Movie Options and Mouse Guard

Some of you familiar with small press comics may be familiar with Mouse Guard.  This series, created by the spectacular David Petersen, is a fantastic comics read and also the winner of two Eisner Awards!  Seriously, if you have not read Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 or Mouse Guard: Winter 1152, you need to pick up both of these titles!  I own them and they are amazing!

Anyway, there was recent news that Twentieth Century Fox has optioned Mouse Guard to be made into a feature film!  

That’s quite an honor.  I hope this actually gets made.

Anyway, I’d like to talk more today about making the jump to movies and maybe television.  I’m sure a lot of you writers out there would like to see your novel, novella, short story, etc turned into a movie.  The same probably goes for those who make webcomics, comic books, zines, graphic novels and so on.  But how does all this work?

Most of the information I’m about to share comes from this neat article from Writer’s Digest.  You’ve heard the term “option” when it comes to movies.  The term is basically the “rental” of your creative work (graphic novel, short story, etc) for the possibility of making a movie; the agents will shop it around to various companies to get made into a film.  You can get paid for that alone!

The above article states that optioning can start at around US$500.  It’s hard to determine an exact price because it does fluctuate and it can even explode to high levels if some studio desperately wants to turn your creation into a movie!

Then there’s the term of “green light” – that means your option is actually selected for production.  The money for that can be even higher!  As the above article states, you would get paid the “purchase price” if your work is green lighted for a movie: The purchase price is usually 2–3 percent of the production’s budget, with a cap. So, at 2 percent, if a film is budgeted at $10 million, on the first day of principal photography you get a check for $200,000.

And this is not counting foreign sales, home video, royalties, merchandising and all that.  That’s beyond the scope of this blog post and the above article – anyone wanting to learn about that will have to research it on their own.

Some of you reading this are probably rubbing your hands with eager anticipation; you’re probably thinking that if you could get an option or even a green light for your fantasy novella or webcomic, you’d be raking in big money.  The sad reality is that even those who get options, very few of those projects are ever green lighted for actual production.

Still though, that shouldn’t stop you from trying.  If you have a good product and complete confidence in it, I say go for it.  I’d very much like to see Sunnyville Stories turned into an animated series or a feature film.

Speaking of which, if anyone out there is interested in making a big screen production of Sunnyville, feel free to contact me.  I can be reached by email at  maxwestart(at)gmail(dot)com or by snail mail at Different Mousetrap Press LLC, 1100 19th Avenue N, #108, Unit J, Fargo ND 58102-2269 USA.

That’s it for now.  Meanwhile, sign up for the Sunnyville Stories mailing list if you haven’t yet.  Stop over to DriveThru Comics for digital copies of Sunnyville Stories.  Copies ofSunnyville Stories Volume 1 are still for sale on Amazon, both in print and Kindle formats!  While you’re there, be sure to pick up Sunnyville Stories Volume 2 and (if you love Gothic horror) Von Herling, Vampire Hunter!  And now available is the latest installment of the saga, Sunnyville Stories Volume 3.  Get them today!

Copies of all the above titles are available to the library trade via Brodart Company and to retailers from Ingram and Baker & Taylor (via BCH Distribution).  Copies are also available direct from the publisher.


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About Max West

I am a freelance artist and the creator of Sunnyville Stories, an independent slice-of-life comics series.
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