Which Screenwriting Genres Sell…and Which Ones Don’t? – by Mark Heidelberger

Which Screenwriting Genres Sell…and Which Ones Don’t? – by Mark Heidelberger

Effective screenwriting features many challenges, not least of all the creation of compelling storylines, engaging characters, and relevant themes. But, the savvy screenwriter also has to consider what makes a film marketable and, by extension, valuable to a distributor. Among the most important of those considerations is genre. To be clear, not all genres are created equal. Several have a much better track record of selling well in the modern marketplace than others.

Here’s a rundown of the best and worst screenplay genres, according to global buyer interest, along with a brief examination of why. First, the best.

Broad Action

Shoot-em-ups, car chases, explosions, daredevil stunts – all of these things elicit the same thrill from audiences everywhere, regardless of country, because there are no language or cultural barriers that prevent comprehension. In addition, higher production costs for action has left a dearth in the low-budget marketplace, thereby increasing demand.

Disaster

Films that focus on large-scale catastrophes have proven to be box office gold. The calamity can be natural (earthquakes, floods, etc.) or man-made; local or global; and rooted in drama, science fiction or even the supernatural. The draw is based on movie-goers’ attraction to spectacle and the high cost of visual effects makes the genre similarly rare.

Children’s Films

G-rated movies are accessible to the widest audience pool, and often attract families with young kids. Parents don’t have to be concerned about inappropriate content, and often purchase rather than rent because they expect to watch these films multiple times. Stories with kids or animals in lead roles have the greatest appeal as they prove most relatable to tykes.

Faith

Christian films have an enormous and underserved audience craving content that focuses on moral, God-centered messages. Faith is often overlooked in favor of “sexier” genres but viewer loyalty, low budget requirements, and scant marketplace competition create a perfect storm for profitability.

Femme Thrillers

The American cable TV market has fortified the demand for thrillers with female leads, also known as “women-in-peril” films, but this demand has expanded overseas as well. Female audiences are a significant driver of box office revenues, and yearn to see strong women in roles that task them with overcoming domineering male figures. And, like action, thrills translate well across territories.

Rom Coms

The universality of romantic relationships increases global interest in this genre but, since female audiences also drive these films, distributors seek stories with female leads, or those told from a woman’s point of view. Relatable protagonists and attractive male conquests satisfy a sense of wish fulfillment in viewers.

On the flip side, distributors tend to shy away from certain genres for a number of reasons. Some of the most prominent examples might be surprising.

Broad Drama

Dramas typically require a strong hook (i.e., based on an interesting real-life person) and an expensive A-list cast to generate box office heat. Moreover, most foreign markets boast their own local film industry that produces films with local stars catering to local audiences, making for excessive competition.

Period

Stories occurring in some historical time and place often require large amounts of cash to properly capture the period, many of which do not hold much appeal to general audiences, And, like dramas, they often need big names to generate interest, creating an unacceptable risk/reward profile to most buyers.

Broad Comedy

The subjectivity of comedy means it’s unlikely to properly translate across territories. Jokes and gags are often based on cultural references so what’s funny to audiences in one country is unlikely to be funny to audiences in another.

Dark Comedy

By extension, dark comedies are even more of a challenge to market than broad comedies because they’re rooted in dramatic irony, tragic endings, and a variety of narrative subtleties that make them far less accessible to broad audiences.

Western

If there was one distinctly American genre, it would have to be the American Western. But, with that badge of honor comes the downside – a genre rooted in historical and cultural references that don’t mean much to audiences outside the U.S.

Horror

Many indie filmmakers turn to low-budget horror as an access point to the film industry.  But, it’s exactly that reason that the marketplace has been flooded with horror flicks, making them far less desirable to distributors. Additionally, name actors often avoid this genre for fear of being stigmatized.

RELATED

Writing an Effective Screenplay Query By Mark Heidelberger

What Do You Have to Do to Get a Break In This Town? (or How to Sell Your Screenplay) By David William Cabrera

How Do I Get Someone To Consider My Screenplay?

