Monday, October 10, 2016

New Direction for InSight: Movies

it's been two years since my last published post on this blog. I've countless drafts, but never pushed the button.


I came to the conclusion that chasing a career as a Hollywood screenwriter is a great dream, but not a dream worth chasing. I married and became a father, I started writing prose - all three more fullfilling than dreaming of Hollyood.

I published six novellas in those two years; hundreds of people have read my words. A success I would never see writing screenplays.

But my love for movies hasn't changed. So, what will I do with this blog, that has over 150.000 views already?

I will focus solely on fantasy / science-fiction books and their possible adaptation to the big screen, just like I already have done in the past.

Hollywood mines the book shops instead of buying original screenplays, so this step is only logical for this blog.

Have a great day!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Book to Movie: Codex Alera - The Furies of Calderon

Cover of Furies of Calderon
In the realm of Alera, where people bond with the furies-elementals of earth, air, fire, water and metal, fifteen-year-old Tavi struggles with his lack of furycrafting. But when his homeland erupts in chaos - when rebels war with loyalists and furies clash with furies - Tavi's simple courage will turn the tides of war. (Source: Goodreads)

Could it be a good movie?
In my opinion, the "Pokemon" meets "Lost Roman Legion" Fantasy Book could translate pretty well to the big screen. A future writer would have to trim down overtly dragging scenes in the middle part of the book. I really liked the down-to-earth fantasy, which should mirror in a classic movie direction.
My best comparison would be: Avatar - The Last Airbender, both have mythical powers connected to the elements; both world take heavy influence from real history, Ancient China and Ancient Rome, respectively. 
The comparison already shows the trap of a possible film adaptation: this is not for little children. The source material, the TV show and the book, deal with adult themes and dark decisions in a light world, nonetheless should you dumb it down - the audience will punish you for it.

The Last Airbender Movie Poster
Ne Ro over at Pinterest has created a Casting Sheet; head over there and tell me if you agree or not. Some Stars include Nicole Kidman, Ellen Page, Ralph Fiennes and Gerard Butler.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

From Book to Movie: The Rithmatist - Brandon Sanderson's Harry Potter

The Rithmatist Book Cover

The Fantasy Author's best bet for a sucessful movie franchise?


More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Chosen by the Master in a mysterious inception ceremony, Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings—merciless creatures that leave mangled corpses in their wake. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.

As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students learn the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing — kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery, one that will change Rithmatics — and their world — forever. (Source:

Why would this be a good movie?

Movies sell, when they are like other, sucessful movies - but a little bit different. 
The Rithmatist could fill the void left by the end of the Harry Potter saga. The books are the same in that they both play largely at a school for magic. This is the greatest in for every marketing director... But the similarities end right there, because Joel can not use magic - but this doesn't stop him from investigating the kidnappings. 
The Rithmatist plays in an alternative history of the United States, which consists of several islands connected by a train network, making for a great, interesting setting.
But, and that is the most important aspect, the story pulls the reader through the book without letting go. The plot is intriguing, layered and exciting - and would transport without effort onto the silver screen.
Another nice bonus: the budget is rather manageable. There are only a few key roles to be cast, no huge sets or battles. If this is a blockbuster, his other books are just waiting to be turned into movies.

Who should direct it? Who should play in it?

Director: Gil Kenan (Monster House, City of Ember) could bring the right visual appeal and YA'ness to it. Right now he is in Post-Production on the Poltergeist-Remake.

Joel: Our young protagonist could be played by Tom Holland (not to be confused with Tom Hollander), best known from The Impossible. I think he has the right naive determination his role needs.

Melody Muns: The clumsy, girl who is a Rithmatist, but not very good at it, could be played by the great Maisie Williams, who stunned everybody on Games of Thrones.

Andrew Nalizar: The arrogant, brash young professor with a secret, should be played by fan-favourite Tom Hiddleston. He can switch between dangerously cunning and charming like no one else.

Professor Fitch: Reduced to the lowest rank after a lost match against Nalizar, Fitch is only a shadow of his former self. Nonetheless, he wants to help those poor missing kids. My dream actor would be Kevin Spacey. He has never done Fantasy - or much genre at all - and would really kill the distraught, unwilling mentor figure in a world he doesn't really understand anymore. 

That's it! Have a great week!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Pacific Rim Box-Office Recap

Del Toro, by Gage Skidmode.

- or: The Power of the chinese movie market -


back in May 2012 I wrote a review of the Pacific Rim Script. You might recall, that I wasn't thrilled. Now that I saw the movie I wanted to see how well it dit, box-office-wise.
My prognosis was that the movie might bomb. Well, did it?

Thanks to The-Numbers, we know that the movie earned $100mill domestically, which comes as close to bombing as possible, considering the production budget of nearly $200mill. Add to that another $200mill for Marketing and you have a real desaster. 

