Each December since 2004, studio executive Franklin Leonard has compiled the best unproduced screenplays of the year, as voted by hundreds of execs, agency guys, and high-level assistants. Titled The Black List, the compendium highlights both established screenwriters and up-and-comers, and has served as a launching pad in the past for projects like Juno, Lars and the Real Girl, and (500) Days of Summer. Last year’s list included Margin Call, Crazy, Stupid, Love, The Hunger Games, and Snow White and the Huntsman.

It should be noted that the headline is somewhat misleading — some of these screenplays have already been acquired and are already in development, though according to Leonard none will have entered principal photography by December 31, 2011. Also worth pointing out is that, as in previous years, there have been rumors that some of the participants have been accused of using the Black List to promote their own clients or friends. Finally, as Leonard reminds us each time, “The Black List is not a ‘best of’ list. It is, at best, a ‘most liked’ list.”

Regardless, we can always rely on the Black List to stir up conversation among both industry insiders and outside spectators alike, so without further ado, hit the jump for the complete 2011 list.

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Get ready for Merlin to be the new Snow White, or the new Linda Lovelace, or whatever icon studios and producers decide to compete over next. Warner Bros. has just tapped Ed Whitworth, a former journalist who evidently has experience as a script reader for Oprah Winfrey’s company, to adapt the T.A. Barron youth-lit novel The Lost Years of Merlin.

Surprise, surprise, this would be a Merlin origin tale, following “Merlin’s journey from being a boy washed on the shores of Wales with no memory and no home, to him becoming a young man learning to use his powers and ultimately defender of the natural world and eventual mentor to King Arthur.” (This project was once at Paramount, but the option lapsed and WB stepped in. It is also different from the modern-day Merlin story that Working Title was putting together last year.) [THR]

After the break, Max Landis picks up a pipe, and a good genre director tries his hand at kids’ holiday fare. Read More »