Universal stories are commercial garbage; that’s the common thinking of the amateur screenwriters – STOP this thinking, please. Usually, beginners want to “write with their hearts”, but they don’t understand the difference between a screenwriter and a novelist. There’s a great difference: the novelist writes a book, where people read, and I said: READ. The screenwriter writes a guide, he shows the story, and I said: he SHOWS.
We’re talking about a millionaire industry, and it means a lot of money. You’re the base of this gear, the person who creates the wheel, so, you have to be highly precise and meticulous from the very beginning.
We can see, mainly in the American industry, a big example about the importance of the universal stories. In 2016, many Hollywoodian blockbusters failed in the USA, but the same blockbusters were successful in the other markets around the world.
Warcraft, (Legendary Pictures), written by Charles Leavitt and Ducan Jones, with Travis Fimmel (Vikings) in the cast, has grossed US$ 47.2 million in North America and US$ 386.3 million in other territories for a worldwide total of US$ 433.5 million. Given its US$ 160 million budget, The Hollywood Reporter reported the film needs to earn at least US$ 450 million to break-even. And if you want to know, US$ 220 million came from China.
The same thing happens with other features.
The Legend of Tarzan
Cost of production: US$ 180 million.
Its income: US$ 126 million (USA), US$ 228 million (worldwide).
Cost of production: US$ 144 million.
Its income: US$ 125 million (USA), US$ 217 million (worldwide).
Did you get it? Local market is always uncertain, so, when you write universal stories, for example: common feelings and situations, you can talk with the largest audience (market share). All stories can be universal: drama, comedy, terror, etc.
Here a simple example, take a look:
A Gaúcho man has to keep the running of his CTG, because the Pampas’ culture can’t die with the new influences.
Hey! What’s a Gaúcho? What’s a CTG? What’s Pampas? Gaúcho is a people in the southern Brazil and CTG (in Portuguese) means: Center of the Gauchos’ Traditions. Pampa is the name of the Gaúcho territory. Ok, but, what’s the meaning of this to a Swedish person or a Chinese person? How people around the world will identify themselves with your story about Gaúcho?
A southern Brazilian cowboy has to save his yerba mate plantation, which subsidizes all his family, however, he must fight against a multinational of the agro toxics, which is poisoning the region fields with lethal chemical elements.
Wow, we get a movie now. Here you may SHOW the Gaúcho, the Pampas, CTG and all the folk’s culture, but the biggest plot is universal: conspiracy, fight by the family, ethic, agro toxics (poison on your table), human cruelty, human courage, fear, love, death, etc. This kind of story is a modern version of David and Goliath, you know? It’s the narrative of the simple man against the giant.