But why then, is there talk of "Pacific Rim 2"? Sources like Slashfilm hint at a sequel, being written right now.

We have to look overseas for an answer.

Internationally, Pacific Rim earned $300mill. The foreign box-office, especially in China, which is the strongest growing market for movies, can make or break movies nowadays. In the example of Pacific Rim, approx. a third of the foreign box-office came from China. More precisely, $111mill - according to Box Office Mojo. That is more than the domestic market!

Other movies, for example Iron Man 3 earned $120mill, starting a new trend in Hollywood. Usually, movies had to earn back their budget domestically, with the foreign box-office as a nice bonus. Now, Hollywood has to take the foreign box-office - and especially China - into account, when they green-light movies. 

The dependence might actually stem from another problem. As I analyzed in another blog post, genre movies are getting more expensive. Ten years ago, the cost for an average fantasy movie was around $60mill. Today the median budget is $120mill. This means, to break even, a movie must sell twice the amount of movie tickets. Quite impossible, I think, as the population of the USA hasn't doubled in the last 10 years.

In order to make a profit, Hollywood is dependent on the foreign market. 

And it is this foreign market, Hollywood hopes to cater to with a sequel to Pacific Rim.

See you and have a nice day!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Book to Movie: Rivers of London (Midnight Riot) by Ben Aaronovitch

3,93 Stars of 5 by 10,912 ratings (Goodreads)

"What would happen if Harry Potter grew up and joined the Fuzz?" - Diana Gabaldon

The novel centres around the adventures of Peter Grant, a young officer in the Metropolitan Police; who, following an unexpected encounter with a ghost, is recruited into the small branch of the Met that deals with magic and the supernatural.
Peter Grant, having become the first English apprentice wizard in fifty years, must immediately deal with two different but ultimately inter-related cases. In one he must find what is possessing ordinary people and turning them into vicious killers, and in the second he must broker a peace between the two warring gods of the River Thames (Source: Wiki)

Will it be a good series?
In June news broke, that Feel Films (London based production company, that holds the rights for Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell) has optioned Rivers of London for television. (Source: DenOfGeek)
I expect, that one series/season with roughly four to six episodes will tell the story of one book. My answer:
Yes, it will be a good series, due to the combination of fantasy elements with the traditional crime genre. It has a great plot, like-able and interesting characters as well as heaps of fantasy. British television has hit a streak right now (Doctor Who, Downton Abby, Luther, Sherlock) - which brings up the hope for a great Rivers of London series.
But why not a movie? 
The visuals and scope do not necessarily demand the high-budget of a movie, and I think, that more time to develop the characters and the story will actually help the finished product. 
Another reason why a movie company will never ever make a movie based on the books (even if there were no television series) is the simple fact, that we saw something similar bomb at the box-office: R.I.P.D.
With an estimated budget of $130 Million the Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds led movie only earned $70 Million in the world-wide box office. The greatest similarity of course is the formula: cops + fantasy. In theory that sounds good, but the script had many problems as I wrote two years ago. The protagonist was bland, the motivation unclear and the ending really unsatisfaying. For the next few years the "cop + fantasy" idea will be avoided in Hollywood like the plague. 
One of the victims could have been a possible Rivers of London adaption, but thankfully we will get a series.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Rising Cost of Fantasy

Distant worlds with exotic creatures, epic battles, larger-than-life villains - all that comes to mind, when we think about fantasy movies. Fantasy - like Science Fiction - opens up a world of dreams, like a keyhole into everything imaginable.

I wondered, why are there so few fantasy movies? I took a look at the box office statistics of the last years to find a reason, and I think, I found one. The following graph shows the Median Budget of General Fiction Movies for this year (Blue) and the Median Budget for Fantasy Movies (Orange) in millions.

What can we see? 
The average budget of general fiction movies roughly stays the same over the last 17 years with numbers between 60 and 80 Million Dollars. But the orange line slowly rises, as we can see, from 30 Million to 120 Million. The budget of fantasy movies has quadrupled in the same period of time. 

What does that mean?
Fantasy is expensive. For the cost of one fantasy movie the studio could make two non-fantasy movies - that would mean two streams of revenue for the studio. Remember, big budget movies are not a guarantee to earn back the cash (as Disney learned once again with The Lone Ranger, after their failure with John Carter). So it's a rough game to play for every studio.

But why are studios willing to produce big budget movies?
Foremost studios want to earn money. So if they invest a lot of money, they must hope to earn a lot of money. 
In the second graph, the orange line still shows the rise of the average budget of fantasy movies. The blue line shows the share of fantasy movies in the annual box-office (in percent, see left).

