Hadn’t really ever paid much attention to The Black List in the past, but after the last couple of years I’m now giving the list a bit more than just a passing glance. The Black List is an annual list of Hollywood’s most liked unproduced screenplays published by Franklin Leonard on the second Friday of December each year. It began in 2004 as a survey with contributions from 75 film studio and production company executives. In 2008, 260 executives contributed their opinions and this year, there were 97 scripts and 311 people contributing to the rankings.
Franklin Leonard has been named by “The Hollywood Reporter” as one of the top 35 executives under 35 working in Hollywood and his list has gained even more prominence. The top 10 (actually, 11, due to a tie) is filled with mostly up-and-comers, with the exception of Aaron Sorkin and David Scarpa. All of the scripts are in some stage of development around Hollywood, with two of them currently in production.
Since its inception, dozens of screenplays that appeared on the list have been optioned, produced, and released, many to great commercial success. Two of the top three screenplays on the inaugural 2005 list – Juno and Lars and the Real Girl went on to be nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars, with Juno winning the award.
Here are the Top Ten (eleven). Any of these get you excited?…
1. The Muppet Man By Christopher Weekes
What it’s about: The life and times of the late Jim Henson (pictured), the man behind “Sesame Street” and “The Muppet Show.”
What it’s like: The Andy Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon, but with puppets. This moving story depicts the life of a creative genius, with occasional surreal appearances by the likes of Kermit and Miss Piggy.
Status: Set up at The Jim Henson Co.
2. The Social Network By Aaron Sorkin
What it’s about: Chronicles Mark Zuckerberg’s complicated journey towards creating Facebook. Sorkin depicts both the founder’s motivations for starting the largest social network in the world and the human casualties that came with his profound success.
What it’s like: The fascinating biographical elements of Shattered Glass meets the courtroom drama of Kramer vs. Kramer, without the tears. Sorkin cuts between Zuckerberg’s heated depositions with his former Harvard colleagues who claimed he stole Facebook from them and the chronological retelling of the company’s trip to becoming a billion-dollar enterprise.
Status: In production for Sony Pictures. Jesse Eisenberg plays Zuckerberg while Justin Timberlake portrays Sean Parker, one of the founders of Napster and Zuckerberg’s idol. David Fincher is directing.
3. The Voices By Michael R. Perry
What it’s about: Jerry, a schizophrenic worker at a bathtub factory, accidentally kills an attractive woman from accounting. While trying to cover his bloody tracks, Jerry starts taking advice from his talking (and foul-mouthed) cat and dog.
What it’s like: Watching the lovable pig from Babe join forces with American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman. Some may be turned off by the script’s twisted sense of humor – Jerry has friendly conversations with his victim’s severed head – while others will get a kick out of its sheer audacity.
Status: Vertigo Entertainment is trying to package the film with a lead actor. Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo) is developing.
Would you like to know more…?