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"Must go attend to Wesley. See if he's still whimpering."
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February 01 2007

Warners Bros to buy Wonder Woman spec script. "Sources said the purchase [by the studio] is a pre-emptive measure aimed at taking the spec off the market to protect itself."

That's going to set a lot of sites and blogs talking.

OK. I'm starting my own script a couple hours ago. It's almost finished. Anybody got WB's phone number?

(Yes, I'm kidding!)

Also, I can well put together my sentences structure, too (see above.) Which is good for a script writer, I suppose.

[ edited by napua on 2007-02-01 09:46 ]
This seems odd to me, and a little unsettling. What similarities can there be between a period WW and Joss's? Or are they making him incorporate elements of this other script? The development spending on this must already be grotesque, so they're thinking "lets spend more money on a script we're not going to use"?
Eh. It seems like a pretty standard covering-our-asses move to me. It's the same character -- there could be a lot of similarities. And studios always buy scripts that they never end up using. The majority of scripts that are optioned never get made. I doubt this would come out of WW's budget, and it certainly wouldn't make much of a dent in the studio's.

Jaded? Me? Nah... :)

[ edited by Samantha on 2007-02-01 10:30 ]
Stranger things have happened in Hollywood. Like the first Fantastic Four movie (with Mercedes McNab) that the studio made knowing they would never release it.
I agree Samantha and zz9 that studios have strategies and accounting practices that might give pause to some Wolfram & Hart partners. But this is not an option, it's a purchase, and since appearing in Hollywood Reporter, probably for a substantial amount of money, and from what I've read, the whole development budget does go against the final gross, which is why some movies become just too expensive to make, and the writer/director often gets to be the fall guy for when it doesn't come out in the black.

Anyone care to join my run-on sentence throwdown?
They're protecting themselves from a spec script that infringes on their own copyrights and trademarks? If this is true, it is insane. In any other medium, Warner Brothers would just 'protect themselves' by refusing to even look at the script.
In any other medium, Warner Brothers would just 'protect themselves' by refusing to even look at the script.

Perhaps someone at Warner Bros already looked at the script at some stage and now they are buying it to protect themselves in the future... however, if it bears no relation to Whedon's story, then this is ludicrous.

More likely, they want to use some element of the script and/or there is already an element in Joss' script that is similar. In both of those cases, I can see Joss sharing story credit with these new guys. Lucky them.

It's rare for a superhero film to make it to the big screen without multiple writers and studio interference. And so, it begins...
What the frak.
I must admit I was a little disconcerted when I read the news this morning.
Yeah, this seems hinky. Warner Brothers owns Wonder other studio can make a Wonder Woman movie unless WB is willing to "loan out" the character...what's to protect?
This worries me. I'm thinking of Simon Kinberg's comments about the X3 script, where he said a lot of tent-pole movies these days are basically Frankensteinian collages of several scripts with a final writer brought in to try and paper over the gaps (which for me explained why X3 felt so bitty even though he actually denies that it happened in that instance). I'd hate the film to be taken from Joss' hands both for his sake and ours as an audience.

That said, if someone at Warner has already seen this script then it makes sense to buy it as a precaution if there are similar ideas in there since it seems like it might be hard to prove they didn't rip those ideas off. It's also a way of opening a relationship with two writers that seem to have impressed the studio without actually committing to producing anything so maybe it really doesn't mean anything bad.
Ultimately, a little money now is better than a lot of money later in some trumped up lawsuit. They're just covering themselves, which is a perfectly common legal formality.

I used to keep up with script sales in Hollywood, and it's remarkable how many scripts get bought that never see the light of day.
Warner Bros. Pictures and Silver Pictures are quietly in the process of buying a "Wonder Woman" spec script from newcomers Matthew Jennison and Brent Strickland, sources said.

Wow. Newcomers is right. If I've located the right people, Matthew Jennison was an assistant on Beer Blast and Brent Strickland has appeared in a few small fim roles, including Boppin' at the Glue Factory due out in May, in which he plays "Bob from Corporate."

Underground Films/Underground Management, which the Hollywood Reporter notes as the writers'co-representation, was co-founded by Nick Osborne, who once served as an intern at Silver Pictures. He and the other members of Underground seem fairly well-connected. Their website has as yet no mention of either Strickland, Jennison or this deal that I can find (on their very slow-loading website that keeps making my browser freeze.)

