found THIS great blog post via Irish writer http://twitter.com/juliangough 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.