Imogen writes in with a question:
While browsing this year's specs in the Black List (blcklst.com/) and the Hit List (tracking-board.com/the-hit-list-2010/), I couldn't help but notice that most are action films or thrillers. Comedy tended to feature towards the bottom of the lists, and even then, there were few to begin with. Chick flicks? Hah! Maybe 2 or 3 max.
Awesome. I'm writing a chick flick.
Is it harder to get a chick flick made, compared to other genres? Are there more male script readers than female? And if yes, do you think this would make a difference anyway? Or does the lack of comedy and girly films just reflect current tastes in the market?
Some good questions here, so let's start with the easy one:
"Is it harder to get a chick flick made?" That depends - is it a drama, comedy or melodrama?
Melodrama = Beaches
Drama = The Notebook, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, For Colored Girls,
Comedy = Maid of Honor, The Ugly Truth, What Women Want
There are also Dramadies like The Devil Wears Prada, which really sort of straddle the line. I'd probably push it as a comedy if I was trying to sell it, given the conventional wisdom that drama is less commercially successful.
Of the three sub-genres, Comedy is probably the easiest of the three to sell. Comedy tends to have broader commercial appeal and it you'll find a high concept female-driven comedy more often than a high-concept female-driven drama. In fact, it's possible that those will be seen as "high concept comedies" rather than "chick flicks."
The advantage of a chick-flick is that they cost a helluva lot less than your average Bruckheimer or Bay film. So you might not have a mega-hit like Transformers on your hands, but you also don't NEED to recoup a $150 million dollar budget. (Unless you've made the mistake of hiring Jim Brooks to direct.)
Also, women tend to be an under-served portion of the viewing audience. And people seem to forget about this until a Sex & The City opens big and for a week, publications both online and print run feature articles with the subtext, "Golly gee! Dem dere's womenfolk who can buy tickets too!"
The important thing is to have a "star role." Make sure it's something that Reese or Anne could play if you're dealing with younger characters. If you're dealing with older, think Julia or Meryl, and even older you want Diane Keaton. Maybe I'm wrong in this thinking, a healthy portion of the chick flicks out there seem star-driven. (Which makes sense, there aren't an abundance of high-concept chick-flicks that have REALLY worked. The Wedding Date, anyone?)
I'll plead guilty here - I've not worked for many companies in the business of making these movies frequently, so my "insider" knowledge here is less useful than if we were talking about genre pics. Is a chick flick likely to be THE hot spec? No, probably not... because it's less likely to be the big phenomenon of the summer.
Given that the Black List usually tends to spotlight either high-concept scripts or quirky comedies, I wouldn't read too much into the lack of scripts on that list.
Having said that, if you're writing a tear-jerking melodrama, you might want to rethink it. Those haven't been big lately and they tend to be tricky scripts to get readers excited about.
As for if there are more male readers than female, I can say with any certainty that there's a significant imbalance in the gender ratio. My personal experience is that I've encountered more male readers than female. As to if it makes a difference if you have a male or a female reader on your chick flick, it shouldn't. If the reader is any good, the main thing that will stand in your way is who they're reading for.
Readers are paid to filter material for their bosses. Thus, it behooves them to identify material that their bosses will find valuable. If they're reading for a company that makes dramas, they'd better know what makes a good drama. If their bosses tend to produce thrillers, then they should have an eye for thrillers - and if their bosses make chick flicks, then the readers - male and female - had better be able to recognize a good chick flick.
I hope that answers your questions.