Struggling artists love to share tales of unlikely success stories, like how Harrison Ford was working as a carpenter when he was discovered and cast in Star Wars, or how Mark Twain only published his first novel at the age of 41, or how Optimus Prime was working the grill at a Waffle House when he got the role in Transformers. And now, thousands of aspirational Facebook posts have a new contender: How the Reddit short story My Wife And I Bought A Ranch was bought by Netflix for millions of dollars.
In a fiery bidding war, Netflix made a seven-figure deal with Matt Query for the rights to his series of Reddit posts, with the production company behind Stranger Things taking the helm on the upcoming movie adaptation. My Wife And I Bought A Ranch is a somewhat popular series of creepypasta published on the subreddit /nosleep, a horror short story platform disguised as people asking Reddit for advice on how to deal with their werewolf issues. The story revolves around a married couple who buy a suspiciously cheap ranch in Idaho only to find out that, shocker, it's haunted. As the rituals to keep the malevolent spirit at bay escalate, an all-out war breaks out between the ghost and the ex-Marine protagonist, who graduated top of his Marine class and will use his training in guerilla warfare to shit fury all over this ghost -- sorry, wrong Reddit thread.
This also isn't the first time a Reddit post made its way into a Hollywood boardroom. The Patient Who Nearly Drove Me Out Of Medicine was once set to be produced by Ryan Reynolds. Meanwhile, Warner Bros picked up Rome, Sweet Rome, the famous Reddit story of a group of Marines (again) being teleported back to Ancient Rome to do battle with its legions, using their training gorilla warfare to shit fury all over -- no, hang, on, that's the other one again.
But while plenty of threads and articles are marveling how once again one of their own has been plucked out of obscurity solely because of talent, perseverance and a healthy dose of luck, Query's million dollar deal isn't really a victory for meritocracy. Instead, My Wife and I Bought A Ranch follows a much more traditional narrative: Matt Query knew a guy. Writing the movie adaptation of his Reddit story is Harrison Query, Matt's brother, and an established Hollywood screenwriter. Harrison also has ties with Netflix, already working with them on writing yet another adaptation of The Three Musketeers.
That's not to say that both Querys' success isn't well deserved (plenty of mediocre horror stories deserve a lot of money according to Hollywood), it's that it sends the wrong message to up-and-coming creatives. Sadly, talent scouts aren't scouring Reddit threads to launch someone into guaranteed stardom. Knowing the right people and having the right qualifications will always play a larger factor than raw talent. Harrison Ford was already a working actor who was good friends with Lucas when he got through the Hollywood door (after he was done building it). Mark Twain wasn't a corndog salesman but a respected travel writer when he got a publisher. Optimus Prime was the nephew of Megazord from Power Rangers and had a recurring gig on General Hospital.
And those other two Reddit movies? They're now dead in the water, the once-rising Reddit stars "never to be heard from again" -- almost as if studios don't know how to take something a few thousand people upvoted on Reddit and turn it into a hit. So despite the misleading Cinderella story of My Wife and I Bought A Ranch, it's not the right time for anyone without a brother in showbiz to quit their day jobs and become a full-time Reddit poster.
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