The A-Team: please don’t call them if you’re in trouble

Because this A-Team does not help people in trouble.  They’re only out for revenge.

This A-Team did not serve time in the same military unit and then escape from a prison camp, thus bonding them together for life. In fact…

The B-team.

This A-Team doesn’t make any sense, whatsoever.

And it just got pitied like a fool by The Karate Kid, which made DOUBLE its gross in their mutual opening weekend.

At this time last year, “The Hangover” and “Up” were going gangbusters at the box-office — both ORIGINAL scripts.

But, wait, The Karate Kid is also a remake of a piece of campy 80s material. So why did it fare so much better?

Before you opine, let’s take a look at a few recent press clippings…

Brandon Gray, Box-Office Mojo:
“Recently, knocks against Hollywood’s lack of originality have resonated more loudly than usual in light of the slow times at the box office. But this weekend demonstrated what’s really going on: general audiences aren’t that hung up on whether something’s a retread or not; it’s the rote retreads that turn them off. The Karate Kid was a movie that did not rest on the laurels of its famous brand. It went all out with a grand and relatable underdog story… [and] took the time to set-up the story and characters. The A-Team, on the other hand, came off as a generically slick action picture with no story in its advertising, banking on the television show branding to distinguish it.”

Deadline Hollywood:
“There were 11 screenwriters who worked on [The A-Team]…to produce so little. This is not about whether the movie’s any good. It’s about yet another unoriginal movie idea emanating from Hollywood and how it was developed.”

The Hollywood Reporter:
“[The A-Team] seems nearly writer-free. Absolutely no time gets wasted on story, character development or logic.”

So the summer of thuds continues.

And I, unfortunately, paid money to see The A-Team in a theater.  And I can tell you that all of the above comments are dead-on.  The movie is a mess; but don’t blame the screenwriters, blame the producers and director who collated all of the cohesive drafts into an incoherent blob.

I pity the fool who doesn't understand story!

At this time last year, The Hangover and Up were going gangbusters at the box-office — both ORIGINAL scripts.

This year, the industry is reeling from your rejection of all the bad remakes, reboots and sequels that are crowding theaters.

…ever-increasing competition in home and mobile entertainment is causing a sea change: audiences want good stories, not just eye candy.

Take a look…

“…box office receipts were down a steep 23% compared to the same weekend last year.”

Peter Bart interviewing director Brett Ratner:
“We’re in a funny time now. Box-office so far this year is substantially down; a lot of the pictures are not quite cooking — you’re spending time with young people, NYU students.  Is this almost an instinctual reaction on your part that we need some fresh voices?”

Box-Office Mojo:
“…May 2010’s drop-off was so steep and its estimated attendance so far below the norm of the past eight years that it was alarming. The upshot is a reaffirmation that the box office is product-driven for the most part. That’s a positive sign: many people rejected or were indifferent to the current crop of movies, and that can be remedied in the future through the production of more compelling fare.”

MY TAKE: I think it’s clear that Hollywood needs us.

They will always need good stories and fresh characters and it’s not only obvious to us but… it’s starting to affect their bottom line like never before. Of course, they will still make the derivative drivel, but ever-increasing competition in home and mobile entertainment is causing a sea change: audiences want good stories, not just eye candy.

Have the movie studio execs seen TV lately?  How many great shows are waiting on our DVRs right now?  Would you rather sit at home and watch a marathon of Breaking Bad, Dexter, Mad Men or True Blood on your flatscreen or go out and spend $12.50 to see the likes of Killers, Get Him to the Greek or The A-Team?

The TV divisions are getting the message. There is a HUGE return to SCRIPTED TELEVISION with tons of pilots getting the greenlight for this fall. NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, AMC, FX, Spike TV, MTV, USA Network and more have all committed to new scripted shows. The volume of “reality” shows has dropped like a bag of hammers.

It turns out that people don’t want to see real people, they want to follow great CHARACTERS.

So give ’em some. There’s no time like now.

That’s why I’m readying one script for submission, Story Mapping my next one and encouraging writers to do their best work and get it out there. Now.

Don’t let the cavalcade of crap this summer get you down.

Let it inspire you to greatness. As always, I say…

Good luck and Happy Writing!

Dan Calvisi
Act Four Screenplays
Professional Story Consultation

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