I've been trying to avoid 'inside baseball' pieces lately because they're sort of boring and also because they tend to piss people off, and not in the productive and fun way in which I usually like to piss people off. But this story needs to be addressed to clear some things up.
The nerd blogosphere has been picking up as news something that Max Landis, who is the credited writer on Chronicle and who made the popular online short Death and Return of Superman, said on Reddit in an AMA. Here's the quote:
“[I’d like to do] either a version of Green Lantern that played like ET meets Stand By Me using the goth/punk seen and Kyle Raynor [sic], or Wonder-Woman, using a pitch that I intend to make to WB.”
This has been picked up as news, and run with headlines like
Will Chronicle Writer Max Landis Make A Wonder Woman Movie
Great Hera! Chronicle Writer Max Landis Is Gonna Pitch A Wonder Woman Flick
Wonder Woman Film Coming From Chronicle's Max Landis?
Let's take a step back to the original quote. Landis 'intends' to pitch Wonder Woman. There are many things many of us 'intend' to do every day and yet they never seem to happen. The language used makes it sound like Landis doesn't even have a meeting set up, it's just something he'd like to do. Of course Landis has enough visibility - especially thanks to blogs that will, bafflingly, print his every utterance as if it were news - that getting such a meeting would be easy. I have no doubt that Landis could and probably will sit down with Warner execs at some point to discuss possible future projects.
Here's the next thing: just because he intends to pitch these movies - Wonder Woman and a 'punk/scene' Green Lantern - doesn't mean Warner Bros has the slightest interest in making them. I have to assume that Green Lantern is off the slate for the next few years at least. Wonder Woman seems more plausible, if only because the amount of heat that the studio has been taking over the absence of a Wonder Woman movie must makes execs take notice. But is there a Wonder Woman movie in ANY stage of development right now?
Writers pitch stuff to studios every day. All day. It's one of the earliest parts of the process, and out of the thousands of pitches that are made a week in Hollywood, a tiny, tiny number ever get anyplace close to happening. Name your favorite screenwriter. I bet that person has made dozens, if not a hundred, pitches that went nowhere. Not because the writer was bad or the idea was bad or anything like that, but simply because of circumstance or timing or the interest of the executives or, I don't know, just the very nature of a business where thousands of people are throwing ideas non-stop at other people.
Basically Landis has an idea for a Wonder Woman movie. I bet most writers have an idea for a Bond movie or a Star Wars movie or a Spider-Man movie, just like many of you do. We all have ideas for movies, especially for movies that are based on existing properties, because part of being a nerd is imagining how to make that comic or book or TV show or video game a movie. I don't know why we do it, but we do, and we can't help it. Half my conversations with my friends who work in the industry are me complaining about girls, but the other half is us tossing back our dumb ideas on how to make a Batman film. I could tell you some interesting names who have an idea for a superhero movie, but that's not news. That's just people having ideas.
So when does this become news? Not when Landis says he intends to pitch it, that's for sure. It doesn't even become news when he pitches it (Warner execs will sit down with Landis and listen to anything he says, whether or not they're honestly interested, because he has enough buzz around him, so them taking the meeting isn't even news). It becomes news when Warner Bros buys the pitch. If they don't buy the pitch it becomes 'news' in ten years when Landis is doing interviews on some project and spills the beans on what his pitch was. We all like the 'road not taken' stories that come out of Hollywood - and because so many pitches never go anywhere, Hollywood is chock full of road not taken stories.
This isn't to say that Landis has a bad pitch. He could have a killer Wonder Woman pitch. And the amount of attention this has gotten - the fucking Hollywood Reporter, cementing their growing obsolesence, ran a story on it - definitely increases his chances. I've heard he's great in the room, and that combined with all the fan buzz gives him a big leg up. Best of luck to him, although I'd prefer to see a woman write the film.
What this is to say is that we're hitting a critical point where absolute nonsense is being reported as if it matters. It's actually making the public stupider. I think it's a disservice to readers, because I think readers deserve the best information, presented in the most coherent way possible. Look, I've presented rumors before (my aside about JJ Abrams and Star Wars taught me a valuable lesson that I see being replayed here, which is that some sites will take any statement and just present it out to the world. I was relaying a wide-spread rumor that many in my circle had heard, burying it deep in a piece because it didn't feel like 'news,' and it got turned into a newsbreak somehow), and I've been both wrong and right in the past. That's the nature of attempting to reveal information about a creative process that is fluid and changes - a plot rumor that is true today can be written out of the next draft tomorrow. But the idea of reporting that writers 'intend' to pitch movies to executives is so crazy, so beyond even the dopey "Here's a list of ten guys they would like to cast as the lead in the movie" stories, that I am exasperated.
This isn't Syria. The world won't be damaged because The Hollywood Reporter, who should know better, ran this story. And it's interesting watching Max Landis do what he is best at, namely promoting himself, and doing it so skillfully. Still, every time I wonder how much lower the fan press can get - lower than "So and so would think about playing Aquaman, if there was ever an Aquaman movie and the executives wanted him, and nobody even thinks there is an Aquaman movie, but hey here's a headline that's shareable!" stories - I'm shown there's no bottom.