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Old 06-23-2010, 02:49 AM   #1
LauriD
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Default How did a "first time" screenwriter end up writing a Tom Cruise movie?

http://movies.nytimes.com/2010/06/23...html?th&emc=th

"(both of them, gamely enunciating lines from a drab script by the first-timer Patrick O’Neill)"

OK, how did a "first-time" screenwriter end up writing a big budget Tom Cruise movie?

Guy's got a few actor credits and a TV writing credit from 2001 on a series called "Dead Last."

Was this a spec? And since every critic so far seems to agree that the script sucks as filmed, was it always like this or was it mangled in development?

As this is one of the rare big-budget non-franchise films of the season, it would be interesting to know how that script got sold.

Couldn't find anything in a quick google - someone want to do the research?

Last edited by LauriD : 06-30-2010 at 01:39 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 06-23-2010, 03:24 AM   #2
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Default Re: How did a "first time" screenwriter end up writing a Tom Cruise movie?

Wow, talk about scathing. The reviewer admits they don't like the action/comedy genre, though. Rotten Tomatoes has it at 56%, which is obviously not good, but still high enough that I think I'll go see it.

Anyway, this is obviously not the writer's first feature script. The 2001 credit suggests he's been writing for a while and this is simply the first script that was produced. According to Variety, the projected originated as WICHITA, which was a spec. Since then, several drafts have been done by different writers, but I guess most of the original was retained because O'neill still managed to pull off a "written by" credit.

A Variety search pulls up 6 articles which suggest that he's had several projects in the works over the years, and this is the first one to make it all the way to theaters.
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Old 06-23-2010, 05:35 AM   #3
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Default Re: How did a "first time" screenwriter end up writing a Tom Cruise movie?

"written by Mr. Mangold and Patrick O’Neill, based on a story by Mr. O’Neill"

And there is at least part of the answer. Original story means an original screenplay... that was rewritten by who knows how many people who are off screen, but by Mangold who did enough rewriting to get a shared screenplay credit. Plus however many people did no-credit rewrites.

So, this guy sold a spec script that got mangled into this, and (as usual) the critic blames the writer and ignores the director's screenwriting credit and mentions all of the director's much better films to show that it wasn't his fault.

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Old 06-23-2010, 06:18 AM   #4
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Default Re: How did a "first time" screenwriter end up writing a Tom Cruise movie?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wcmartell View Post
So, this guy sold a spec script that got mangled into this, and (as usual) the critic blames the writer and ignores the director's screenwriting credit and mentions all of the director's much better films to show that it wasn't his fault.
And how does this affect O'Neill's career? Assuming he actually is a good writer (I haven't read anything by him), do those that have control of the purse strings continue to give him opportunities? I mean, do they know that it's possible the movie may not be good because of things other than the writer?

HH
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Old 06-23-2010, 07:19 AM   #5
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Default Re: How did a "first time" screenwriter end up writing a Tom Cruise movie?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wcmartell View Post
So, this guy sold a spec script that got mangled into this, and (as usual) the critic blames the writer and ignores the director's screenwriting credit and mentions all of the director's much better films to show that it wasn't his fault.

- Bill
Plus, any good lines of dialogue were probably just ad-libbed by the actors.


BTW Bill, please don't feel that the fact that HH and I only quoted your final paragraph is in any way a reflection on the quality of the first two paragraphs.

I'm sure other people will come along and quote those ones as well, since they are very solid.

Seriously.

No need to give it any thought...
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Old 06-23-2010, 09:05 AM   #6
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Default Re: How did a "first time" screenwriter end up writing a Tom Cruise movie?

This NY Times article explains how this "film" happened. And it's a great eye opener on the process in general:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/15/movies/15knight.html
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Old 06-23-2010, 09:22 AM   #7
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Default Re: How did a "first time" screenwriter end up writing a Tom Cruise movie?

Wasn't Collateral an original spec by a "first time" screenwriter too? Interesting to compare the two.
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Old 06-23-2010, 10:41 AM   #8
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Default Re: How did a "first time" screenwriter end up writing a Tom Cruise movie?

Quote:
Originally Posted by haroldhecuba View Post
And how does this affect O'Neill's career? Assuming he actually is a good writer (I haven't read anything by him), do those that have control of the purse strings continue to give him opportunities? I mean, do they know that it's possible the movie may not be good because of things other than the writer?
The rule of thumb is that a hit helps everyone, but bombs don't really hurt the writer.

Most people in Hollywood know that writers don't have much control, therefore the poor quality of the movie may well not be his fault.

As a writer, if you get a director and a cast attached to the project, you've done your job.
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Old 06-23-2010, 11:07 AM   #9
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Default Re: How did a "first time" screenwriter end up writing a Tom Cruise movie?

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Originally Posted by wcmartell View Post
that was rewritten by who knows how many people who are off screen, but by Mangold who did enough rewriting to get a shared screenplay credit. Plus however many people did no-credit rewrites.
Ten writers, including Mangold. And Mangold did not get credit.

To the OP's question of how this got sold to begin with, it probably didn't hurt that O'Neill is longtime friends with John Cusack and Steve Pink.
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Old 06-23-2010, 11:44 AM   #10
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Default How?

Quote:
"Asked why, Steve Pink, a producer of the film who helped work out the original idea with Mr. O’Neill, a high school friend from Evanston, Ill., pointed to its core concept, a shifty protagonist."
Having a high school buddy, who is a producer, might explain the "how"!
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