The Black List: 2018 Hollywood’s Best Un-produced Screenplays
The 2017 Black List screenplays are out. For those of you that don’t know, The Black List is a list of Hollywood’s most liked and unproduced screenplays. To make it on the list is an honor and can launch as screenwriter’s career. This year’s list has an unprecedented amount of screenplay by and about women. This year’s crop of scripts looks amazing. Congratulations to all these amazing screenwriters.
What is The Blacklist?
Are you a good screenwriter? Do you have a script tailor-made for the next box office hit but can’t seem to get it noticed by a super agent or a major production outfit? Your Knight in shining armor could just be Leonard Franklin, the founder of The Black List.
The Black List has made a name for itself as the savior of the best, unproduced movie scripts in Hollywood. This is not just an exaggeration. The stats bear that out.
Since the inception of the list in 2005, over 300 scripts from the list have been produced into feature films. With the top-notched screenwriting, it is no surprise accolades for the movies include almost 300 Academy Awards nominations.
From those nominations have come 48 awards in categories such as Best Picture for movies like The King’s Speech, Argo, Slumdog Millionaire, and Spotlight.
Also, movies made from The Black List have dominated the screenwriting top prize, winning half of the last twenty Oscars in the screenwriting category.
Starting The Black List
The year was 2005. Franklin Leonard, a 2000 magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University, was working at Appian Way Productions. His boss was Leonardo di Caprio. His job was to look for great scripts for the famous actor.
From his point of view, he was not doing a great job. So in a last desperate attempt to do something different, he hit on the idea that gave birth to The Black List.
He contacted 75 of his peers in other production companies with a simple request. They should give him a list of their best scripts that never got produced. In return, he promised to send them a collated list of the best, unproduced scripts in Hollywood.
He called this collated list The Black List.
Since that humble beginning, industry watchers wait in anticipation for the annual publication of the list. These days, some of the hidden gems in screenwriting can be found on the list.
John August, (Aladdin, Big Fish)
Jim Uhls (Fight Club)
Daniel Knauf (HBO Showrunner)
Making The Black List
Franklin Leopard is always quick to tell the world that his list is not about promoting movies or the next big Hollywood box office hit. To him, the story written in the scripts is more important.
Even more important than that is the celebration of excellent screenwriting. So screenwriters are the number priority of The Black List.
However, the public is more concerned about what makes one screenwriter eligible to get on the list while others never, apparently, get a sniff.
To put this in context, over 50,000 scripts are written every year. Only a fraction of that become movies. And an even smaller number make it to the list.
Basically, a pool of over 500 industry insiders is asked to vote anonymously from a list of the best, unproduced scripts. Most of them send in their votes. The votes are tallied and the scripts are ranked according to the number of votes.
Scripts with the highest votes make it to the top of the list and so on.
Once a script gets on that list, a buzz is created around it. It is just a matter of time before it gets noticed by the people who matter.
It is a testament to the importance of The Black List that hit films like Looper (2012), Prisoners (2013), Whiplash (2014), The Social Network (2010), etc., first got public traction there.
The Black List 2017
All My Life, Todd Rosenberg
After discovering the groom has liver cancer, a couple move their wedding date up and get married before he passes away.
American Tabloid, Adam Morrison
The true story of Generoso Pope Jr., who with the help of the New York mob turned a small, local paper into the phenomenon that is The National Enquirer, laying the foundation for tabloid journalism as we know it today.
Bios, Craig Luck, Ivor Powell
In a post-apocalyptic world, a man spends his dying days with the robot he created to look after his dog.
Cancer Inc, Marc Macaluso
The true story of the corporatization of cancer in the United States told through the eyes of a British Wall Street analyst who uncovers the corruption behind the approval of a drug intended to treat prostate cancer.
Where I End, Imran Zaidi
In a world where your life can be saved, uploaded to a computer, and restarted in the case of your untimely demise, a husband returns from the dead, suspecting his wife may have been involved in his death.
Keeper of the Diary, Samuel Franco and Evan Kilgore
Chronicles Otto Frank’s journey, with the help of a junior editor at Doubleday Press, to find a publisher for the diary his daughter Anne wrote during the Holocaust.
Daddio, Christy Hall
A passenger and her cab driver reminisce about their relationships on the way from the airport to her apartment in New York.
