Posted on Monday, December 15th, 2014 by Peter Sciretta
The Black List 2014 has been released. The annual list is compiled with a poll of over 250 development executives and high-level assistants, and contains a ranking of the hot screenplays making the rounds in Hollywoodland, which were written in, or are somehow uniquely associated with, 2014 and will not be released in theaters during this calendar year. Basically, The Black List is a list of the hottest projects in Hollywood that you haven’t heard of yet.
Started in 2005 by a young executive at Leonardo DiCaprio‘s production company Appian Way, who polled 90+ peers to send him their 10 favorite new unproduced screenplays to read over the holidays. The underground list was e-mailed around and quickly became a Hollywood phenomenon. Not all of these films will get made, let alone made well, but the Black List still serves as a good indication of what projects are being buzzed about.
- To give you an idea, the top three entries of the 2005 list where Things We Lost in the Fire, Juno, and Lars and the Real Girl. Aaron Sorkin’s script for Charlie Wilson’s War was the #5 script on the first list, and David Benioff’s script for The Kite Runner followed just behind it.
- 2012’s list included Transcendence and Rodham; Django Unchained and Saving Mr. Banks were among the highlights the year before that.
- Movies based on Black List scripts have won 37 Oscars from 196 nominations.. Three out of the last six Best Picture winners were Black List scripts (Argo, The King’s Speech, Slumdog Millionaire), as were seven of the past fourteen screenwriting Oscar winners.
- More than 270 scripts from the previous nine annual Black Lists have been produced as feature films.
- Movies based on annual Black List scripts have made more than $23.2 billion at the worldwide box office.
However it should be noted that a warning appears at the beginning of the list:
“THE BLACK LIST is not a “best of” list. It is, at best, a “most liked” list.”
Also, it should be noted that many people in recent years have begun accuse participants for pushing their own/friends clients.
The full list of 70 screenplays can be found below. The number before the titles is the number of people who voted for the script. We are going from the top to the bottom. Our commentary, background information and insight can be found in the blockquotes.
CATHERINE THE GREAT
Kristina Lauren Anderson
Sophia Augusta takes control of her life, her marriage, and her kingdom becoming Russia’s most celebrated and beloved monarch: Catherine the Great.
Producer: Atlas Entertainment
The producer of a film called Girlfriend, which premiered at TIFF in 2010, hits the list’s top spot with a script exploring one of the most famous personalities in Russian history. It is set up at Chuck Roven’s Atlas Entertainment — he’s the producer who has been part of all of DC’s comic book movies since Batman Begins, in addition to having produced films like Twelve Monkeys and Three Kings. Atlas isn’t exclusively tied to Warner Bros., but for a film such as this, with a significant angle from history, WB seems like the most likely home for the project.
A look into the mania of the OJ Simpson trial, through the eyes of Simpson’s sports agent Mike Gilbert and Los Angeles Police Department Detective Mark Fuhrman.
The title of this script, from the co-writer of a 2011 indie romantic drama called The Chateau Meroux, refers to the name of the street in Brentwood where OJ Simpson lived at the time he was accused of murdering his estranged wife Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman. The mansion at 360 North Rockingham has long since been demolished (it was torn down in 1998) but the echoes of the Simpson murder case persist today.
THE SWIMSUIT ISSUE
A nerdy high schooler, who fancies himself an amateur photographer, attempts to create a “Swimsuit Issue” featuring his high school classmates in hopes of raising enough money to go to summer camp.
Randall Green’s most prominent attachment so far has been his gig writing the new Scooby-Doo film for Warner Bros. and Atlas Entertainment, the same company that is backing development of the #1 script on this year’s Black List. And the Scooby-Doo gig isn’t necessarily anything to laugh at — the last person to write a big-screen Scooby-Doo movie ended up directing a little movie called Guardians of the Galaxy.
A lonely twelve year old boy in love with his babysitter discovers some hard truths about life, love, and murder.
