This year’s hottest script closes in on leading man.
The biggest deal for a spec script this year was the $3 million that Sony Pictures lavished upon James Vanderbilt for his Die Hard-in-the-White-House regurge, White House Down, due to start shooting later this year.
To the best of my knowledge, which is almost comically limited, there is no database yet in existence to search out what the highest-priced spec script for any given year, much less one that will allow the user to cross reference the script with the eventual gross of the film that was eventually made from that script. If there was, I’m guessing that the upper-echelon scripts in terms of price point don’t reflect anything in terms of a consistency of quality. For example, I’m guessing that the $1 million that David Mamet received for Glengarry Glen Ross was probably not the biggest dollar figure paid out to a writer for a film released in 1992.
Lacking that technological innovation, I was able to find this, which will tell you that the most money ever paid for a spec script was $5 million for the Denzel Washington vehicle, Déjà Vu, which is ironic in that nobody is ever likely to remember what it felt like to watch that film, even on a subconscious level.
A quick scroll down that list will tell you that duffel bags full of money will not necessarily buy you a top notch script, and is even less likely to buy you a box office smash. Mozart & the Whale, anyone? You mean to tell me somebody forked over almost $3 million for a script with an ampersand in the title, and then squandered it on Josh Hartnett? Guh.
So what could there possibly be within the pages of a screenplay about terrorists taking over the White House that would make a studio exec set down his coke mirror long enough to…well, maybe it does make sense.
In this case, it appears the role of Josh Hartnett may be played by Channing Tatum, for whom I had no hope until I saw him stealing scenes from Jonah Hill in 21 Jump Street, and for whom my future expectations will likely now dwindle back down to zero. Tatum is in talks to play the role of a secret service agent who turns out to be America’s last hope for blah blah blah blah blah, according to Deadline.
White House Down will be directed by Roland Emmerich, who sits on the bench behind Michael Bay on my fantasy roster of schlock makers of empty cinematic spectacles. The film will have a massive budget, suck horribly, and go on to do well on DVD.