Let Her Speak, Mario Correa
The true story of Senator Wendy Davis and her 24-hour filibuster to save 75 percent of abortion clinics in Texas.
Ruin, Matthew Firpo and Ryan Firpo
A nameless ex-Nazi captain must navigate the ruins of post-WWII Germany to atone for his crimes during the war by hunting down and killing the surviving members of his forme
The Fifth Nixon, Sharon Hoffman
Watergate as experienced through the eyes of President Richard Nixon’s personal secretary Rose Mary Woods.
The Grownup, Natalie Krinsky
Based on the short story “The Grownup” by Gillian Flynn. A con woman who pretends to read auras is hired by a wealthy woman to banish an evil spirit from her house, but it is soon clear that the fake exorcist is in over her head.
Skyward, Joe Ballarini
The true story of two families who attempt to escape over the Berlin Wall using a hot air balloon in 1979.
The Sleepover, Sarah Rothschild
When bad guys break into their home and kidnap their parents, siblings Kevin and Clancy are forced to confront the fact that there may be way more to their stay-at-home mom than meets the eye.
The White Devils, Leon Hendrix III
Cassius raises his sons, Malcolm and Mandela, isolated and alone in the woods. They have never met another person in their entire lives.The boys have learned to survive and protect their fragile family at all cost. When they find a mysterious wounded white girl, June, alone and lost in their woods, prejudice, lies and love set them on a collision course with the real world that puts all their lives at risk.
Meat, Logan Martin
A misanthropic man notices bizarre changes in himself, his wife, and the animals inhabiting the territory around their homestead as they attempt to survive self-imposed isolation.
Green Rush, Matt Tente
A paroled ex-con agrees to help his daughter steal medical marijuana tax dollars from city hall.
Health and Wellness, Joe Epstein
A sociopath obsessed with self-improvement claws her way to the top of the fitness world, leaving a trail of broken bodies in her wake.
Little Boy, Hayley Schore and Roshan Sethi
The true story of the man who dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima and his unexpected journey back to ground zero.
On, Ryan Jennifer Jones
In a slightly futuristic/hyper-efficient Manhattan, a newly single book editor purchases a customizable sex android to assuage her broken heart. When her toy’s closed feedback loop starts to alter her personality, she must reevaluate the merits of a perfectly compatible partner.
Panopticon, Emily Jerome
A look at the criminal justice and private prison system, told from the perspectives of a new inmate, a correctional officer, and a Wall Street hotshot.
Queen Elizabeth, Shatara Michelle Ford
An uptight, high-achieving, black post-grad who becomes (increasingly) irreverent and (slightly) destructive when she realizes that the life she’s living is not the life she wants.
The Poison Squad, Dreux Moreland and Joey DePaolo
Based on the true story of Harvey Wiley, an eccentric chemist who conducted the first experiment on human tolerance to poison, which catalyzed a movement resulting in the founding of the Food and Drug Administration.
The Prospect, Ben Epstein
Michael Jordan uses a year as a baseball prospect to find himself after his father’s death.
Rodney & Sheryl, Ian MacAllister-McDonald
Based on the unbelievable true story of serial killer Rodney Alcala detectives have estimated Alcala’s body count to be north of 130 victims.
Despite being in the midst of a killing spree, Alcala appeared on and won a date with one of the contestants on The Dating Game.
Social Justice Warrior, Emma Fletcher and Brett Weiner
When a liberal, white college sophomore who knows exactly how to fix society accuses her equally liberal professor of hate speech, it throws the campus and both their lives into chaos as they wage war over the right way to stop discrimination.
The Thing About Jellyfish, Molly Smith Metzler
After her best friend drowns, a seventh-grade girl is convinced the true cause of the tragedy was a rare jellyfish sting. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory.
Jihotties, Molly Prather
In an effort to fund their start-up, two women catfish ISIS and get more than they bargained for when the CIA recruits them as spies.
The Lodge, Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala (Previous draft and original idea by Sergio Casci)
A supernatural evil haunts a woman and her stepchildren in a cabin on Christmas.
Ballerina, Shay Hatten
After her family is murdered, an assassin seeks revenge on the killers.
Escape, JD Payne and Patrick McKay
When a wrongly accused man is shipped to an Australian penal colony for five years, he quickly realizes his only chance of seeing his family again is to escape the prison with a gang and survive the deadly terrain that awaits on the outside.