The only online writing mention I can find from or about either of them is Strickland's review of Casting Qs: A Collection of Casting Director Interviews by Bonnie Gillespie, which he says is "a totally invaluable resource."

Don't really get this deal at all. Either their writing is so good that this is pre-emptive or to absorb some portion of it, or there are aspects to this whole story that have not as yet surfaced.

I have, however, utter faith in Joss' ability to make the movie he intends to make.

"I discovered early in my movie work that a movie is never any better than the stupidest man connected with it. There are times when this distinction may be given to the writer or director. Most often it belongs to the producer." - Ben Hecht, A Child of the Century (1954).

"Studio executives are intelligent, brutally overworked men and women who share one thing in common with baseball managers: they wake up every morning of the world with the knowledge that sooner or later they’re going to get fired." - William Goldman, Adventures in the Screen Trade

"Hollywood money isn’t money. It’s congealed snow, melts in your hand, and there you are." - Dorothy Parker, Interview in Writers at Work, First Series, ed. Malcolm Cowley
This sounds a little bit fishy to me.
Note to self: next time write a spec on a movie thats going to be produced soon. Might sell...

Sounds a little strange to me to be honest, but as others have said: stranger things have happened in Hollywood. Maybe the script of these guys has something in it which they liked and wanted to use. Doesn´t have to be big, maybe a scene or a device or whatever and to use it they bought it.
It's possible they've written something close to what Joss has described, and then mailed it into somebody like an exec who's read it. If you want to read into it, you could say somebody is a bit itchy.

Tip: if you're an author or working for a media company, don't read anything unless you know you can. Another tip: if you're a media company, try to avoid buying spec scripts as insurance against law suits, as you open the flood gates.
It would have to be something amazingly close to Joss's script to make them buy it. The basic story, main character, mythology are well known and there must be a paper trail of the basic script going back at least a year to prove Joss didn't steal it from anyone, unless this script has been around for a lot longer.

If Spielberg can be sued for stealing the idea for ET then anything can happen. But as Gossi says, how many more people will start crawling out of the woodwork with WW scrpits and fan fics claiming theft and demanding money?
Anybody else afraid this could mean things aren't gelling with Joss' script as Silver had hoped and this new script is in reserve in case they decide to "go in another direction"?
Yep, that's a worry.

Joss: So, in conclusion, you can see that i've melded all the best elements of classic superhero mythologies but with a contemporary feminist twist which comments on the state of gender relations at the dawn of the 21st century and beyond. And made the invisible jet be not shit.

Studio: Hmmm, that's great Josh but can you maybe make it less 'Wondery' ? And also, does it have to be a woman ?


(or maybe ;-( depending on whether there's any truth to it at all ;)

As an aside, BTW, Jane Espenson has a comment in her latest blog entry to the effect that she can't read submitted writing, presumably for just the reasons Warner Bros seem to be worried about.
Based on various comments from Joss (print and online), it appears that he's really struggling to write Wonder Woman. Possibly more of a labor than a labor of love for him? I love The Whedonverse to death, but WW just might not be a good fit for him. Methinks that he probably bit off more than he could chew and Warner Bros. knows it.
I don't think by any means he bit off more then he can chew. He has not started directing yet and he is a very exprienced writer. The guy ran 3 TV shows, producing, writing and directing. I hardly think that this would be a case of biting off more then he could chew.

This sounds fishy to me as well and could be a sign that the studio is not happy about the script. Maybe they combined elements of both scripts is the thinking. To say the least this is an odd move by the Studio.
I admit that does sound odd… but I think people are forgetting that Warner Bros has no reason to lie. If they truly felt that they weren't going to go with the Joss script, they'd say it. God knows Joel Silver would say it.

It happens all the time, directors leave projects. The fact that they were quick to point out that the Joss script is still in consideration bodes well.

