Every year since 2004, a list is compiled by Franklin Leonard, a studio executive in Hollywood, of 250 of the ‘most liked’ un-produced scripts of the year. These scripts aren’t necessarily the best scripts around, but are voted by over 250 studio and production company executives for the ones that are liked the most by those who read them. At the end of the year, the best unmade scripts are released in the form of a list and sent to all production companies, where the scripts get another chance of being seen and hopefully sent into production.
Since the Black List’s inception back in 2004, more than 987 scripts have made the list, with an incredible 301 scripts being produced. Of these films, highly successful films such as The King’s Speech, Slumdog Millionaire and Argo have all been made on the back of making it to the Black List. Other noticeable screenplays that come through the Black List have been Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained, The Wrestler, American Sniper and Whiplash. In spite of these scripts going un-produced beforehand, the number of films that went on to critical acclaim, even Oscar winning, is incredible. The total number of produced films have gone on to win 223 Academy Awards and 197 Golden Globe Awards.
2013’s Black List saw several highly successful films in 2014, including Clint Eastwood’s Oscar nominated drama starring Bradley Cooper. Also, Cake, starring Jennifer Aniston and Pan, the reimagining of the classic children’s story, Peter Pan, scheduled for release this year. So for 2015, the 2014 Black List was revealed at the end of last year, with a lot of buzz around the top yet-to-be-produced scripts. Starting with the most popular, we take a look at the top five scripts from the Black List, ones that will be worth keeping an eye out for in the next few year’s Oscar races.
Catherine the Great – 51 Likes
Kristina Lauren Anderson writes an engaging historical piece that explores the life of one of Russia’s most popular monarchs; Catherine the Great. The synopsis of the film focuses on Sophia Augusta as she takes control of her life, her marriage, and her kingdom, in becoming Russia’s most celebrated and beloved monarch. With such a strong response on the Black List, this film is surely set for production within the year, but as of yet, no further details have been revealed aside from being produced by Atlas Entertainment, previously known for all of DC Comics films since Christopher Nolan’s Batman begins, as well as Twelve Monkeys and Three Kings.
Rockingham – 38
Adam Morrison’s script delves into one of America’s most gripping scandals; the OJ Simpson trial. The screenplay focuses on the media frenzy of the trial, through the eyes of Simpson’s sports agent, Mike Gilbert, as well as Mark Fuhrman, a detective for the Los Angeles police department. Morrison, previously known for co-writing the 2011 indie romantic drama The Chateau Meroux, bases the title of the script on the infamous street that Simpson lived when he was accused of the double murder of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. The film has been gaining a lot of traction in Hollywood and will no doubt see a studio jump on board.
The Swimsuit Issue – 35
Randall Green, previously known for writing a big screen adaptation of the classic children’s cartoon, Scooby-Doo for Warner Bros, has made the top three in this year’s Black List with The Swimsuit Issue. The film follows a nerdy high-schooler, who fancies himself as an amateur photographer, attempts to create a ‘Swimsuit Issue’ featuring his high school classmates in the hope of raising enough cash to go to summer camp. The production company attached to this project is Atlas Entertainment, coincidentally the same company as the number one film on this list; Catherine the Great.
The Babysitter – 34
A lonely twelve year old boy in love with his babysitter discovers some hard truths about life, love, and murder. The highest ranking horror film on the Black List comes from Brian Duffield, a busy screenwriter who has previously written the adaptation of Insurgent, the sequel to Divergent, as well as Jane Got a Gun. Duffield also has a whole host of other projects in the pipeline through Wonderland Sound and Vision, director McG’s production company. His first directorial debut however, will be Vivien Hasn’t Been Herself Lately, a romantic horror drama.
Rothchild – 32
Referencing the powerful international banking family, the Rothschild’s, John Patton Ford’s centres around a young, well-educated loner who kills the members of his mother’s estranged family one-by-one in the hope that he will inherit the family’s vast fortune. Ford’s previous ventures into Hollywood came in the form of writing and directing the short film Patrol in 2010, a film that followed a disillusioned security guard who pretends to be a cop to impress his six year old son when he visits for the weekend. The production company behind Rothchild is Black Box Management, who have been behind plenty of successful films including the Hurt Locker, Dallas Buyer’s Club and Killer Joe.