So, yeah — I’m happy to announce that Fanboy has been optioned as one of them fancy moving pictures. A talkie, even!
Director Jeremiah Chechik (Benny & Joon, other stuff, too) and his production company (Tinroof Pictures) have picked up the option to the book. This has been a long process for everyone involved, and I want to thank Jeremiah for sticking with it, my agent Kathy Anderson for negotiating the deal, and her lawyer, Eric Feig, for handling the nitty-gritty. I also want to thank Liz Dubelman at VidLit for giving Jeremiah a copy of the book in the first place!
Now, you should know a few things: This deal is for an option. That means that Jeremiah now has eighteen months to figure out how to put together the financing for the movie and then buy the rights from me. The option is basically a contractual way of saying, “I really want the rights to make this book into a movie, but I’m not ready yet. Here’s a little money as a good faith gesture and in return, you agree not to let anyone else buy the rights for the next year or so.”
If, within that option time, Jeremiah is still interested and is able to get his ducks in a row, he then comes back to my agent and says, “OK, here’s the money we agreed upon for the rights. Now I’m going to make the movie.”
So basically, he’s bought the rights to buy the rights at some point down the road. And if a year and a half goes by, he can renew that option and get another eighteen months. So it could be years before we ever see a glimmer of a Fanboy movie.
Or, it could happen tomorrow.
Or, it could never happen. He could lose interest or not find the financing. Or just keep renewing the option until kingdom come.
This is par for the course. Hollywood deals are Byzantine and take a lot of time, I’ve learned. Movie interest in the book began as early as January 2006, nine months before the book even came out. That seemed (and still seems) odd to me, since no one had even seen the book yet! But who am to complain about some pre-pub buzz, right?
As spring came, some of the buzz began to solidify. One director called me and spent about an hour telling me how he would make the movie. He sent me a pre-release DVD of his latest movie so that I could see his style. I enjoyed the talk a lot and here’s the thing: I realized, as I hung up, that I wasn’t really bouncing off the walls at the idea of a movie being made from the book. What I was bouncing off the walls about was this: A complete stranger had read my book and loved it enough to call me and tell me that. Wow. That was huge to me, especially considering that we were still months away from the book hitting stores.
When the book did hit stores, the Hollywood interest picked up a little bit, with the occasional e-mail from production company folks. Fortunately, I had read Brian Michael Bendis’s absolutely brilliant Fortune & Glory, perhaps the ultimate primer on Hollywood. (Yeah, I know other folks have written Hollywood primers, but they’ve all done so from the inside. Bendis wrote F&G while still an outsider, to a degree. Plus, it’s just the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time!) I knew that Hollywood moved slowly and capriciously, so I just put movie stuff out of my mind and let Kathy handle it.
And then I got the call from Jeremiah.
Now, I knew that the call was coming, so right beforehand, I rectified a long-lived, shameful oversight — I ran out to the video store and rented Benny & Joon.
God, what a brilliant movie! The man who made this movie, I knew, could make my book come alive on screen.
I spent about an hour or so on the phone with him. He told me what he liked about the book, how he saw it developing into a film. We talked at length about traps to avoid — and we both agreed on what those traps were!
Later that day, Jeremiah wrote to my agent to officially begin the process of negotiating for the option.
That was about a year ago. Like I said before — Hollywood stuff takes time.
But hey — it’s the first step. And just like I felt a year ago, talking to that first director, I’m still excited. Not by the idea that there might someday be a movie of my book. No, by the idea that someone liked it enough to want to make a movie in the first place. Everything else is gravy.