Let’s just be happy that they aren’t putting the film in turnaround.
I think Time Warner needs to hire me as their attorney. I mean, use some common sense, Warner Brothers. As it has been said here before, Wonder Woman is copyrighted and trademarked by DC Comics. This spec script is an unlicensed use of their intellectual property and copyright infringement in its purest sense. Warner Brothers/DC needs to sue the writers and the people distributing this script for copyright and trademark infringement and slap them with an injunction or otherwise gain possession of the material through the court process. Frankly, a lawsuit might be more expensive, but buying an infringing work is setting up a really bad precedent (as previously mentioned).

But regardless, Warner Brothers should not be worried about a future lawsuit succeeding for these jokers. Realistically, Warner Brothers could legally copy all or at least most elements of the Wonder Woman spec script. Infringing works cannot be infringed by the original copyright. That is one of the main purposes of copyright law, period.
Ya know...maybe Warner Bros. is hedging their bets for the success of Wonder Woman by getting the Jennison-Strickland script in their hands now, so when Joss' take goes mega grande big, they can have the goods for a quick sequel/prequel turnaround? Though personally, I would still want Joss in on the writing, maybe as polisher like Paul Haggis was on the script for Casino Royale ;)
I really wish Joss would come and post and set things straight...I've been looking forward to his version of WW and I would be extremely sad if they decide to replace either his script or him (as director) on this project. Please Joss! Let us have some news!!!
Pliny, you can't be sued for writing a spec besed on someone elses property. You can be sued if you make it or sell it, but not writing it or showing it around as a writing sample.
Jane Espenson has advised writers many times what current TV shows to spec. You're never going to sell it or see it made but it may win you a contest or get you a job.
I don't know, guys. Obviously I could be wrong, but I think people are reading way too much into this.

Perhaps someone at Warner Bros already looked at the script at some stage and now they are buying it to protect themselves in the future...

I really think it's as simple as that.
zz9, creation of a spec script is copyright infringement. Under Section 106 of the Copyright Act (the “Exclusive Rights in Copyrighted Works” section), creating a spec script would violate Section 106(2), which gives the copyright owner the exclusive right to “prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted works”. There is no limitation that you have to try to sell or make it, just preparing derivative works infringes.

Now, I have to admit that I was baffled for a long time about the industry custom of having writers create spec scripts for television, since that is copyright infringement. My only guess that because of industry custom, there is an implied license to create spec scripts for television, and thus it is not actionable. I don’t believe that the film industry has the same implied license, so creating a spec script for a film based on pre-existing material is probably actionable.

Also, compare a writer trying to get work by creating spec scripts for television versus what is happening here. It would be like if somebody wrote a “Veronica Mars” spec script and then forced Rob Thomas to buy it. That would likely violate any implied license to create it.

Also, I am not trying to scare any aspiring television writers. By all means, write spec scripts. I do. I just think what the people in this case crossed the legal line.
I really wish Joss would come and post and set things straight...

There is no way in any hell dimension Joss will comment on this thread. It just won't happen.
Okay, now having read the article (I couldn't acces it last night), it makes sense. It would seem to me that someone at Warner's thinks there might be similarities, and are just trying to avoid a lawsuit down the line.
You can be sued if you make it or sell it, but not writing it or showing it around as a writing sample.

Since the script was bought by WB, does that mean that WB can sue the writers now? (Maybe that was their nefarious plan all along...)'s now got a story up about this -- along with an ensuing forum thread -- and they're pretty much saying the whole thing sounds fishy. Why would WB need to protect themselves when they already own the property and 65 years worth of Wonder Woman stories? It's certainly an odd situation. Maybe something is up behind the scenes.
[Whedon’s Wonder Woman movie]’s been languishing all this time while the guy is writing comic books.


(He wouldn't happen to be talking about EW's #8 item in 2007 Preview, right? No way a trashy comic book would rate that high, right? We all know comic books are for stupid kids. Right?)
Giggling now. You see why. Check out CBS.
There is no way in any hell dimension Joss will comment on this thread. It just won't happen.

Ya- I know...thus I didn't say, "Why hasn't Joss posted here telling us this is a bunch of hooey?" But instead, "I really wish Joss..." You, "I really wish I didn't have to diet and exercise to lose weight." Or, "I really wish I could fly." Or, "I really wish I could meet Joss and he'd fall madly and passionately in love with me and say, "jbfletcher- you are glorious and are my only choice to play the Amazing Amazon, because, let's face it, you ARE Wonder Woman!!!!"" Just wishful thinking ;)
Why would WB need to protect themselves when they already own the property and 65 years worth of Wonder Woman stories? It's certainly an odd situation

Studios buy stuff like easily, like candy.

