What a movie option means

Since the Heist Society movie option news broke yesterday, I’ve been reminded about how confusing movie “options” are to most people…

Does this mean there is going to be a movie or doesn’t it?! You guys want to know. But I’m afraid it isn’t that simple.

An option is precisely that…the OPTION to make Heist Society into a movie at some point in the future.

It means that Lionsgate and the producers have the right to hire a screenwriter and start working on a script, to maybe talk to directors or possibly, eventually hire actors and scout locations.

It means they can do all the things that must be done before a movie actually gets made.

It does not mean that a movie WILL get made.

I can see why you would be confused. We authors misuse the term and misrepresent the situation all the time.

An announcement of an option is often followed with the (rightfully enthusiastic) proclamation that “they are making my book into a movie!”

I could say that. Part of me wants to shout it from the rooftops, but if I did, I would be lying to you or lying to myself. (Most likely the latter.)

Because I’ve made that mistake before.

I remember being a new author and getting off the phone with my agent after hearing the news that Disney was optioning the Gallagher Girls.

I told everyone I could think of that “Disney is making my book into a movie!”

But DID Disney make my book into a movie? No. They did not.

They optioned it, tried to develop it, and ultimately let it go. Because that is how this business works. People option stuff all the time. (This is my 5th.) Those options lapse all the time. Very, very seldom do cameras ever roll.

Now, sometimes film companies won’t mess around with the “option” phase and will jump right to the “purchase” of the film rights. In those cases, does that mean that a movie is for sure getting made?

Nope. Not even then. That just means that the company will have the rights for longer and probably had to pay more for them—both good signs but still no assurance of a green light.

So, is Heist Society going to be a movie or not, Ally!?

No. It means that Heist Society MIGHT be a movie. If the script is good and the talent is hot and the director is available and the market is favorable and nine million other things line up in a row at the right time.

If those things happen then the movie will be “GREEN LIT” (or it will get the “green light”) and we can start talking about getting cameras rolling.

But…yes…even then things can still fall apart. (There was a news story yesterday about a movie being days away from filming that fell apart because the director had an issue with who he was/wasn’t allowed to hire to be on the crew.) That movie WAS getting made. Right up until the day it WASN’T.

So for all you guys who keep asking a very simple question (WILL THERE BE A MOVIE OR NOT!?)

Please allow me to give you a very simple answer: MAYBE.



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