Movie Lady in the Water by M. Night Shyamalan

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371
Writers
M. Night Shyamalan
Draft Type
Any Draft
Does anyone know where (if anywhere online) I could find a copy of Shyamalan's original screenplay for Lady in the Water?

I think I could learn a lot from it.

Thank you in advance.
 

Lon

Messages
696
There are some Shyamalan scripts out there, but Lady in the Water ain't one of 'em. Here are the ones you can find rather easily:

Labor of Love (unproduced)
The Sixth Sense
Unbreakable
Signs
The Village (original title: The Woods)
The Happening (original title: The Green Effect)

If you can learn anything from Lady in the Water, it's how NOT to write a script. :D
 
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312
If you can learn anything from Lady in the Water, it's how NOT to write a script.
Are you sure about that? IIRC, the spec had multiple studio offers over $1MM, and MNS went with Disney because Nina Jacobson convinced him that they would support him and give him autonomy. Certainly his track record helped, but that script was strong enough to start a bidding war.
 

Lon

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696
At the time he still had marquee value because of the successes of The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. He hadn't yet made a string of bombs. There's no counting how many times a studio/prodco has coughed up major green for a script without having even read it, based solely on the star power of the writer/director/actor/what-have-you attached.

Consider this: Shyamalan is one of those writer/directors who basically shoots exactly what he writes. Check out his scripts, there tend to be very few differences between his script and the resulting film. So if the movie Lady in the Water sucked sour frog ass -- and, IMO, it did -- I'd say it's a given that the script sucked as well.
 
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There's no counting how many times a studio/prodco has coughed up major green for a script without having even read it, based solely on the star power of the writer/director/actor/what-have-you attached.
I'd like to hear more about this. Can you think of a few examples where a studio spent over a million dollars for a script they hadn't read?

I've seen execs decide to buy a script for modest money just to buy the concept, with no intention of using the actual scripts. I've never seen a studio spend a million dollars on a script they have not read. The closest thing I can remember is Eszterhas selling the concept for SHOWGIRLS on a napkin for seven figures, but that was really a blind commitment for him to write a script and it was in the midst of the insane spec market of the 90s.

IIRC, Lady in the Water went around town and everybody read it -- and agonized over it, because a lot of them couldn't understand it. A lot of the friction in the production was because Disney (Nina) told MNS that they would back him and give him autonomy, then they began asking for script changes. MNS' deal, of course, gave him complete creative control, so he didn't have to change the script.
 
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1,080
I'd like to hear more about this. Can you think of a few examples where a studio spent over a million dollars for a script they hadn't read?

I've seen execs decide to buy a script for modest money just to buy the concept, with no intention of using the actual scripts. I've never seen a studio spend a million dollars on a script they have not read. The closest thing I can remember is Eszterhas selling the concept for SHOWGIRLS on a napkin for seven figures, but that was really a blind commitment for him to write a script and it was in the midst of the insane spec market of the 90s.

IIRC, Lady in the Water went around town and everybody read it -- and agonized over it, because a lot of them couldn't understand it. A lot of the friction in the production was because Disney (Nina) told MNS that they would back him and give him autonomy, then they began asking for script changes. MNS' deal, of course, gave him complete creative control, so he didn't have to change the script.
Did Joe Eszterhas get a three 'blank script' deal for not making a fuss about JADE being rewritten?
The studio had to know those scripts would suck.
 
Messages
371
If you can learn anything from Lady in the Water, it's how NOT to write a script. :D

Thanks for the recommendations. I take issue with two things here

Firstly, I'd argue that even if you feel the finished film doesn't work, you can learn a lot from a professional script that didn't click, arguably more than from a polished masterpiece.

Secondly, from interviews Shyamalan wrote 13 drafts of Lady in the Water, more than any other of his other films. And then spent months cutting it down. If Lady in the Water didn't work for you personally (and I find it fascinating) it's possible something was lost in one of those drafts or cuts.

But this is all academic, because unlike Unbreakable, Signs & The Village, the script never leaked onto the internet.
 

Lon

Messages
696
Look, I'm just expressing an opinion on the movie. I thought it was awful. I didn't know it had gone through 13 drafts, but that certainly explains a lot. If you haven't got your script nailed down before double-digit drafts, maybe it's time to set it aside and work on something else, 'cuz chances are that puppy's not going to work.

There are exceptions, of course. One that immediately springs to mind is Antwone Fisher, who said he went through 40-some drafts of his autobiographical script before his producer was finally pleased with it. But that was also Fisher's first script. Shyamalan had already written no less than three blockbuster scripts by the time he got to Lady in the Water, so it's not like he didn't know what he was doing. You'd think he'd have the awareness to say, y'know what? This isn't working. I should write something else.

If you enjoy the flick, great. I thought it was junk. Given that we're dealing in opinions and not facts, mine is no more right or wrong than yours.
 
Messages
312
Did Joe Eszterhas get a three 'blank script' deal for not making a fuss about JADE being rewritten?
The studio had to know those scripts would suck.
Joe wrote a tell-all a few years back -- that would be the definitive source. I remember him getting blind commitment deals at a couple of studios.
 
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