Crypto film rights
April 23, 2005 3:06 PM   Subscribe

Have the film rights to Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon been sold? In general how does one discover the answer to such a question (what the kids call google-fu is weak with me)?
posted by OmieWise to Media & Arts (22 answers total)
Often IMDB will mention when a movie is in pre-production stages, although in your case it doesn't return anything.
posted by furtive at 3:10 PM on April 23, 2005

I would think Cryptonomicon to be too high-concept for any big-budget filmmaker. It would make a great indie project though.
posted by mischief at 4:06 PM on April 23, 2005

Publisher's Weekly and (on the other side) Variety and Hollywood Reporter are pretty good in terms of picking up movie sales. While none has free full-text archives, they all let you search and see headlines of matching stories.

Only Variety has two hits for it. The hits likely indicate either that the book is optioned (or, more likely, sold) or that Stephenson was hired to do something else, and they mentioned it in his thumbnail.

You could copy the dates and go to a reasonably good metro or university library, Variety is subscribed to by most sizeable libraries.
posted by MattD at 4:15 PM on April 23, 2005

I should say that I'd be very surprised if there were any Stephenson book which isn't optioned. Once the original Matrix blew off the doors, producers got quite aggressive in terms of optioning pretty much any high profile SF property which looked even a little bit cyberpunk. The simultaneous success of The Fellowship of the Rings and The Sorcerer's Stone led to the same thing happening for high profile fantasy books.

Now, options are cheap, and every producer in Hollywood probably has twenty options under his belt for every one feature he could realistically hope to get in the can, but it certainly means that people are working it.
posted by MattD at 4:24 PM on April 23, 2005

It would make a great indie project though.

No, it wouldn't. Too much location shooting in various historical periods and too much plot to fit into one film means that the project unfortunately demands the financial backing of a major studio. However, to recoup their investment, a studio would feel the urge to "dumb down" the film to give it wider appeal (starting with that unwieldy title) and thereby doom it to suck. Thus, the correct answer is: Cryptonomicon cannot be filmed.

Of all of Stephenson's novels, the much more straightforward Zodiac is IMHO the best choice for a motion picture adaptation, and it might well be doable on an indie budget.
posted by kindall at 6:18 PM on April 23, 2005

"Too much location shooting in various historical periods and too much plot to fit into one film"

All easily managed by a decent screenwriter.
posted by mischief at 7:41 PM on April 23, 2005

Best answer: Development Heck is as close as anything short of a full-on Variety subscription to keep track of all upcoming (maybe never) projects. Greg's Previews is about equivalent but only for movies that are likely to actually be released.

I agree with MattD: odds are that the book was optioned, perhaps even prior to publication. That hardly guarantees production, though. The best way to find out the answer to this question is to have your agent contact the publisher and ... well, okay, so you don't have an agent. But there likely is somebody in Hollywood who has the paperwork and periodically mentions it to people. There might even be a director or actor with a mild interest in doing it someday. But that still applies to hundreds, if not thousands, of worthy books.
posted by dhartung at 7:46 PM on April 23, 2005

In general, to find the answer to such a question, you would call or write the book's publisher and ask them. It's pretty easliy done.

I tried to buy the rights to PK Dick's A Scanner Darkly in 1989. I was about 250 grand short, however.
posted by dobbs at 8:29 PM on April 23, 2005

Zodiac would make one hell of a film, especially now. But who would play Sangamon?
posted by ..ooOOoo....ooOOoo.. at 9:41 PM on April 23, 2005

Owen Wilson.
posted by cortex at 12:17 AM on April 24, 2005

I'd rather see Snow Crash, it's the most cinematic of any of his books, if you ask me. And heaps of excuses to use Final Fantasyesque CGI.

Diamond Age would film OK as well. I have to say, being a science fiction nerd, I haven't enjoyed his conversion to "legitimate" fiction as much. OT, I know.
posted by Dag Maggot at 3:37 AM on April 24, 2005

Er, yes on Snow Crash, but no on Diamond Age. And no way in hell on Crypto - even though I was casting it in my head while I read it, the scope of the book is too big. It would be like trying to make a movie out of Gravity's Rainbow.

Too bad Brandon Lee died. He'd have been great to play Hiro Protagonist.
posted by TeamBilly at 6:54 AM on April 24, 2005

What? Nobody wants to see The Big U?

Actually his most filmable work has gotta be The Cobweb, written as Stephen Bury with one of his relatives.

And "Stephen Bury"'s Interface has been plagiarized into the newer Manchurian Candidate, more or less.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:31 AM on April 24, 2005

I don't know about The Baroque Cycle, but to me Snow Crash screams for an animated movie. The Baroque Cycle couldn't be done without gutting it I don't think, there are too many characters, too many subplots and not enough action for the average movie patron. Most likely if a movie was made it'd mostly be about half-cocked Jack.
posted by substrate at 7:53 AM on April 24, 2005

I think Bester's "The Stars My Destination" is crying out for a big budget seat-of-your-pants en-thriller-ification.
posted by By The Grace of God at 8:03 AM on April 24, 2005

You need to contact the author's agent or lawyer and find out. Or the author himself. It's not as difficult as it may sound. Another way is to go to the Library of Congress in which all copyrights are archived. I believe there are law students in DC who'll fish up that kind of information for less than a hundred dollars, but this is hearsay only, I've only used the first approach. Good luck.
posted by Panfilo at 10:02 AM on April 24, 2005

I agree that Snow Crash would be the one, if any, to make it to the screen. But I will hold out hope for Crypto. I'd love to follow Goto Dengo through his journeys. Who could play him?
posted by vito90 at 11:41 AM on April 24, 2005

All easily managed by a decent screenwriter.

It's a hell of a screenwriter that can make WWII happen in a warehouse.
posted by yerfatma at 11:42 AM on April 24, 2005

OK, sorry to be OT, but:

The Cobweb, written as Stephen Bury

Are you kidding me?! I loved that book, and have been waiting for years for Bury to follow it up. Man, I did the same thing with Richard Bachman years ago...
posted by Rock Steady at 12:03 PM on April 24, 2005

substrate: You know, I recall reading somewhere that Stephenson initially wanted to make Snow Crash as a completely CG graphic novel. Supposedly he sat down and wrote a whole assload of code to support the project, got frustrated, and just decided to make it into a novel. A fucking awesome one at that.

Vito90: Yeah, if a decent backer with a decent budget and an absolute dedication to every aspect of the story was involved, Cryptonomicon would be the greatest nine hours of film in history.
posted by baphomet at 12:45 PM on April 24, 2005

I have a Variety subscription; the two hits MattD refers to are both from 2000, and both say that Stephenson was consulting on 'Batman Beyond' -- neither mentioned Cryptonomicon, other than to say that Stephenson wrote it.
posted by littleme at 3:37 PM on April 24, 2005

Another way is to go to the Library of Congress in which all copyrights are archived.

A license and/or option is not a wholesale transfer of copyright, however, and probably would not be recorded by LoC. There's certainly no requirement to submit them to LoC.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:18 AM on April 25, 2005

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