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October 6, 2023

From Streaming Wars to Superheroes: What Screenwriters Need to Know In 2023

The entertainment industry is evolving rapidly, presenting both new opportunities and challenges for screenwriters in 2023. To navigate the landscape and position themselves for success, writers need to understand the key forces shaping the industry.

Remember while creativity is important, insider knowledge of the industry and making yourself useful to executives is even more vital. 

So here are some trends to be aware of in 2023.

Streaming wars intensify

According to Nielsen data, streaming had a 38.1% share of TV viewership in January 2023, and a 34.3% share in February 2023​​. The adoption rate of streaming platforms has skyrocketed to 93%, now having more than double the user base of traditional cable TV, which has dwindled to 40%.

The rise of streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, and others has completely disrupted the entertainment industry. What was once a landscape dominated by movie theaters and traditional TV networks is now a battle for eyeballs between countless streaming services. 

This intense competition, known as the "streaming wars," is drastically changing the kinds of content that get made and how it gets distributed.

For screenwriters, the proliferation of streaming presents both new opportunities and challenges. There is more demand for fresh content than ever before as the services race to attract subscribers with original programming and bid against each other for buzzworthy projects. However, it also means there is more competition and writers have to be savvy about the kinds of stories each platform is looking for. 

With audiences able to instantly access such a wide variety of content, standing out requires strong original concepts, top-tier talent, and excellent execution. The streaming disruption will only intensify in 2023 and beyond, so screenwriters need to understand this new landscape to navigate and succeed.

Superheroes are still king (but...)

Superhero films based on popular comic book characters from Marvel, DC and other studios continue to dominate the box office year after year. Massive hits like Spider-Man: No Way Home, The Batman, Thor: Love and Thunder and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever prove these larger-than-life heroes still deliver huge audiences and profits. But some franchise fatigue may be setting in. 

The majority of the 10 highest-grossing films of 2022 were sequels or based on existing IP. 

While superheroes aren't going anywhere, there are signs audiences are hungry for more original stories and indie films that deliver fresh concepts and perspectives. Screenwriters should keep this in mind when developing projects. Superheroes may still reign supreme for now, but change is coming that calls for more unique and innovative storytelling. There is an opportunity for writers who can deliver that.

Original ideas vs. sequels/franchises

While sequels, reboots and franchises based on existing intellectual property are still a major force in Hollywood, there are signs that audiences are responding to fresh, original ideas. Films like Everything Everywhere All At Once and The Northman were among the most acclaimed films of 2022, showing that innovative storytelling and new concepts can break through and find success. 

The Northman reviews: Alexander Skarsgard stars in Robert Eggers epic -  GoldDerby
The Northman (2022) was an original story and not a sequel or a part of a franchise.

However, original films still face challenges when it comes to competing with marketed franchises. Screenwriters should focus on developing authentic stories with unique worlds and characters that excite executives and capture the cultural moment. 

Delivering a truly novel take or putting a spin on an established genre is key. With the right idea executed well, original films can thrive, especially if they capture the zeitgeist. But in the battle of original ideas vs. franchises, smart concept and superb writing is essential.

TV is where most writers are going 

Television is attracting top writing talent more than ever, especially on the streaming side. The expanded demand for new shows from Netflix, Amazon, Apple TV+ and others has opened up numerous opportunities for writers. TV provides a chance for writers to really explore characters and story over multiple episodes and seasons. 

Streaming also pushes the boundaries of subject matter and genre. 

Many film writers are now jumping to television to enjoy the creative freedom and job stability TV allows. Michael Collery told us this was his experience of the industry in our interview with him. The small screen is also being elevated to cinematic levels with high budgets, production values and actors making the transition. 

For screenwriters wanting to consistently ply their craft, build an audience and have creative control, television writing is where the industry is headed. The "second golden age" of TV continues to soar to new heights, and that looks set to continue as the streaming wars rage on.

The global market is more important

The international and global box office is increasingly vital to Hollywood studios and determines what films get made. China has become one of the largest movie markets behind North America. 

Emerging markets like Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa also present growth opportunities. Films need to translate and travel globally. Having IP or concepts that are familiar to worldwide audiences gives films the best chance to maximize global revenues. Screenwriters should keep the global picture in mind and think about how their stories will resonate in different cultures. 

To compete in today's globalized movie industry, the international audience has never been more important.

Understanding the industry has never been more important

By understanding these crucial industry trends, screenwriters can strategically develop the kinds of movies and shows that will resonate in 2023 and beyond. Tools like Arc Studio screenwriting software can help writers craft and fine-tune the next great stories that will capture the cultural moment and cut through the noise. The future for entertaining and meaningful stories has never been brighter.

Download Arc Studio here for FREE today.


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From Streaming Wars to Superheroes: What Screenwriters Need to Know In 2023
Harry Verity

Harry is a professional writer. His first novel The Talk Show was published in the U.S and the U.K by Bloodhound Books in 2021 and he is currently working on adapting it for screen using Arc Studio. He's also written for Media Magazine - a UK magazine for students of A-level Film, Media and Television Studies. His journalism has appeared in The Guardian, Readers' Digest and Newsweek, amongst many other publications. He has just finished his second novel for young adults, set in a boarding school. He holds a BA in English from Loughborough University.

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