Hollywood has always been driven by intellectual property, but it's on the rise now.
The only thing the pandemic has done is give people plenty of free time. They use this time to catch up on shows, read, and make sourdough bread. Same goes for Hollywood, where executives have finally done their homework.
A recent article published in the Los Angeles Times shows this A bigger trend that played out during the COVID-19 pandemic: an increase in the number of offers for studios to adapt books for film and television. The article goes on to say, "The studios have gobbled up the rights to hundreds of novels and non-fiction books that they hope will underpin future hits."
This trend is due to people being at home and having time to read.
And the numbers prove it.
So far in 2020, CAA has packaged and sold around 175 book titles for film and television. That's five times the agency's volume over the same period in 2019. WME and United Talent Agency also reported significant jumps in the number of books sold.
Is it really just because people have time to read?
CAA and WME are the last remaining agencies that have not come to terms with the WGA. That is, they no longer represent writers. With no scripts to wrap around (and while packaging is frowned upon), they've focused all their efforts on selling books in studios.
Intellectual property is always a hit with studios because it already has an audience.
The more popular the book, the more valuable it is to the studios.
However, this is not the case with every genre. Fantasy and YA often have a hard time finding a home because the films based on them can be expensive and only appeal to niche audiences. You have to be a very popular book to find a home.
Much of these numbers are also not sales, but options or small fees paid for rights to sell the property to large studios while it was being packed.
Still, reading helped.
Michelle Weiner, CAA book director, said, "We've seen an extraordinary increase in volume over the past five to six months … There are directors and actors and creators and producers who have suddenly become available without notice."
She continued "We had more examples of something being pitched on a Monday and sold by Friday than ever before." It reflects both the bandwidth and the parallel appetite of buyers to keep their development plans robust. "
The LA Times is expanding that. You spoke with us Jill Gillett and Sylvie Rabineau, co-heads of literary packaging at WME.
"There has always been a response that writers are very valuable to their material and cannot be trusted to adapt their own work or be involved in the process, and I think we have proven everyone is wrong," said Rabineau. "That pendulum has really swung where most studios and producers absolutely appreciate the services a writer can provide, even beyond the underlying material."
When people get back to the sets and decide which movies and TV shows will be popular for the next year, these books will lead the way and check out which project people should be betting on. This heavy buying of IP could pay off, but at some point this bubble will burst.
People will crave original ideas, but who knows if agencies and studios will ever prefer them.