Junior Development Executive

Posted on 26 November 2009 by Derek

Ah Jaws IV... Where a family gets on an air plane in New England, land in the Bahamas... and somehow a shark has followed them there!

See that kid? That’s me, age 10 I believe, having the time of my life at Universal Studios on a family vacation in Florida. So inspired was I by the magic of the movies coming alive around me that I went back to our condo that night and began jotting down dozens of ideas for movies I wanted to make one day.

Now interpret how you will. Perhaps there are some executives who think like a ten year old, or perhaps I was just a kid who knows what sells. Either way, here are some actual entries from my oldest idea book I just stumbled across today…

Phantom of the Opera

Do you like the pitchman speak? The vague promises of “Big[g]er and better [than] any of the other Phantom movies.” “[Excitement] that will catch the eye of the view[er]s for the 2000’s.”

At some point prior to pencil hitting page on this one my mum had taken me to see The Phantom of the Opera with a couple of my cousins during its ten year run in Toronto.

In the musical there’s a scene where the Phantom hangs another character, killing him. This scared me… a lot. For months afterwards I was convinced a masked man would drop down from the attic when I least expected it and finish me with a noose.

So rather than picturing a musical, remembering really only one scene from the play, I was pretty convinced I had a winning horror movie on my hands.

Director Joel Schumacher must’ve had similar thoughts at some point, at least about the winning hit part. He seemed much more into the music and less traumatized by the hanging scene than I.

The shirt I wore to Universal Studios, coincidentally enough, merchandise from Schumacher’s Batman Forever.

Warner Brothers

The Phantom of the Opera

Written by Joel Schumacher & Andrew Lloyd Wright
Directed by Joel Schumacher

Released: December 22nd, 2004
Gross Revenue: $154,648,887

War of the Worlds

The first adult novel I ever read was Ian Fleming’s James Bond story “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, the second was H.G. Well’s “War of the Worlds”. Both caught my imagination but after  my day at Universal there was no idea I was more passionate about someday turning into a movie than War of the Worlds.

However I must confess like a handful of executives before me I had no idea how to turn the novel into a movie. I just thought it would make an awesome theme park ride!

And I stand by that thought today, set a ride in turn of the century England with laser incinerator wielding aliens and an amazing attraction you will have.

A decade later director Steven Spielberg would put a lot more thought into the classic novel and realize it was a fitting stage to touch on the world’s thoughts and feelings surrounding  the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and of the wars that followed.

Paramount Pictures

War of the Worlds

Written by David Koepp
Directed by Steven Spielberg

Released: June 29, 2005
Gross Revenue: $591,745,540

Scooby-Doo

The DDR that keeps popping up in all of these was my imagined production company, named after my initials and not Dance Dance Revolution or the Deutsche Demokratische Republik… though I would be curious to see an East German take on Scoobs.

A product of the fact I was riveted by my discovery of the Cartoon Network in our condo down in Flordia (it’d be two more years before Canada got an all cartoon channel) Scooby-Doo was one of many live action adaptations I dreamed of. I am currently still waiting for some studio to step up and develop a “Top Cat” movie.

Scooby-Doo

Scooby-Doo

Written by James Gunn
Directed by Raja Gosnell

Released: June 14, 2002
Gross Revenue: $275,650,703

King Kong

This would probably be as good a time as any to apologize for young Derek’s spelling. I would like to claim another decade and change later it’s gotten better but it might have something to do with my increased access to machines with spell check.

Without a doubt my favourite ride at Universal Studios was Kongfrontation. I loved the detail of it, I loved how you entered the world of the movie right when you started lining up.

The entire queue was themed as though you were entering a station on the Roosevelt Island Tramway in Manhatten. Storefronts with fully stocked shelves, intricate graffiti coating most every surface, televisions reporting on King Kong’s attack, and the distinct smell of banana breath in the air.

Themed to the smallest detail it played right into my over active imagination… Now I’ve never read any sort of interview where Peter Jackson talks about being inspired by an amusement park ride but we both agreed on one thing it seems, set it in ‘33.

Universal Studios

King Kong

Written by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens
Directed by Peter Jackson

Released: December 14, 2005
Gross Revenue: $550,517,357

For those of you keeping score at home, these four movies alone (out of a couple dozen ‘ideas’ in my notebook) make for $1,572,562,487 worth of concepts. I suppose in the decade of adaptations the pre-teen kid is king.

Perhaps exec’s should just start asking children in line for the Revenge of the Mummy ride what scripts they should greenlight?

  • I enjoy the signature after every idea. Will Robertson.

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