What can we see?
It is eye-catching, that both lines rise in near perfect harmony. Starting with only 1 - 10 % of the box-office share, the line slowly rises until it crosses the 20% mark. In effect, the share of revenue has more than doubled in 17 years. 
That's why studios are willing to pay huge amounts of money: the market hungers for fantasy and they want their piece of the box-office pie.

In the last decade the demand for fantasy movies slowly rose and created a new, big market for Hollywood. Consequently, studios greenlight high budgets in the hope to create a huge hit.
But studios can not produce dozens of high budget movies every year, they concentrate on a few, select tent-poles.

(all data comes from, visualized by me)

Friday, August 2, 2013

Book to Movie: The Lies of Locke Lamora

The Lies of Locke Lamora Book Cover ArtBook to Movie:

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

(4,24 Stars of 5 with 31,201 Ratings -

Elite con artists "Gentlemen Bastards" rob the rich of Camorr city, based on late medieval Venice. Two stories interweave. In the present, the Gentlemen fight a mysterious Grey King taking over the criminal underworld. Alternate chapters describe history and mythology of Camorr, the Gentlemen Bastards, and especially the protagonist Locke Lamora.(Source: Wiki)

Born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora dodges both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains, neither blind nor a priest. A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected family of orphans “Gentlemen Bastards.”

Locke grows to lead, delightedly pulling off one outrageous trick after another, infamous as the Thorn of Camorr — no wealthy noble is safe from his sting. But the Gray King is slowly killing Capa Barsavi’s most trusted men and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr’s underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the magically protected Gray King at his own brutal game — or die trying
(Source: Goodreads)

by Milena Aijala (a.k.a. qwertyprophecy)
The ingredients are there:
Oceans 13 Jr. meets Pirates of the Carribean
- an engaging plot, full of twists and turns
- interesting characters
- a fantasy world with a mythical history

All the movie needs is a creative, fearless cook, or in other words, a capable director. This is a rather broad statement, I know, every movie needs a good director. The one needed for Locke Lamora, has to be incredibly visual. The world of Camorr - based on Renaissance Venice - is stunningly wonderful and rich.
The challenge would be to reduce the dense plot to movie-length without losing the charm and wit of the book.

Warner Brothers bought the film rights soon after the book's release. The brothers Kevin and Dan Hageman (both having written the upcoming Lego and the sequel Hotel Transylvania 2) were to write the screenplay. Michael De Luca (Moneyball, The Social Network) and Julie Yorn (Red Riding Hood, We bought a Zoo) are set to produce. Both don't have much experience with fantasy works, which could prove difficult. 
Despite additional television rumors, as of 2013, no casting or other announcements have been released. (Source: Wiki)

Film or TV?
Definitely the first! I suggest a movie adaptation, because the single thread of storytelling revolving around Locke Lamora probably couldn't sustain multiple episodes. But with 6 (SIX!) planned sequels (plus two upcoming novellas) "The Lies of Locke Lamora" could prove to be the opening to a stellar franchise. 

Casting Possibilities:

Max Irons as Locke LamoraMax Irons - Locke Lamora
He proved to be a big hit with the girls in Stephanie Meyer's Twilight and The Host, which could attract more viewers. Irons has the right mix of cunning and charm to portrait the leader of the "Gentleman Bastards".

Jack Reynor as Jean TannenJack Reynor - Jean Tannen
The muscle to Locke's Brain, Jean is intimidating and strong. The upcoming star had a few indie hits and now moved on to star in the 4th Transformer movie.

Jeremy Irons - The Grey King
He is the main adversary; the brains behind the dangerous plots Locke finds himself tangled in. Fuelled my motives he is initially unwilling to reveal, the Grey King is ruthless but aristocratic in his mannerisms. (Source: Incidentally he is the father of actor Max Irons, which adds a great dynamic to the movies. Jeremy has a great, commanding presence with the right gravitas to the play the Grey King. 

Christian Bale - The Falconer
Perhaps the most formidable adversary in LoLL. The Falconer is a bondsmage from Karthain with otherworldly magical power, able to inflict extraordinary pain with just a few words and gestures. He is an arrogant, forbidding individual who takes obvious pleasure in the torture of others and works for the Grey King. He also has a bird companion, Vestral, whose violent nature and venom-filled claws augment the Falconer’s formidable presence. (Source: Bale has strong ties with Warner Bros (The Dark Knight Trilogy, etc) and is a great property to attract viewers. Bale has the right ambiguity and "evil-ness" to play this great role.

Francis Lawrence - Director
Lawrence proved over and over, that he is a great storyteller with a keen eye for heavy visuals with his movies Constantine or I am Legend. This was the reason he was chosen to adapt the second and third book in the Hunger Games Saga, Catching Fire and Mockingjay.