Gadabout, Ross Evans
In 1951, a manufacturing company stirs up curiosity when they publish a user’s manual to a time machine called Gadabout TM-1050.
Heart of the Beast, Cameron Alexander
A former Navy SEAL and his retired combat dog attempt to return to civilization after a catastrophic accident deep in the Alaskan wilderness.
Innocent Monsters, Elaina Perpelitt
A writer struggling to crack her second novel starts to lose her sense of reality as the book bleeds into her life and her life bleeds back.
The Kingbreaker, Andrew Bozalis and Derek Mether
A CIA operative experienced in taking down kings and installing their replacements is brought in to take down a dictator he helped install a few years prior.
Liberation, Darby Kealey
The true story of Nancy Wake, the most decorated servicewoman in World War II, who led resistance fighters in a series of dangerous missions in Nazi-occupied France.
Call Jane, Hayley Schore and Roshan Sethi
Before Roe v. Wade in 1960s Chicago, a pregnant woman becomes a member of an underground group which provides abortions in a safe environment.
Dorothy & Alice, Justin Merz
Dorothy Gale and Alice meet in a home for those having nightmares and embark on a journey to save the imaginations of the world.
Greenland, Chris Sparling
A disgraced father is determined to get his family to what, in four days, will be the only safe place on earth.
The Other Lamb, Catherine McMullen
A young female coming-of-age story set within an alternative religion.
This Is Jane, Daniel Lofin
Based on the book The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service by Laura Kaplan. An ordinary group of women provide 11,000 safe, illegal abortions in Chicago from 1968 through 1973.
Wyler, Michael Moskowitz
With Hitler laying waste to Europe and the United States refusing to answer the call to war, Jewish filmmaker William Wyler risks his career to make Mrs. Miniver, the most effective propaganda film of all time.
The Boxer, Justine Juel Gillmer
A young Polish man escapes from a concentration camp in which he was forced by SS agents to box other Jews, travels to America to begin a successful career as a professional boxer, and reunites with the woman he lost.
George, Jeremy Michael Cohen
The true story of the Reys, the husband and wife team who fell in love, created Curious George, and escaped the horrors of WWII in Europe together.
Hack, Mike Schneider
Based on actual reports, a horrifying look inside the Democratic National Committee hack and the Russian manipulation of the 2016 election.
Lionhunters, Will Beall
A rogue cop suffers a gunshot wound in 1987 and wakes from a coma thirty years later, where he is partnered with a mild-mannered, progressive detective his son.
The Saviors, Travis Betz and Kevin Hamedani
A seemingly progressive suburban husband and wife renting their garage through Airbnb become suspicious of their Muslim guests. As they investigate their visitors, they unwittingly trigger events that will forever change the course of human history.
Strongman, Nicholas Jacobson-Larson and Dalton Leeb
Based on the confusing, sometimes offensive, borderline-insane memories of David Prowse, the irascible Englishman behind Darth Vader’s mask.
Arc of Justice, Max Borenstein and Rodney Barnes
Based on the book Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age, written by Kevin Boyle. Chronicles the landmark civil rights trial of Dr. Ossian Sweet after he was charged with the murder of a white man.
Don’t Be Evil, Gabriel Diani and Etta Devine, Evan Bates
Adapted from In the Plex by Steven Levy and I’m Feeling Lucky by Douglas Edwards. Google’s Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt struggle with their corporate motto, “Don’t Be Evil”, in the face of their meteoric rise to a multi-billion-dollar valuation and a major Chinese hacking incident.
Escape From the North Pole, Paul Laudiero and Ben Baker
A young girl partners up with an elf, a Russian explorer, and a reindeer to rescue Santa Claus from a band of evil elves and save the North Pole.
Fubar, Brent Hyman
An inept CIA psychologist is embedded on a globe-trotting mission with the agency’s most valuable operative who suffers from an extreme case of multiple personality disorder.
Infinite, Ian Shorr
Based on the The Reincarnationist Papers, written by D. Eric Maikranz. The hallucinations of a schizophrenic are revealed to be memories from past lives where he obtained talents that he still has to this day.
Kate, Umair Aleem
When a veteran hit woman is mysteriously poisoned on her last assignment in Tokyo, she has 24 hours to track down her killer before she dies.
Key of Genius, Daniel Persitz and Devon Kliger
The true story of Derek Paravicini, a blind, severely autistic boy who needed an incredible teacher to help realize his world-class musical ability.