This doesn't feel like WB is trying to make an end-run around Joss -- if the suits did like the script enough to actually make the movie (which is a HUGE if -- lots of scripts are written, few are made; anyone ever hear Kevin Smith's story of how he wrote an entire screenplay for the Superman movie that never went anywhere? I bet his wasn't the only complete Superman treatment that languished in the vaults), they wouldn't be buying it secretly because nobody cares about the publicity of hiring/firing someone as anonymous, to the greater public, as Joss.

What I really think is that someone at WB read the spec, saw an idea they liked in it and decided to quietly buy it so as to get the rights to it. Throwing money around like this isn't considered wasteful on a project like this, even if the idea isn't used. Now I just wonder how/if Joss can incorporate the idea into his script.
You know I have tried to stay positive about Wonder Woman because Joss is writing it and anything he writes, I'll watch.
That being said, IMO, Joss's own creation, BUFFY, blows the tall vixen away. Buffy is, was and will always be, way more interesting, heartfelt and captivating.
I know some will disagree but even Spiderman, Batman, Fantastic Four, etc...all pale in comparrison to Joss Whedon/Sarah Michelle Gellar's Buffy.
I know Joss's WW will rock on but for this fan, It doesn't get any better than Buffy. Never will.
The idea of a WWII period WW sounds kinda cool.
Having worked at Silver Pictures awhile back, I can affirm that this definitely is strange.

Standard procedure is to refuse to look at any scripts based on material that the company owns.

Anyone can write a script on spec about anything and solicit it as a writing sample, so long as they use it to make money. However, if the company that owns the property accepts the submission and looks at it, the writer can sue them down the line and say "hey, you own Wonder Woman, but that's my Wonder Woman story, you stole it". Since most scripts based on the same pre-existing material are likely to go in a similar direction, it is extremely dangerous legally to open yourself up to this...and especially dumb if you already have a script you like.

I can't believe there's huge buzz about a writing sample by a couple of first-timers based on a property they don't own and is already being made. Either these writers have a very devoted buddy inside Silver who thought there was enough of an opening to take a risk, or two young guns were quietly hired without Joss knowing it, and now there's some political covering going on.

Either way, it doesn't sound very encouraging.

[ edited by mell on 2007-02-02 05:21 ]
If it's not Joss' project I'm not interested. Simple as that. Replacing Joss, or attempting to supplement his work, is basically sucking all quality from the project.

Methinks they aren't happy with Joss because he's quietly-behind-the-scenes not giving in to studio demands to dumb down his work and make it crappy so it will appeal to the general public.

Hold your ground, Joss! Hooooooooooooooold! If they fire you I'll love you even more for not altering your vision!
If it's not Joss' project I'm not interested. Simple as that. Replacing Joss, or attempting to supplement his work, is basically sucking all quality from the project.

The studio is looking for money, not quality.

Joss' first feature as writer/director - heaps of quality, no money.

Hollywood is littered with big screen projects that might have been great films, but were ruined by the system trying to make big bucks. WW is a possible *franchise* which makes it even more risky. Which is why Joss' take on it might not be commerical *enough* - though it's not like he makes "art house" things.
And all this angst seems to be born out of pure speculation with no facts. We know nothing. I'll wait to see what is really up then there will be angst. Or (I suspect) not.
This isn't the first time, and I know it won't be the last, but I have to say it again -- I just don't understand how Hollywood works. *shrugs*
The studio is looking for money, not quality.

That goes without saying, of course. Except they hired Joss, so I'm starting to think they didn't know who they hired. Of all they could have hired for the project, he's probably the most qualified to write a compelling story about a female hero and the least likely to cast someone like Angelina Jolie.
First, none of us know what goes on in the minds of studio executives. There are probably lots of legal things happening that we aren't aware of. I think gossi may have got it right when it was suggested that this script was already read and there might be elements they see in the other script or want to see in it. It's cheaper to buy a script than be sued for perceived infringements.

And, it might just mean they like the script and want to hold onto it in just in case.

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