Does Netflix’s Acquisition of “Kate” Signal an Impending Spec Script Boom?

On Thursday, Netflix announced that it was giving a $25 million production commitment to Kate, a female-centric action thiriller from the producers of John Wick and Atomic Blonde.

As Deadline reported, this news comes after Netflix honcho Ted Sarandos revealed that the streaming service plans to create 80 feature films in 2018.

Yes, you read right. Eighty.

Netflix“There is aggressive progress to production language in the deal and the project eyes a start date in April as Netflix quickly searches for the right director and star,” writes Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr., who adds, “I expect to see more of these kinds of deals, which traditionally get low to mid six-figures from studios that put them in development that can often take years to yield results, if they even get made. The market for material seems bound to change. If Netflix — which hasn’t been making original films long enough to have accumulated a backlog of development projects — is going to generate an annual volume three or four times what major studios do under film chief Scott Stuber, it can only rely so much on festival acquisitions. It will need good material fast, and so these kinds of deals on scripts that Netflix brass feels confident can be packaged should become more commonplace.”

This isn’t the first time Netflix has done this, either. They also picked up David Ayer‘s Bright, starring Will Smith as a cop in a world where humans and fairy-tale creatures co-exist, for a cool $90 million. Bright was scripted by Max Landis.

Now, y’all know I’m a writer. And y’all know I’m trying to break into the notoriously difficult-to-break-into world of screenwriting. If streaming services — with Netflix leading the charge — are looking to acquire new and original IPs, does this mean we are on the precipice of a spec script boom?

I mean, we haven’t seen any sort of frenzy for original feature-film material since 2008.

And look, I’m not under the impression that every sale will be a seven-figure windfall a la Shane Black or Brian Helgeland or Joe Eszterhas. But if these companies are looking for material — EIGHTY films in 2018?! — then the offers are going to be there. And the competition will make offers, too. And that, to my virgin eyes, looks to me like opportunity.

“The town is already talking about this deal and its possible ramifications,” Fleming writes, noting that, “for screenwriters, this kind of deal is an alternative to the development hell that often befalls specs and pitches.”

🤔

If y’all will pardon me, I have a couple of spec scripts I need to begin working on.

What are your thoughts on Netflix’s Kate deal and the potential ramifications it will have on the spec script market and the industry in general? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.

Author: Jay Fingers

Complications arose, ensued, were overcome. | Novelist. Editor. Journalist. Screenwriter.

2 thoughts on “Does Netflix’s Acquisition of “Kate” Signal an Impending Spec Script Boom?”

  1. I think it bodes well for screenwriters, though I’m cautious to get too excited. There are plenty of established screenwriters with great credits who are also looking for their next break. It’ll take some excellent specs to compete not only with each other, but more importantly, with those established writers. That being said, this is still good news and motivation enough to polish up those scripts and get started on new ones.

    1. Hmm, you know, I didn’t even think about the established writers. I figured they’d be busy with their own assignments and what not, but you’re absolutely right. This opens the spec market up to them as well — probably even more so.

      But yes, this is still all good news and certainly motivation for me to get off my ass and get my own specs into great shape. 😉

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