Kill Shelter, Eric Beu and Greg Martin
A darkly comic crime thriller concerning three groups of people dealing with blackmail gone wrong.
Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know, Jade Bartlett
Based on the book trilogy Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know by Chloe J. Esposito. An underdog identical twin accidentally kills her too-perfect sister only to discover murder suits her as she becomes compulsively embroiled in the life of a mafia assassin.
Valedictorian, Cosmo Carlson
An obsessive type-A student vows to secure the valedictorian title before school ends by any means necessary, even murder.
Come As You Are, Zach Baylin
An idealistic young woman’s life begins to unravel when her job in social media exposes her to the darkest corners of humanity, sending her on a violent mission to take down not just the web’s most vicious content, but its creators as well.
Hughes, Andrew Rothschild
The story of writer-director John Hughes, whose emotionally honest high-school movies helped to define American culture in the 1980’s but who, at the very height of his success, abruptly abandoned filmmaking for reasons that have never been fully explained.
The Mother, Misha Green
A female assassin comes out of hiding to protect the preteen daughter she gave up years before.
One Thousand Paper Cranes, Ben Bolea
The incredible true story of Sadako Sasaki, a young girl living in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped. Years later when she gets leukemia, she hears about the legend that if someone folds one-thousand paper cranes, a wish will be granted. At the same time, aspiring writer Eleanor Coerr learns of Sadako’s story and becomes determined to bring her message of hope and peace to the world.
Ruthless, John Swetnam
After she is diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, a former assassin must carry out one last assignment in order to ensure her daughter’s future.
V.I.N., Chiara Towne
As Alex Haley struggles to write the autobiography of Malcolm X, his editor at Playboy assigns him a new interview: George Lincoln Rockwell, head of the American Nazi Party.
The Expansion Project, Leo Sardarian
A rookie Marine gets stranded on a hostile planet during humanity’s space colonization with nothing but her exo-suit that’s running out of fusion power.
Newsflash, Ben Jacoby
On November 22, 1963, Walter Cronkite puts everything on the line to get the story right as a president is killed, a frightened nation weeps, and television comes of age.
Trapline, Brett Treacy, Dan Woodward
A captive boy’s lifestyle is upended when his abductor asks for his help kidnapping a second child.
When in Doubt, Seduce, Allie Hagan
The true story of the early relationship between Elaine May and Mike Nichols.
The Man From Tomorrow, Jordan Barel
The true story of visionary entrepreneur Elon Musk, who after being ousted from PayPal, guides SpaceX through it turbulent early years while simultaneously building Tesla.
Moxie, Heather Quinn
To combat crime in near-future Los Angeles, the FBI creates supercops based on specific genetic sequences. To their shock, their best candidate is a vulgar stripper named Moxie.
Brosio, Mattson Tomlin
Inspired by the work of artist John Brosio. When a man begins to lose all of the people close to him in a series of increasingly absurd natural disasters, he must find out why his world has been turned upside down.
Power, Mattson Tomlin
When a young drug dealer is kidnapped by a man hell-bent on finding his missing daughter, they must team up to get to the bottom of the mystery of the intense street drug known as Power.
Jellyfish Summer, Sarah Jane Inwards
A young black girl’s family in 1960s Mississippi decides to harbor two human-looking refugees who have mysteriously fallen from the sky.
The Great Nothing, Cesar Vitale
A grieving 13-year-old girl hires a terminally ill, acerbic philosophy professor to prevent flunking the seventh grade. What begins as a homework assignment blossoms into an unlikely friendship and a new appreciation for life that neither will forget.
Sleep Well Tonight, Freddie Skov
Behind the walls of a maximum security prison, a naive teenage inmate and a rookie correctional officer are forced into a drug-smuggling operation, while a looming conflict between rival gang members threatens to boil over.
Breaking News in Yuba County, Amanda Idoko
After catching her husband in bed with a hooker, which causes him to die of a heart attack, Sue Bottom buries the body and takes advantage of the local celebrity status that comes from having a missing husband.
When Lightning Strikes, Anna Klassen
The true story of 25-year-old Joanne Rowling as she weathers first loves, unexpected pregnancies, lost jobs, and depression on her journey to create Harry Potter.
The Black List 2007-2016
Also, take a look at screenplays from past winners: