Look at some of the most popular and loved Disney animated films:
- The Little Mermaid
- Beauty and the Beast
- The Lion King
What do they have in common? They’re all basically love stories. Look at some of Disney’s flops and mediocre animated films: Treasure Planet, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Home on the Range, and Chicken Little. What do they have in common? They aren’t love stories.
Writing a love story isn’t a guarantee of success, but it can greatly improve your chances of success. Both men and woman, young and old like love stories because it’s a powerful emotion that everyone can relate to. Write a love story and your story will go a long way towards being marketable. The ultimate goal is for someone to read your story and think, “I can make money off this.”
Romantic comedies are popular because they combine love with humor. There are traditional romantic comedies like “The Proposal” where a woman pretends to be engaged to her assistant so she won’t be deported. There are raunchy romantic comedies like “The Wedding Crashers” that derives its humor from sex and crude situations. There are ordinary drama love stories like “Moonstruck” that focus less on comedy and more on the drama behind the lovers trying to get together.
Love stories are basically date movies. Think of what a couple on a date would both enjoy and that’s likely a good starting point for your story. If your story would only appeal to men or women, then you probably don’t have a date movie. Too much violence turns off women and too much emotional dialogue turns off men. You want a balance of both to appeal to everyone.
“Die Hard” is basically a love story disguised as an action film. That’s because the hero is trying to get back with his wife. “Titanic” is a love story disguised as a disaster movie. Even “Avatar” is a love story disguised as science fiction.
That’s why the most popular Disney animated films are often love stories. When Disney tries to go just for laughs, they wound up creating bombs like “Home on the Range” and “Chicken Little.” When they went back to making love stories, they created “Tangled,” “The Princess and the Frog,” and even “Frozen,” which is a dual love story.
First there’s the love of the hero (Anna) who wants to find true love in a man. Second there’s the love of the hero towards her sister (Elsa). Is it no surprise that “Frozen” turned out to be a monster hit while a weaker love story like “The Princess and the Frog” was less successful?
Of course, don’t feel the need to write a love story just for the market. However if you can incorporate a love story in your idea, then chances are good you’ll make your screenplay stronger just by adding a love story as part of your main story.
Love is an extremely powerful emotion that gets people into theaters and that means when studio executives see your screenplay and feel that emotion of love in your story, they’ll also see dollar signs and want to produce your screenplay as soon as possible.
Screenwriting is an art that only works if it gets produced, so your goal is to create art and business at the same time. That means don’t neglect love in your story. By adding a love story, you could make your overall screenplay that much stronger and more marketable, and that means getting it produced, which is the ultimate goal of any screenwriter.