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04/07/2001 - Should You Option Your Script

The trend these days is for studios and production companies to option rather than purchase material from writers. This is a development that places writers in an extremely weak position.
An option is like someone renting your material for a set period of time, usually 1-2 years, for a fraction of the price that purchasing it would cost. In that period, the writer can no longer pitch his material to anyone else. The studio or production company tries to set up the project by hiring other writers for rewrites, and tries to find a producer and attach a director. Inevitably what happens most of the time is that the option runs out and the material reverts back to the writer who is now free to sell his material again. What has been lost is valuable time and momentum for peanuts. Unless the option money is substantial, options are a bad deal from the writer's point of view.


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