David Seidler spent decades readying "The King's Speech" for the screen. Sure, he had to wait for the queen mother to pass away before he could write with earnest but he knew a story of a king who stuttered wasn't going to have Hollywood knocking down his door even without that obstacle.
Same can be said for Christopher Nolan, who in between filming two Batman movies and "The Prestige," quietly worked on an ambitious, expensive action-thriller for 10 years before bringing the finished product to Warner Bros. And Stuart Blumberg and Lisa Cholodenko went through countless drafts of "The Kids Are All Right" during the five years it took for the financing to finally come together. Despite the interest of Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg, the journey of "The Fighter" was equally arduous, finally getting produced only when the budget came way down and an independent financier stepped up to make the movie.
The road to production is never an easy one, but it seems to be a lot more difficult if the project isn't based on a popular book, video game or toy. "An adaptation often has an easier road," says Seidler, who has been writing scripts for 30 years. "[The studio] has a security blanket with a book. 'We've optioned the book. It was a successful book. Now if the script doesn't turn out brilliantly, that's not my fault, that's the writer's fault.' "
But despite the hardships, the additional time spent on original screenplays often yields more satisfying results -- as evidenced, perhaps, by the Oscar nominations attached to the films mentioned above. And many writers today take more of the initiative themselves, often only approaching studios with their projects when they have an actor or a director already in place.
-- Nicole Sperling
Photo: "The King's Speech" writer David Seidler. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times