Who doesn’t love a good rom-com? I definitely do.
I also don’t mind a riveting action-thriller, with a good-looking main character, preferably Brad Pitt – in Mr & Mrs Smith.
We all enjoy movies, whatever the genre but it is safe to say that to become a scriptwriter in Hollywood, it requires more than a reputable cast and writing abilities. The major studios are increasingly relying on blockbuster hits for profits. A way to guarantee a hefty turnover is to stick with what has worked in the past – the ultimate structure. These movies need to be produced to sell – and to sell big!
John Truby, a Hollywood screenwriter, director and teacher, has produced a thousand film scripts over the past three decades. He has also released the article, Secrets of Blockbuster Movies – underpinning the strategies behind Hollywood’s Blockbuster hits.
In a shocking revelation by Truby, the intricate plot that you are deeply invested in is all a lie. It is known that the secret recipe for a blockbuster success, is applying one or all of these six deep structures.
DISCLAIMER: Please read on in your own risk. This will change your view on movies forever.
The first element to a blockbuster success is a strong desire line. In these blockbuster hits, this desire line is commonly framed around a positive ending – where the main character, or ‘hero’ is fighting to solve a problem or constantly trying to create value.
This structure is found in Castaway, where Chuck washes ashore on a deserted island from a plane crash – with the story-line heavily relying on the question if he will ever reunite with his loved ones and get back to society.
22 BUILDING BLOCKS
Another element found in blockbusters are 22 building blocks. The steps of the 22 building blocks will never reveal what exactly to write. The steps guide the scriptwriter on how to structure their script and to execute that ultimate dramatic effect.
An example of these steps can be found in The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby.
The next element to becoming a Hollywood hit is the big ‘reveal’. A reveal is a groundbreaking surprise or new information that is given to the main character(s). It is said that to successfully execute this, a blockbuster hit must possess seven to ten reveals.
This structure of Reveal can be found in Gone GIrl, where a wife’s disappearance becomes the focus of a media circus. The many surprises and constant flow of new information are present even up to the last 10 seconds of the movie.
Just thought I would check in. Are you shook yet?
The next blockbuster element is the ‘plan’ within the story structure. The character or hero will execute this plan to conquer the enemy and achieve the end objective. The writer will do so by drawing the attention to the ‘trickter’ characteristics in the hero.
This strategy can be found in Deadpool (2016). A superhero with a twisted sense of humor is exposed to a scientific experiment that develops unwanted healing powers, ending in revenge. Despite the unusual nature of this character, the audience identifies ‘Wade’, as the hero and applauds his trickster qualities.
The next and most essential blockbuster theory is the story strategy. Blockbuster movies often begin by identifying a ‘real character’ and injecting this person into a unique situation or environment – often an mythical land.
The audience can identify with this character by telling themselves, ‘that character is normal, this character could be me!’. Once this personal association is formed, the scriptwriter will then introduce the unique environment.
An example of this structure is the introduction of Harry Potter. Introducing the sub-human character (Harry Potter) and then heavily changing the discourse of the movie to inject this character into a unique world (Hogwarts).
The last element and often the most complex is the ‘difficult predicament’. The scriptwriter will present a problematic situation to the chosen character, creating a second desire line.
As explored in Truby’s article, Blockbuster, if the character chooses Option 1, they will have to sacrifice Option 2. If the character chooses Option 2, they will have to sacrifice Option 1.
An example of this structure is in Gravity. The crew is undergoing the STS-157 mission. However, the space shuttle becomes damaged and now the only chance to return to Earth is to move to another station – with a limited amount of oxygen and fuel.
And that ladies and gentlemen, is the secret to Hollywood.
I’m sure a lot of you are now planning your next career path as a scriptwriter in hope to make millions… Right?
Well sorry to be the bearer of bad news but just because you use all the blockbuster deep structures, it doesn’t warrant you a spot on Netflix’s new releases. However, it is a good step towards being the next hotshot in Hollywood!