Search the most comprehensive database of interviews and book signings from Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson and the rest of Team Jordan.
2012-04-30: I had the great pleasure of speaking with Harriet McDougal Rigney about her life. She's an amazing talent and person and it will take you less than an hour to agree.
2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."
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Ha! As for casting choices, I would direct curious parties to the threads on my forums about this topic. I can't really say who I'd pick, since it takes so long to make a movie. And, to be honest, I have trouble imagining ANY actor in my character roles. They are who they are in my head! An actor wouldn't be them to me.
Not that I wouldn't sell movie rights. Actually, we've had a few nibbles from various producers. As you've said, fantasy is hot. However, it's also very expensive to make a fantasy movie, so producers are wary about the projects they pick up. My kids' series, Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians, which starts this October with Scholastic, is probably the most likely to be made in the near future.
Do you think "movie potential" for your book is an important factor in the YA market?
I know this applies across the board, but many YA books are being given the book-to-movie treatment nowadays. As YA is an emerging market, it feels like many stories are lined up for their movie adaptation before they even hit the shelves.
Do you think that "movie potential" is more important for YA books? Do you think the YA market is being used as a vessel to more easily find big-bucks action movies?
I don't think that "movie potential" is more important for YA books, because movie deals are SO nebulous, and everyone in the business is very aware of that. Movie deals are often rather small, and remember, a movie deal =/= a movie, and movie deals are different from book deals in a few key ways: typically, with a book deal, you get an advance and then royalties when your advance earns out. With a movie deal, you get paid at each stage. They buy the rights; you get a small amount of money (and sometimes we're talking VERY small—like, maybe you could buy a used car small). They decide to buy a script, you get some money. They take the script into development, you get some money. They produce it, you get some money. So, movie deals CAN be lucrative—if they actually make the movie. But if they JUST buy the rights...not so much.
Now compare the number of books that have movie deals versus the number of books that are actually made into movies. Sure—there have been a lot of movies from YA books, but there are a LOT more without.
If I had the choice between just selling movie rights and selling to a larger foreign country, such as Germany or England or Brazil, I'd rather sell foreign. For most authors, foreign deals are far, far more lucrative than selling movie rights. (Exception: some high profile deals, movie rights sales that turn into movies.)
TL: DR: movie rights aren't important enough, nor are they guaranteed, to make writing a book for a movie worth it.
There ARE a lot of YA books-to-movies right now—I think this is more a reflection of the movie market, though, than the book market.
I think you are correct—that thinking of the movie potential isn't worth the effort—but for a different reason.
My experience is that the author can't do much to make film deals happen. Of the deals I've done for my books, in only one case was I able to go out and shop a property and sell it. The other four times, everyone ignored our attempts to sell the books for film—until someone came to us. My impression of Hollywood has been that they want to find it on their own, not have you go to them pitching it.
Every one of my five deals has been an option agreement. For those who aren't aware, an option is kind of like a lease on a property. You do a big deal, but the producer/studio doesn't have to pay out the entire amount at first—instead they make an option payment, which is often somewhere around 5-10% of the buyout price. That lets them reserve the rights for a period (usually 12-18 months) where you can't sell it to anyone else. They usually have two chances to renew the option, and often the option money paid is deductible from the final buyout price if they decide to exercise their option to purchase.
The vast majority of film deals I hear about from friends are deals like this, with very few films actually being made. But that doesn't mean they can't be lucrative. If the buyout is 10k and you're getting 1k every 18mo...sure, that's not much. If the buyout is 500k, and you're getting 50k every 18mo though, it can make a nice supplemental income.
However, bethrevis is right—translation deals are far more plentiful, and far more reliable. Beyond that, I'd suggest that developing a story for its film potential can draw your attention away from writing the book the way it needs to be written.