Producer: Wonderland Sound and Vision
The Babysitter is set up at McG’s production company Wonderland Sound and Vision. Duffield has been a hot screenwriter in Hollywood over the last year. He wrote the big screen adaptation and Divergent sequel Insurgent as well as Gavin O’Conner’s Jane Got a Gun which stars Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor. He has many projects in development, including Monster Problems (which I’ve heard is awesome), Tucker and Dale vs. Evil director Eli Craig’s Your Bridesmaid Is a Bitch and Vivien Hasn’t Been Herself Lately, a horror romdram that he is planning to make his feature directorial debut.
John Patton Ford
A young, well-educated loner kills the members of his mother’s estranged family one-by-one in hopes that he will inherit the family’s vast fortune.
The script’s title seems to reference the Rothschild family, which in the late 1800s was a powerful international banking family, and the holder of one of the world’s greatest privately-held fortunes. The writer of this pitch-black sounding story is the writer/director of a short film called Patrol from 2010, in which a disaffected security guard pretends to be a badass cop during his six-year old son’s weekend visitation. Production company Black Box Management has the small TV series Daddy Knows Best on its resume, but Voltage has been part of a set of films that includes the new Cabin Fever remake, and Dallas Buyers Club, The Hurt Locker, and Killer Joe.
A sniper and his spotter must kill and avoid being killed, separated from an enemy sniper by only a 16x6ft prayer wall.
Producer: Amazon Studios
Dwain Worrell is the writer of a China-set horror film called Walking the Dead, from 2010, and one of the writers on a film called Operator, which stars Mischa Barton, Ving Rhames, Luke Goss and Michael Paré. (Deadline described Worrell as “a Barbados-born, Boston-raised aspiring writer who moved to China for nine years. There, his Mandarin skills got him work translating and polishing content for the government-run TV station CCT, rewriting a script for a Chinese production company, teaching English and taking local acting jobs while he wrote on the side.”
And The Wall is set up at Amazon Studios, making it part of the company’s early foray into feature production to go alongside its burgeoning television output. The Wall was Amazon’s first spec script purchase, and is set to go into production in 2015 with a $5m budget.
Based on the documentary style film “The Day Britain Stopped” directed by Gabriel Range, an oil tanker collides with an Iranian patrol boat in the Strait of Hormuz, triggering a chain of tragic disastrous events.
Producer: Scott Free Productions
Based on a 90 minute BBC television drama which aired in 2003, and produced by Ridley Scott’s Scott Free production company. Contraband helmer Baltasar Kormákur is attached to direct and it has been reported that Cate Blanchett has been circling the project. Screenwriter/director Kieran Fitzgerald was nominated for an Emmy in 2009 for Outstanding Investigative Journalism in Long Form for the P.O.V. airing of his 2007 film The Ballad of Esequiel Hernández. He wrote the script for Tommy Lee Jones’ western drama The Homesman, and is also working with Oliver Stone and Ridley Soctt on other projects.
In near future London, a revolutionary technology has been invented that can record sounds hours after they were made. Detective Harry Orwell, inventor of this technology, is part of a pilot program where investigators record and analyze past sound waves and finds himself the prime suspect while investigating a string of brutal murders.
Producer: Film Nation
Krysty Wilson-Cairns trained at the National Film and Television School, London. She wrote an adaptation of the Charles Graeber book The Good Nurse which was optioned by Lionsgate earlier this month with Darren Aronofsky slated to direct.
A young woman, feeling directionless, stumbles upon a mysterious courtyard where she is transported into a sitcom-like universe, becoming a major character on this “TV show.”
Producer: Right Of Way
From Jason Reitman’s production company Right Of Way Films comes what sounds like a funny meta take on television’s sitcom format. Vasko is a newcomer and doesn’t even have an IMDb page.
A woman held captive in the futuristic smart house of a serial kidnapper realizes that her only hope of escape lies in turning the house’s sentient computer against its creator.
Producer: Russell Ackerman, John Schoenfelder
Producer Russell Ackerman started off as the assistant to Guillermo del Toro, working on Hellboy 2 and moved up to producing behind the scenes features for the director’s films. He’s now working as a producer on his own projects such as the film Cargo, which is in development now. Producer John Schoenfelder is also involved with Cargo.
Find out the rest of the Black List 2014 scripts on the next page.