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Butler's Script Sale of the Week...

Another fairly busy week for sales, although I was more impressed by last week's projects. The Chuck Yeager Biopic could be cool if the right people get involved. THE UNITED STATES OF LELAND sounds intriguing, as does DRIVING MR. ALBERT. THE INTERPRETER seems like a great premise for a suspense film.

My pick this week is Paramount Pictures's acquisition of the rights to the Marvel Comic title, DEATHLOK, but not because I think it's a good idea.

DEATHLOK, the story of a suburban family man who turns into a computer, is a little too close in concept to HARD BOILED, the graphic novel by Frank Miller that Warner Bros. announced it is adapting with David Fincher at the helm.

HARD BOILED was my pick last week. I thinks it's a great idea with a great team behind it. So why do I think the DEATHLOK deal sucks?

I haven't heard anything about DEATHLOK. I never read it and I don't know anything about the two screenwriters (Stu Zickerman and Raven Mentzner) hired to adapt. What I do know about is the extreme insecurity of Hollywood executives that causes them to develop projects that are similar to their competitors. We've seen this sickness before, most recently with ARMAGEDDON (1998) vs. DEEP IMPACT (1998).

The fear factor is not just a Joe Rogan meal ticket. It's also the driving force behind many studio decisions. Hollywood changes executives more often than I change my underwear (and I'm extremely hygienic). Rather than try to develop an original idea, the hacks at the controls look to what their rivals are doing and quickly copy it, lest they be blown out of the water by the "idea of the moment".

How else to explain the development of DEATHLOK a week after the announcement of the high concept, high profile HARD BOILED? The hacks don't even have any "names" attached to DEATHLOK, although you can expect an announcement soon that the likes of a Sena or West are attached to direct with the likes of a Travolta, Schwarzenegger, or Willis likely to star.

David Fincher, the soon to be director of HARD BOILED, doesn't take his projects lightly. I'm sure his decision to take on DEATHLOK was well thought out. He responded to it in such a way that he's willing to dedicate his creative energy to the project.

I'm afraid the only response associated with DEATHLOK is of the knee-jerk variety. Sad.

-- Edward Butler

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