High-concept is a type of artistic work that can be easily pitched with a succinctly stated premise. [1] It can be contrasted with low-concept , which is more concerned with character development and other subtleties that are not as easily summarized. The origin of the term is disputed. [2]


High-concept narratives are typically characterized by an overarching “what if?” scenario that acts as a catalyst for the following events. Often, the most popular summer blockbuster movies are built on a high-concept idea, such as “what if we could clone dinosaurs?”, As in Jurassic Park .

However, it is important to differentiate a high-narrative concept from an analogous narrative. In the case of the latter, a high-concept story can be used to allow commentary on an implicit subtext . A prime example of this might be George Orwell ‘s Nineteen Eighty-Four , qui Asks, “What If We Lived in a future of totalitarian government?” how to be a social worker and how to be a critic at Orwell ‘s own (real world) contemporary society. Similarly, the Gene Roddenberry sci-fi series Star Trek went beyond the high-concept storytelling of a futurist starship crew, by addressing 20th centurysocial issues in a hypothetical and defamiliarizing context. Planet of the Apes (1968) Likewise engages in social commentary on race relations and other topics from the modern human society via the lens of the ape civilization, in part by co-writer Rod Serling to his experiences of anti-semitism. [3]


The term is also applied, often disparagingly, to be used in the context of a high-level concept, which is more broadly defined than that of a complex expression, cinematography , or other strengths. a production. Extreme examples of high-level movies are Snakes on a Plane and Hobo with a Shotgun , which describe their entire premises in their titles.

A movie described as being “high-concept” is considered easy to sell to a wide audience because it delivers on an easy-to-grasp idea. [4] This simple narrative can often be summed up with a single iconic image, such as the theme park logo from Jurassic Park . Along with having well-defined gender and aesthetics , high-concept movies have marketing guidelines known as “the look, the hook and the book”. [5]

  • The look of the film is simply visually appealing to the public, usually before its release. Jurassic Park Would show the world dinosaurs As They HAD never been seen before.
  • The hook is the story the movie is trying to sell to its audience. Dinosaurs would be able to survive the earth again after being extinct for 65 million years and they would coexist with people.
  • The book can be labeled as a product of the film. The merchandise in Jurassic Park was destined to sell well, with people wanting the T-shirts and lunch boxes that were shown for sale within the movie itself, with similar merchandise later to be sold at Universal Studios in the gift shop connected to the Jurassic Park wrinkled.

Commercial benefits

High-concept television series and movies Often Rely on pre-sold properties Such As movie stars to build anticipation hearing, and They Might use cross-promotional advertising campaigns with links to a soundtrack , music videos , and licensed merchandise Such As DVD box sets . They also apply market and test screening to the narrative (or even, in the case of Snakes on a Plane , the dialogue citation needed ] ) to ensure maximum popularity. Some commercial blockbuster movies are built as star vehicles for successfulmusic and sports personalities to enter the movie business. In such commercial vehicles, where the activity is less important than the saleability of the product brand, a high-concept narrative is often used as a “safe” option to avoid the risk of alienating audiences with convoluted or overly taxing plot exposure.



  • Planet of the Apes (1968), the original exemplifies the ” analogous ” category of the sequels and remakes
  • Jaws (1975)
  • Star Wars (1977)
  • Freaky Friday (1976, remade 1995, 2003)
  • AND the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
  • Tootsie (1982)
  • Ghostbusters (1984, remade 2016)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984, remade 2010)
  • RoboCop (1987, remade 2014)
  • Big (1988)
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
  • Groundhog Day (1993)
  • Jurassic Park (1993)
  • Last Action Hero (1993)
  • Speed (1994)
  • Toy Story (1995)
  • Independence Day (1996)
  • Space Jam (1996)
  • Liar, Liar (1997)
  • Face / Off (1997)
  • The Matrix (1999)
  • The Sixth Sense (1999)
  • Phone Booth (2002)
  • Cellular (2004)
  • Snakes on a Plane (2006)
  • Yes Man (2008)
  • The Invention of Lying (2009)
  • TiMER (2009)
  • Buried (2010)
  • Inception (2010)
  • Grabbers (2012)
  • Ted (2012)
  • Inside Out (2015)
  • Monster Trucks (2016)
  • Downsizing (2017)


  • The Time Tunnel (1966-1967)
  • ALF (1986-1990)
  • Quantum Leap (1989-1993)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)
  • Two and a Half Men (2003-2015)
  • The Trial of Tony Blair (2007)
  • Dollhouse (2009)
  • The Execution of Gary Glitter (2009)
  • FlashForward (2009)
  • Wilfred (2011-2014)
  • Awake (2012)
  • Continuum (2012-2015)

See also

  • Elevator pitch
  • Log line


  1. Jump up^ Pressfield, Steven (April 25, 2012). “Writing Wednesdays: High Concept” . Steven Pressfield Online . Retrieved October 6, 2012 .
  2. Jump up^ Justin Wyatt,High Concept: Movies and Marketing in Hollywood(Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994) p. 8.ISBN 978-0-292-79091-9
  3. Jump up^ “Thought you’d sussed out Planet of the Apes? Think again” . theconversation.com . 2014-07-18 . Retrieved 2016-09-10 .
  4. Jump up^ High Concept Defined Once and For Allfrom WritersStore.com
  5. Jump up^ http://www.utexas.edu/utpress/excerpts/exwyahig.html
  • Truby, John. The Anatomy of Story. 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller . New York 2007. p. 17.
  • High Concept: Movies and Marketing in Hollywood by Justin Wyatt, 1994.
  • Heitmuller, Karl. “Sometimes ‘High Concept’ Is Just Plain Old Awful.” MTV News , July 11, 2006.