Are kid-friendly movies such as G-Force more profitable and less costly to make than R- or PG-rated movies? Alice Troup, RIVERVIEW, MICH.
I think it depends on the movie. Some kids' movies are very expensive to make. It depends on if it's a big animated movie like a Shrek or a Lion King. The rating has nothing to do with the cost of the film.
How can you tell which scripts will make good films? Jimmy Kain, SHANGHAI
You don't really know. You just go with your gut and hope that from all of your years of experience in making movies, you have good instincts about the material you like and want to bring to an audience.
From National Treasure to Confessions of a Shopaholic, your work in film has been very diverse. Is there a type of film you haven't done yet that you really want to do? James Vega, CHICAGO
We keep exploring new things. I haven't done a real thriller in a long time, so that's something we're thinking about doing.
A lot of times you hear about producers interfering in a director's vision for a film. Why do producers get such a bad rap in Hollywood? Brent Kossina, ORLANDO, FLA.
I guess you always look at the authority figure as someone you want to get around. It depends how you do it. In our case, when we make movies, the director, the producer and the studio are all on the same page about what movie they want to make. [Problems arise] when one of those participants is making a different movie. Hopefully, you work out all those things before you make the film.
Do you get defensive when people talk about your work as escapist entertainment? Dexter Coronado, MANILA
No, I don't get offended at all. What I try to do is entertain people. If I make big blockbusters that are fun for people to watch and take them away from their daily lives, then I've done my job.
Does an unknown writer have any chance of getting a script read by a studio or put into production? Stewart Stafford, DUBLIN
Of course. Every writer in Hollywood started by writing a screenplay and getting recognition. If the movie didn't get made, it at least got noticed by somebody--a producer or an agent. If someone is prolific and keeps working at it, they're going to do it. You've just got to keep writing. I'm sure we could show you instances of very famous screenwriters whose first screenplay wasn't very good. They just kept at it.
Why do studios pay such enormous salaries for certain stars? Melissa Kennedy BERWYN, PA.
Usually, stars are paid what they will bring in at the box office. So if you get, let's say, Will Smith, you're guaranteed to get his salary or more the first weekend, just by his name alone. The movie doesn't have to be fantastic. But he certainly draws people in, and that's why we pay him the money.
Does knowing the secrets of movie magic ever take some of the fun out of watching the final cut? Max Gaerson ORLANDO, FLA.
Never. It's always about great storytelling and great characters. When you see a really brilliant film, even though there's technique involved, you're not aware of it because the characters are so engaging.
Are we really going to see a Pirates of the Caribbean 4? Oguz Akyol DENIZLI, TURKEY
God, I hope so. I can't wait to see it. We are working on a screenplay right now, and hopefully that will come together. These things are difficult to get right. We know Johnny [Depp] is interested in doing it, so that's a good start.
What is the best way to boost the movie industry? James Xabregas BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA
Make good films. That's the only way. As long as we make really engaging films that people want to see and are entertained by, we'll keep making a lot of movies and audiences will flock to theaters.