Thanks for that, Steven. Indeed, I’ve read scripts which hit all the formulaic plot point page counts, but just don’t work as a story or worse, are lifeless and unimaginative. That’s one big reason why I promote character driven screenwriting because a writer will almost assuredly get to the story structure through that process AND tap into the heart and soul of the story via the characters.
Thanks, too, for your variations on Protagonist arcs. To be sure, there are all sorts of arcs: Negative arcs; stories in which Protagonists have the opportunity to change, but refuse; stories in which the Protagonist is the change agent. Therefore, as writers, we need to have the freedom to explore those type of stories no matter where the Protagonist’s transformation goes.
That said, Hollywood likes happy endings, so it’s not surprising the positive transformation arc is the default mindset there.