ARCHERY??? LOVE IT RIDLEY! (The fragility of ideas)

found THIS great blog post via Irish writer on the twitter. it was written by a Hollywood screenwriter. He points out how the script for the current Ridley Scott version of Robin Hood was MUCH different to what ended up on screen. The original script was called NOTTINGHAM.

He writes “Probably close to 3 years ago, a hot script by Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris called NOTTINGHAM went out to buyers. The script was the Robin Hood story told from the Sheriff of Nottingham’s point of view – as he used period “forensics”, like tracking and arrow trajectory, to find a terrorist who was robbing respectable members of society. Sherlock Holmes in Sherwood Forest.” It’s a great post. You should read it.

Along the way Russell Crowe signed on to star and Ridley Scott was hired to shoot it. And along the way the bad-guy-as-hero idea got dropped in favor of telling the same old story we’ve seen lots of times. It reportedly cost $250 million and recently opened to meh! reviews.

Now i have no idea what happened in detail but i can hazard a pretty good guess. The original idea that got everyone excited (the script) was seen as a just a means to an end. Something shiny to attract star power. Nobody meant to fuck up the script. probably. but they did. and along the way discarded the core of the idea: the sheriff of nottingham is good, robin is a hood.

Now i’ve never shot a movie or got sucked into the Hollywood vortex. But i have written and supervised the production hundreds of commercials and commercial-like things. And in my position i am fortunate. You see as an ad writer, unlike Hollywood, i have the power. Well a lot of the power. the client has ultimate control but they hire me to take care of the creative end of things. and i hire the director etc. and one thing i’ve observed over time is that with any idea there are certain things that are sacrosanct. that if messed with will completely fuck up your idea. there are also lots of things that you can change that aren’t really material. and the trick is knowing the difference between the two.

But in Hollywood writers have no power. Whether they know it or not they are merely generators of meeting fodder. Can you name a famous screenwriter other than Charlie Kaufman?

Clearly nobody stood up to Ridley Scott and said “What the f**k are you thinking Ridley? We are NOT shooting the robin hood story, got that?”. Nobody did the calculus and went “this isn’t going to work Ridley!”. Would you stand up to Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe? Me neither.

13 responses to “ARCHERY??? LOVE IT RIDLEY! (The fragility of ideas)

  1. C’mon Vinny
    Ernie Lehamn and William Goldman are but two plus Billy Wilder got to direct too. I take your point though. I’d take your pint too given the chance. Ha. One would be a tiny cog in Hollywood. Their loss.

  2. Ridley seems cool. plus he has a history of good projects.

    Russel is sissy. you can see that from another galaxy.

  3. oh no doubt ridley can bring a movie in.

    but i’ve seen first hand how directors can try to “improve” ideas that are just fine and just need to be executed. sometimes the script is fine.

  4. It’s all in the script. Those directors can only fuck it up if they fanny around with treatment or they can leave be and let the script go to screen.

  5. I love Cate Blanchett. But I read that when they started filming they had to seek a new starlet because the original chosen leading lady was in her early 20’s and Russell hadn’t slimmed down so the two of them together looked too pervy.

    Riki not sure about Russell now but when he came to the US to promote Romper Stomper my friend’s buddy from college had to entertain him for 5 days in LA. Which turned out to be 4 drug and alcohol fueled 24/7 days. My friend spent one night with them and said it was too crazy. You can tell he looks warn now!

    New Ad Council PSA: Kids don’t drink and do drugs or you will look like: insert photo of Russel Crowe today.

    I am going to read the link Vinny thank ye. I see 2 blog posts. Frisky today eh?

  6. Aussie likes to party shocker!

    When I lived in a squat in Willesden Green, London back in the late 80s there was us, Irish immigrants and a matching tower block filled with Aussies. the Aussies had a legendary sunday morning pissup somewhere south in a pub called THE GREYHOUND that i attended one sunday morning.

    it was strippers and comedians and pounding cans of XXXX urly in the morning.

    but the highlight of the morning was pouring a can of beer over your neighbor’s head. which was unbelievably cathartic and fun. having someone from australia pour a can of lager over your head is a lot more fun than it sounds.

  7. When I visited Oz I just thought it was full of northerners (large beer drinkers) who talked funny. I remember drinking on the Rocks, Sydney and this fist travelled past my face and hit the guy sitting next to me. ‘Cos he was rabitting on apparently. Everyone eventually got up off the floor and carried on drinking. Totally mad.

  8. on Russell.
    I thought about his acting. really really weak. one dimensional.
    don’t know him personally. could be party-animal. but there’re lots around. I did my share too.

  9. Crowe’s ok in my book ‘cos he’s a league fan (South Sydney Rabbitohs).

  10. the thing about mr. crowe is, like him or not, he’s a legitimate movie star. and there’s always a shortage of those. he was amazing in LA Confidential. As was his compatriot Guy Pearce. Roles you’d have thought would surely have gone to Americans.

  11. Did anyone in Robin Hood’s day live to be Russell Crowe’s age?

  12. Diane, it’s my understanding that the huge infant mortality rates of that time lowered the average life expectancy. but if you were hardy enough to survive the first year, yes you could live to be even as old as Mr. Crowe.

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