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New Highs and New Lows for Originality

by Tom Benedek

Writing original features is a tough game. The bar keeps getting higher and higher. In fact, it may be so high that low clouds tend to obscure it from view for many -- including many of the best screenwriters in the world.

Here's the funny, bad news: The Los Angeles Times reported this week that Disney Studios won't be making original projects any time soon after thier dismal experience with The Lone Ranger. I consider this "news" a major low point -- perhaps THE BOTTOM. Not because The Lone Ranger tanked, or Disney will be gun shy for anything but sequels, remakes, Marvel masterpieces, or the next Star Wars. The big question and the big laugh for me is about why anybody would consider The Lone Ranger to be original material. It is at least the third reboot of this title. It was already a TV show, of course. And it was a film nobody went to see within the last 30 years. Original has a new definition and it is a bit... Mickey Mouse, shall I say.


The good news - the audiences are there for great writing and truly original material. For example: Django Unchained - a lively, unconventional, culturally volatile, funny, moving and highly entertaining movie made from original material: an original screenplay. Django was a blockbuster earlier this year-late last year, did hundreds of millions of dollars in business with its, I will say it again, original screenplay. Arguably, its writer-director, Quentin Tarantino, is a franchise. But his movies are always completely different from each other. People go to see them because they are fresh and extremely well-made. Bravo, QT. Hail to originality. True originality.

Next week, I am going to be taking a close look at how Quentin does some of what he does in a webinar through The Writers Store - The First 15 Pages Tarantino Style.

The Lone Ranger is dead.

Long live Quentin Tarantino. And true originality.

Tom Benedek wrote the screenplay for Cocoon, The Adventures of Pinocchio, and other films. In addition to teaching the craft of screenwriting, Tom has interviewed dozens of agents, managers, production execs, working screenwriters for his Network Hollywood class at He has written screenplays for Robert Zemeckis, Lawerence Kasdan, Lili Fini Zanuck and Richard Zanuck, David Brown, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Sydney Pollack, Richard Rush, Harold Ramis, Lauren Schuler Donner and Richard Donner, Ray Stark, and many more.


The First 15 Pages Tarantino Style

Screenwriting Webinar from The Writers Store


At a Glance:

  • This webinar is for anyone who wants to gain understanding of how Tarantino builds out his storytelling
  • Learn specific style techniques for your opening script pages
  • Discover ways to build out more powerful scripts