How Marketable is Your Film Genre?

Dancing couple

Is the Musical Dead?

Understanding the importance of the genre of your screenplay is essential in determining whether your story gets sold. The popularity of certain film genres is in a constant state of flux with regards to Hollywood studios. According to screenwriting guru, Michael Hauge, some genres are currently hard to sell. If your story concept falls within one of those, your effort to acquire seed money from a major studio, will be that much harder.

Here, then, in increasing order of acceptability, are some of the genres in question:

Musicals in the mold of Oklahoma are almost impossible to sell. Feature-Length, MTV-inspired, Flashdance type movies, however, are not.

Westerns are currently a difficult sell, unless a big name director gets behind the project, as are period films, meaning anything pre-1970s, followed by biographies, and science fiction—due to the high budgets associated with this latter genre. Here, again, the attachment of a specific director to the project can make all the difference—as The Terminator, Aliens and Avatar directed by James Cameron, have clearly proven.

Perhaps the most acceptable of these financially-jittery genres is the horror film, especially if independent financing is sought.

Of course, in stating the above, I do not mean to say that films belonging to these genres never get made; only that they are not favoured by the big studios, off the bat.

By contrast, genres representing action adventure, suspense thriller, love story, comedy, drama or any combination thereof, tends to be viewed as a strong commodity by Hollywood. If your script belongs to any of those last genres, its marketability quotient is high.

Summary

Certain genres are easier to market to studios, and independent producers, than others. Choosing a poplar genre maximises the chance of a first-time writer achieving success.

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