Screenplay legal agreement deal points include but are not limited to:
Length of option
Price of option
Option extension possibilities
Script credits and credit bonuses
Box office bonuses
Rights & reserved rights
Subsequent derivative productions
Writing a screenplay is challenging enough. But when it comes time to sell that screenplay? You have to know even more, and it has nothing to do with writing.
Suppose you’ve made it to the point in your writing career where someone is trying to option or purchase your script. In that case, you’re probably feeling overwhelmed at the idea of negotiating a contract, determining how much your script is worth, and trying to balance your excitement for the sale and your caution about handing off all your hard work. Do you know what to look for in a screenplay legal agreement?
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Luckily, there are people like Sean Pope. Sean is an attorney at Ramo Law in Beverly Hills, and his practice centers on helping creatives and producers get what they want and deserve out of legal agreements.
In this blog, learn the difference between screenplay options and purchase agreements, plus Sean will explain other deal points you might find in a screenplay agreement. And if those deal points aren’t there? Well, you may want to ask for them.
Option Agreement for a Screenplay
What is a Screenplay Option?
If someone tells you they want to option your screenplay, they basically want to give you some money to agree that you won’t sell the screenplay to anyone else for a certain amount of time.
Why would someone want to option your screenplay? Time.
An option agreement allows them time to see if there’s any interest in the script on the open market; do actors want to be part of this? Is there a director that’s excited about it? Is there a market for this story?
In an option agreement, you’ll want to detail terms for length of time, fee, and any deal points noted in the Purchase Agreement section below.
Purchase Agreement for a Screenplay
If the option comes to a close and a producer or studio decides to purchase your screenplay (congrats!), it’s time to start thinking ahead.
What situations may arise in the future after you hand off your script? Will you want to do rewrites, sequels, prequels, or spinoffs, and will you even have the right to work on those projects?
These are all deal points that you need to work into your screenplay purchase agreement.
Credits & Credit Bonuses
In the case of both an option agreement and a screenplay purchase agreement, it’s best to hire an attorney rather than rely on online templates or the producer or production company’s lawyers. You want someone to be on your side, help negotiate a fee that you’re worth, and look out for your best interests. It may cost more initially, but it pays off big time in the end to have your legal representation.
Make sure each of the deal points mentioned above exists in your screenplay legal agreement if they’re important to you; try to think ahead. You never know how big your screenplay could become and how much money you might be leaving on the table if you sign away all your screenplay rights at the offset.
Let’s make a deal,