Creating Blockbusters by Gene Del Vecchio


Creating Blockbusters
by Gene Del Vecchio
Wow! This was a great talk. (Cue a dozen more exclamation points.) It was so great that I bought his book ten minutes into the talk. Unfortunately, I had to leave early to give a pitch, and I wasn't able to capture even a quarter of the data Gene shared, but this should give you the flavor of the talk. Buy the book
  • Has done 30 years of consumer research
  • Does pilot episode research
  • 3 research studies just on Pirates of the Caribean
  • Research like “What does an audience want the protagonist to overcome?”
  • Most entertainment fails
    • most books don’t make back their advance
    • most tv shows/movies bomb
    • 5% of the movies make 90% of the profits
    • audiences tell us why stories disappoint
      • 59% say the story was boring
      • 50% say it was just stupid
      • 39% say it was not funny enough
      • 32% say not enough action
      • 23% say the characters were not relatable or aspiring
  • The analysis
    • decades of blockbusters
  • biggest movie franchises
    • harry potter, batman, pirates of Caribbean, star wars, james bond, shrek, lord of the rings, spider-man, transformers, jurassic park
  • blockbusters connect with the kid in all of use
    • one approach: take a child-like idea and make it edgy enough for adults, too.
  • The Gremlins: first PG-13 movie. Spielberg lobbied for it. Wanted to make a child-like movie that was edgy enough for adults.
  • The 11 Principles
    • 1: satisfy deep emotional needs
    • 2: align with ontemporary culture and trends
    • 3: create relatable, aspiring, memorable characters
    • 4: generate compelling story ideas
    • 5: add broad audience appeal
    • 6: build in elements that make it a franchise
    • 7: fix common execution problems
    • 8: create marketable artistry
    • 9: apply the ever-cool formula
    • 10: use research to optimize decisions
    • 11: launch an idea quest
  • Lucas made 4x the money on merchandise than he ever made on movies
  • “Marketing is ingrained in what you are writing”. It doesn’t come later.
  • satisfy deep emotional needs
    • chart with Maslov’s hierarchy of needs: physical needs, safety, love and belonging, esteem, self-actualization
    • slide showed chart:
      • jurassic park: survival
      • princess bride: love and belonging
      • esteem: breakfast club
      • self-actualization: bad news bears
      • best of the best: do all of them
        • avatar
        • star wars
    • Audience opinion
      • highest four things audience wanted to see:
        • survive life and death: 53%
        • be brave: 49%
        • fulfill full potential: 45%
        • find love w/ family/friends: 45%
        • stop evil: 43%
        • get respect: 39%
    • Character transformation
      • emotional
        • unconfident to confident
        • shy to bold
        • cowardice to bravery
        • selfish to selfless
        • unloved to loved
      • physical
      • Audience
        • weak to strong: 53%
        • helpess to survivor: 44%
        • loser to winner
        • coward to brave
        • no love to love
        • boring to exiting
        • no friends to some
    • Fears for protagonist to face:
      • death: 36%
      • personal injury: 35%
      • war: 30%
      • kidnapping: 30%
      • losing friends: 29%
      • being alone: 29%
      • kid’s biggest fear: public humiliation. even more than death!
  • Align with contemporary culture/trends
    • Successes
      • Monopoly was invented during the great depression wen people needed the get-rich fantasy
      • Barbie was introduced when little girl’s career fantasies were about to explode
      • Harry Potter released with interest in magic and fantasy growing
    • Trends
      • Technology/VR
      • total immersion
      • social networking
      • the great recision
      • natural disaster
      • environmental sensitivity
    • Pop culture
      • environmental
      • culture
  • Character archetypes
    • hero type
      • ultimate hero: superman
      • hero in training: luke skywalker, harry potter
      • everyday heros: soldiers, police
      • bombling heroes: maxwell smart, austin powers
    • nemeses
      • ultimate evil: darth vader, voldemort, sharks
      • bumbling evil: dr. evil from austin powers
      • bully: biff from back to the future
      • non-human: storms, disease, fire
    • ...
  • characters in conflict
    • hero vs. nemesis
    • good/innocent vs. bad/unscrupulous
    • conformist vs revel
    • responsible vs. irresponsible
    • moral compass vs. morally challenged
    • striver vs. detrctor
  • iconic characters
    • warrior
    • king
  • audience:
    • spy/secret agent: 40% (#1 for kids)
    • vampire/werewolf: 35%
    • wizard, witch: 35%
    • adventureer/treasure hunter: 34%
    • mom/dad/kid: 34% (#2 for kids, #1 for women)
    • warrior/solder: 32%
    • mythics gods
    • scientist and inventor
    • bride/groom, boy/girlfriend: 24% (#2 for women)
  • creating compelling story
    • lots of different types of conflicts:
      • man vs. man
      • man vs. society
      • man vs. supernatural
      • man vs. machines/technology
      • man vs. nature
      • man vs. self
    • the best stories have ALL of these
  • morals
    • is there a deeper truth? a moral of the story? some virtue?
    • the best movies have these:
      • the wizard of oz: we all have what we need inside us
      • ...
  • broad audience appeal
Post a Comment