Friday, November 02, 2007

Movies: 29 days of night.

Over at Comic Book Resource blog Comics Should Be Good they run a regular feature on rumors, urban legends, and lingering questions regarding comics and the comic biz. Recently, they had a curious bit about the history of the recently adapted vampire mini-series 30 Days of Night.

From Comics Should Be Good:

COMIC
URBAN LEGEND: 30 Days of Night was a movie pitch BEFORE it was a comic book series.

STATUS: True

The success of Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith’s 30 Days of Night comic was an influential event in comic book history, as the series demonstrated to many others the value of having a comic book to use to make a movie pitch. Soon, a great deal of independent publishers began to look at comic pitches as basically, “Could this be optioned for a film?”

Reader Kris N., though wrote in last week to ask, “Is it true that 30 Days of Night was a movie screenplay before it was a comic?”

And the answer, interestingly enough, is basically yes.

I say basically only because it was not actually a screenplay, but the development from comics to film for 30 Days of Night did, in fact, begin in the realm of film.

I think Steve Niles can tell the story better than I can, so here he is, courtesy of an excellent article by Scott Collura and Eric Moro over at IGN.com:

“I pitched it as a movie for two or three years,” recalls Niles, who prior to 30 Days has been best known for his work in the comics industry. “I pitched it to just blank faces. And they’d say, ‘It sounds like Buffy, it sounds like Buffy.’ And honestly I had just about given up.”

Following the rejection of the 30 Days pitch, Niles continued to focus his energies on his comics work, writing various books for Todd McFarlane including Spawn: The Dark Ages and Hellspawn. It was on the latter comic that he first worked with Ben Templesmith, a first-time artist who would go on to partner with Niles on the 30 Days comic.

“It was just one of those weird things,” says the scribe. “Ted Adams from IDW called and said, ‘We want to do some comics. We can’t pay, there’s no money, but you can do whatever you want.’ So I just pulled out a sheet of my pitch list and said, ‘Here’s pitches that nobody ever bought.’ And he was like, ‘This vampire in Alaska thing looks kind of cool!’ Ben liked it, IDW wanted to do it, so we just did it and didn’t get paid a dime. And the day the ad for the first issue hit, we started getting calls from every studio, every producer, even people I had pitched before. People to this day deny that they rejected it, and I love it! Even one of the producers on the movie had originally rejected it.”

3 comments:

SpaceJack said...

Should superhero films fall out of favour with the moviegoing public, I think the comics industry is going to crash harder than it ever has before.

That said, I can easily see the genre continuing for the forseeable future. Much like how rap music has managed to do.

One thing I always find strange about the producing/publishing industries is how ideas like "30 Days" are bought and sold, or get stuck in limbo for years at a time. Like you already mentioned, it's one of those "hey why didn't I think of that" ideas. I wonder what would happen if someone else did, and then went on to try to get it published.

CRwM said...

Screamin' Spacey,

You're not alone in thinking that. As the comic audience ages and less and less actual comics are sold, the value of comic properties is transforming into their ability to cash in at the box office, the toy store, as a video game, etc.

Another potential glimpse into the future might be the rise of the multi-format jack-of-all-trades houses like Fox Atomic. FA has its hands in film and comics already. I can't imagine that video games, books, etc., is far behind.

Personally, I'm happy to allow the big cape-pushing publishers all the movie money they want. I don't much care what they do, but the retail they bring in helps fund comic shops large enough to also carry the more interesting indie stuff.

cattleworks said...

WIRED magazine has an interesting issue out regarding the influence of manga.
One statistic cited, the American version of Shonen Jump, sells 250,000 vs. Spider-man's 100,000 readership.
In the same way that movies have focused on a global market more regularly, I wonder if comics should do the same thing as well.

It seemed the point of contrasting those circulations is that even though Shonen Jump reads from "back to front", it also is a 300 pg. magazine costing $5, vs. a regular 32 pg comic costing $3.

It's a little off the subject, but manga has some pretty weird diversity as well.
These mash-ups may actually be better sells for some readerships, you know?