My Google Alert recently picked up a lot of chatter on the Internet about a rumored Dilbert movie in the works. The rumor is ahead of the reality, as the project hasn't been funded, and there isn't yet a director, writer, or actor signed on. But I was fascinated by the reactions of the many movie web sites that weighed in with their opinions on whether it was a good idea to create a Dilbert movie.


Evaluating whether an idea is good enough for a movie is a bit like an automobile expert saying a certain brand of car doesn't taste good. It's absurd. You can only hold the opinion that a particular movie concept is a good or bad idea if you don't understand what a movie is or what an idea is.

For example, here's the world's worst idea for a movie: Titanic. It did okay at the box office.

Movies are good or bad because of execution, not concept. Even outside of the movie realm, ideas generally have no economic value whatsoever, except in rare cases such as when a patent is issued. And even in those cases it's the patent law that creates the value, not the ideas.

The self-appointed movie critics went on to point out that Office Space was already a movie, so there was no room left in the universe for a Dilbert movie. That's a bit like saying there's no point in creating a romantic comedy because someone already did that one. It's a fundamental misunderstanding of what a movie is.

I've long been fascinated by the common human illusion that ideas can be sorted into good and bad, when all experience shows this not to be the case. We could play the game all day long where I describe a simply terrible idea and then tell you about the people who got rich implementing it just right. Let's try a few...

How about a comic strip that is literally a bunch of stick figures? It will be called XKCD and have no discernable characters. Done! It's the most viewed comic on the Internet.

How about a movie about two gay cowboys? Done! Academy Award!

How about a comedic TV show about a Nazi concentration camp? Done! It was called Hogan's Heroes and was a hit in its time.

How about a Broadway musical about a bunch of frickin' cats? Done!

You'd be hard pressed to come up with an idea so bad that it couldn't succeed with the right execution. And it would be even harder to imagine a great idea that couldn't fail if the execution were left to morons.

Ideas are worthless. Execution is everything.

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Jun 20, 2010
reminds of a recent abstrusegoose comic where the intellect blames the senses.

Yes, execution is everything, but the starting point is an idea. then you get another idea about the first idea, on say, how would you go about implementing it. then at implementation stage, you get another idea about optimization...and so on !
its a like a pearl necklace...ideas are those pearls...and execution is the necklace !
-7 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 15, 2010
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0 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 11, 2010
I've got 8 bucks in my wallet and my wife says I'm always bossing her around, so now that you've got funding and a director all we need are some actors, right?
Jun 8, 2010
Since so many movies these days are ripped off, based-on or remakes, then, yes, Dilbert could work. It was already a show. I don't understand this criticism.

But don't be so sure that *any* idea could work. How many times have they tried to make some film that went wrong, no matter who the director was?
+10 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 8, 2010
If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.
- Albert Einstein
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 8, 2010
The examples that you give are exceptions. They are ORIGINAL ideas, from people woh dared to do something new. The opposite from what you get from marketing research.

A good idea e.g. is to make Avatar 2.

I give you that the execution is more important then the idea. You could probably f*ck up Avatar 2 by bad execution, but you'ld have to be very bad.
Jun 8, 2010
I agree with those who say the concept "A Dilbert movie" is not a complete idea, but just the germ of an idea that does not give enough information to tell whether the final product will be worthwhile or not. However, Scott is also right. Even a highly successful book, which is a completely realized idea in its current form, may or may not survive the transition to film, depending on how well it is executed. If you are an avid reader, I'm certain you can think of at least one book or story that you enjoyed but was brutally murdered on film.
Jun 8, 2010
@Jumper 23 - I second that thought strongly.

@Scott - I have been a reader of your blog for quite a while now and have been a quiet participant. I had immense respect for you and have always found you to be extremely sensible and interesting. But this last post of yours has chipped off a significant chunk of my respect for you.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 7, 2010
@Wizzlepig > Come on. Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lori Petty would be awesome.
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 7, 2010
what about santa fighting cardboard robots from mars? ohh, too late: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Claus_Conquers_the_Martians
Jun 7, 2010
Go ahead and make a Dilbert movie, it could be fun.

Just watch out for the potholes hit by Tank Girl, The Mask, and other poorly done comic-to-real-person efforts.

And please, do not cast Philip Seymour Hoffman as Dilbert- or Lori Petty, for that matter.
Jun 7, 2010
Ebert's Law: "A movie is not about what it is about. It is about how it is about it."
+11 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 7, 2010
Hogan's Heroes was actually about a POW camp. So to review, heroic American POWs pulling one over on Sergeant Schultz: funny; Hundreds of Jews, Romany Gypsies, homosexuals, blacks and poles living in conditions unfit for livestock: not funny.
Jun 7, 2010
Years ago I heard two DJs laughing their butts off at the idea that Tim Burton was going to make a movie about (...get this!) a guy with scissors instead of hands!!!! Oh, what a hoot! What is that whacky guy thinking about!

Jun 7, 2010
Years ago I heard two DJs laughing their butts off at the idea that Tim Burton was going to make a movie about (...get this!) a guy with scissors instead of hands!!!! Oh, what a hoot! What is that whacky guy thinking about!

Jun 7, 2010
"Ideas are worthless. Execution is everything."

Please, please tell that to the US Patent Office and the patent trolls...
-7 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 7, 2010
If you have a good idea that you want to share try www.bigady.com
Jun 6, 2010
FWIW the Titanic is not a bad idea at all. Disasters always make great theater.

Wanna know the worst idea for a movie? Gay cowboys.
Jun 6, 2010
I have an idea but not much clue as to how to execute it. I'm interested in sharing that idea with other people in order to bounce off them and get it off the ground (if it's viable), but am afraid that if I share it with too many people, someone will steal it. What does society offer me by way of solution to this problem? Does it help me or harm me that the idea is presently worthless but that it could turn into something valuable with the right execution? How much of the profit from this idea should I be willing to give up in order for it to be executed well (if I need someone else to do so) - all of it? Almost all of it?
Jun 6, 2010
No, some ideas are just plain bad-

Anne Frank II, The Musical: Don't get mad get even.
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