How to Successfully Query Your Sitcom Spec Scripts Over the Phone By Brad Manzo

Ten Sure-Fire Themes to Effectively Use in Your Sitcom Spec Script By Peter J. Fogel

Mark Heidelberger began writing professionally in 2009 and has since had more than 1,200 articles published online and in print. He specializes in travel, entertainment, finance, tech and business-related content. His work has appeared in a diverse array of publications, including USA Today, AZ Central, Houston Chronicle, LA Examiner, The Nest Woman, Livestrong, Dollar Stretcher and the Global Business Centers blog. He has worked as a film and TV producer for 20 years, served as a literary manager for eight years, and has also ghostwritten or rewritten numerous feature film screenplays.



90+ DAYS OF PROMOTING YOUR BOOK ONLINE: Your Book's Daily Marketing Plan by Angela Hoy and Richard Hoy



Promoting your book online should be considered at least a part-time job. Highly successful authors spend more time promoting a book than they do writing it - a lot more.

We know what you're thinking. You're an author, not a marketer. Not to worry! We have more than a decade of successful online book selling experience under our belts and we're going to teach you how to promote your book effectively online...and almost all of our techniques are FREE!

Online book promotion is not only simple but, if you have a step-by-step, day-to-day marketing plan (this book!), it can also be a very artistic endeavor, which makes it fun for creative folks like you!

Yes, online book promoting can be EASY and FUN! Let us show you how, from Day 1 through Day 90...and beyond!

BOOK PROPOSALS THAT WORKED! Real Book Proposals That Landed $10K - $100K Publishing Contracts - by Angela Hoy



Peek over the shoulders of highly successful, published authors to see how they landed publishing contracts worth $10,000 to $100,000! An enticing yet professional book proposal is the key!

BONUS! Successful ghostwriter, Anton Marco, shares his secret for landing ghostwriting clients. Don’t miss Anton’s real ghostwriting contract at the end of this book! It provides an example of what he charges and the payment terms he requires from each client.

7.625 STRATEGIES IN EVERY BEST-SELLER - Revised and Expanded Edition


At this moment, thousands of would-be authors are slaving away on their keyboards, dreaming of literary success. But their efforts won’t count for much. Of all those manuscripts, trade book editors will sign up only a slim fraction.

And of those titles--ones that that editors paid thousands of dollars to contract, print and publicize--an unhealthy percentage never sell enough copies to earn back their advances. Two years later, most will be out of print!

Acquisition Editor Tam Mossman shares seven essentials every book needs to stay in print, and sell!



Read more here:


http://writersweekly.com/books/5635.html







So, You Wanna Be a Ghostwriter - How To Make Money Writing Without a Byline


Many freelance writers find it difficult to break into the publishing world. What they don't know, however, is that there's a faster and easier way to see their words in print. It's called ghostwriting, and it's an extremely lucrative, fun, and challenging career.

But how do you get started as a ghostwriter? How do you find new clients who will pay you to write their material? How do you charge? And what kind of contracts do you need to succeed? All these questions and more are answered in So, You Wanna Be a Ghostwriter...How to Make Money Writing Without a Byline.

Read more here:
http://writersweekly.com/books/49.html







Writing FAST: How to Write Anything with Lightning Speed


A systematic approach to writing that generates better quality quickly!


Chock full of ideas, tips, techniques and inspiration, this down-to-earth book is easy to read, and even easier to apply. Let author Jeff Bollow take you through a process that brings your ideas to the page faster, more powerfully and easier than ever before.




Read more here:
http://writersweekly.com/books/3695.html









Make Sure Your Marketing is Targeted at the Right Audience



One Response to "Which Screenwriting Genres Sell…and Which Ones Don’t? – by Mark Heidelberger"

  1. jerry  May 15, 2020 at 11:41 am

    Does not agree with what other experts say. Could they all be guessing? Finances are a big concern and it is very hard for a new writer to sell a script for a big budget film. Contacts are very important in the film biz too. Without them, selling any script becomes harder.
    I suggest reading Reel to Deal by Dov S-S Simens for more insight.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.