I’ve confirmed that Disney is telling its on-the-lot producers that the film studio is out of development money right now. So no new script purchases and no filling open writing assignments openings until September at the earliest. That’s because Disney will be tapped out until the funds are replenished in October because of the way its fiscal year works. Things are so bad that the film studio’s line was “…except for Bruckheimer” for a while — but apparently even mighty Jerry is going to have to use his own funds if he wants to continue developing material. It’s not like this wasn’t expected, but this time around it’s more severe, I hear. When profits at the film studio sank a whopping 97% last quarter, because Disney’s slate bombed in the midst of Hollywood’s box office boom, boss Bob Iger forced the film studio to what he called “address costs at virtually every level” which meant cutting back even further the film studio’s pic output, production budgets and marketing costs.
The rest of the 2009 studio development business is in piss-poor shape. “It’s crazy how shitty the spec market has been this year, especially given what a debacle 2007 and 2008 were,” a source tells me. MGM is fighting to survive. Universal and Warner Bros will develop a little right now. Paramount desperately wants to make money so, if anything, it wants to speed up development. But there are still those leftover DreamWorks projects there. Fox is proceeding normally for this time of year. By contrast, sources at production companies with deals on the Sony lot — yes, there are still a few — claim SPE is flush. (Also, its fiscal year just begun.) “They’d actually like to buy more spec scripts but just haven’t found much that’s gotten them excited,” a tipster tells me. “There’s no problem in Culver City. Sony’s giving certain producers the greenlight to fill open writing assignments.”