As producers scrambled to make movie deals and wrap up production shots before the strike, book agents were also scrambling to get movie option deals in order. But some agents still worry that option deals will be shelved and the market for new literary materials will dry up altogether, as the major studios dig in for the long haul.
“I don’t think there are going to be any major negotiations concluded, maybe not even any offers tendered, while the strike is on,” said Richard Curtis, a New York literary agent.
The one exception, he and others suggested, is that studios will still be in the hunt for the rights to literary blockbusters, should they come on the market during the strike. Given the potential payoff, Curtis said, “someone will always find a smart way to get around it [the strike]. It will be a handshake between a studio and an agent, an understanding that basically says, ‘We’ll have a deal [on optioning film rights] subject to the conclusion of the strike.’ “
If all else fails, many Hollywood writers may be looking to New York for steady work. Indeed, the publishing world is gearing up for an influx of proposals for new book deals from screenwriters.
“Writers are writers, after all, and there’s nothing stopping them from dusting off that novel they’ve meant to get back to when they had time,” said Simon Lipskar, an agent with Writers House in New York. “Obviously, they now have the time.”