Hyde Park Entertainment has picked up Lee Batchler and Janet Scott Batchler's drama spec Jack and Dick. The story will follow John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon's careers as friends and political rivals leading up to their presidential debate. Ashok Amritraj and Alan Gasmer are set to produce. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. is moving forward with Josh L. Gordon's untitled sci-fi/thriller. Set in a near-future world where advances in artificial intelligence are threatening the human race, Gordon's spec follows a young engineer who finds herself involved in a billionaire's plan to alter the fate of humanity. Next up: Tyler MacIntyre and Chris Hill's horror/thriller spec Nightlight has found a home at Columbia Pictures. Nightlight follows a 10-year-old boy who fends off invaders when he's left home alone. Tyler MacIntyre is set to direct as well. Finally, Screen Gems and Royal Viking Entertainment are teaming for Peter A. Dowling's Exposure. His action/thriller spec centers on an African American rookie cop who has to fend for her life after she captures corrupt officers murdering a drug dealer on her body cam.
Other script sales:
- Writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers are set to return for the Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel.
- Glenn Ficarra and John Requa are set to write the Harley Quinn and Joker spinoff for DC and Warner Bros. The writing team may also produce and direct.
- Todd Phillips and Scott Silver are set to write an unrelated Joker origin story. Phillips to possibly direct, Martin Scorsese to possibly produce, and Leonardo DiCaprio to possibly star (at least according to rumors).
- Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley to adapt Olivia Koski and Jana Grcevich's illustrated book Vacation Guide to the Solar System for Paramount.
- Geneva Robertson-Dworet will write Captain Marvel for Marvel. Academy Award–winner Brie Larson will star.
- Lionsgate has picked up David Burke's female-led adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray. Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) will direct.
- And the female-led adaptation of License to Drive is moving forward at Twentieth Century Fox. The script will be written by Alisha Brophy and Scott Miles.
- And finally, Scott McGehee and David Siegel will write and direct that female-led adaptation of Lord of the Flies you've probably heard about on Twitter. This one's at Warner Bros.
The Library – Produced Scripts
Within the last decade, some might argue that comic book movies have become needlessly ubiquitous. Just looking at the major studios' upcoming slates can give the impression that Hollywood is simply in the superhero business, eschewing thoughtful character-driven films for tentpoles that feel almost interchangeable. The fate of the world is in jeopardy, special effects–ridden fight scenes ensue, hero saves the day, see you again next summer. The most successful superhero movies have either bucked that formula or twisted it to provide something fresh (take, for example, Deadpool's meta satire, Wonder Woman's feminist themes, or Logan's gritty western noir), but perhaps, none have done so more successfully than Legion.
Created by Noah Hawley of FX's Fargo and based on Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz's Marvel character, Legion ostensibly takes place in the X-Men universe, but the series plays more akin to a psychological, almost Lovecraftian or Lynchian horror movie than anything else. Sure, the majority of the characters are similar to the mutants we've grown to love (albeit with quirkier superpowers), but they ultimately take a back seat to the show's namesake David Haller. Portrayed by Dan Stevens, David suffers from a variety of mental illnesses including what seems to be dissociative identity disorder and self-medicates his problems. However, he doesn't realize that he may be, as another character notes, "the most powerful telepath we’ve ever encountered." Worst of all, he can't quite control his powers, making him perhaps the most dangerous mutant in the show, which is why a seemingly evil government organization, a more benevolent collective of mutants, and a mysterious cosmic entity all seem to want to get a hold of him.
Hawley leans heavily on David's delicate mental state to supply most of the show's suspense and horror, and it works on just about every level. The "devil with yellow eyes" and the "angriest boy in the world" continually haunt David's (and the audience's) dreams, and numerous set pieces set inside his past memories help keep audiences on the edge of their seats. At times, this feels less like an X-Men or Marvel show and more like American Horror Story with mutants. But that doesn't mean the show is all horror—David's mental state also allows Hawley quirky indulgences, including a Bollywood dance number in the show's pilot. Basically, Legion walks a very fine line in terms of its tone, but Hawley's writing and Stevens' committed performance help ground the show, at least as much as a show about a psychic, schizophrenic mutant who battles demonic cosmic entities can be grounded.
Beyond David's character, Legion features a stacked supporting cast, including the always brilliant Jean Smart, Bill Irwin and Jermaine Clement in quirky, hilarious, and heartbreaking supporting roles, and Aubrey Plaza, who turns in a bravura performance that the Emmys have somehow chosen to ignore. Also worth noting is the insane production design, which perfectly establishes the show's aesthetic while at the same time keeping its chronological setting ambiguous, much like FX/FXX's animated comedy Archer.
But all in all, it is rare to see a show so assured of its story and tone this early in its run. For comic book fans and non-fans alike, Legion breathes a demented breath of fresh air into a genre that has in some cases become too formulaic in plot. At very least, Twin Peaks just ended again, so you're going to need to fill your time somehow, right?
Through annual competitions, Script Pipeline discovers and develops writers of all levels for film and television, connecting them to producers, agents, and managers. Since 1999, several produced films and over $6 million in screenplay and TV pilot spec sales from alumni are credited to Script Pipeline’s unique, intensive process of long-term writer-to-industry facilitation. Contest finalists and winners work with Script Pipeline’s senior executives year-around, getting broader exposure for their work in addition to continuous, one-on-one development assistance.
Recent success stories include competition alum Evan Daugherty selling Snow White and the Huntsman to Universal for $3 million and later taking the lead on studio projects Divergent, Ninja Turtles, and the upcoming Rose Red from Disney and Earthseed from Paramount. Evan was previously attached to write the limited series Esmeralda for ABC Studios, GI Joe 3 for Paramount, an adaptation of Myst for Hulu, and the Tomb Raider reboot. His contest-winning script Killing Season (formerly Shrapnel) was produced and starred Academy Award-winner Robert De Niro and John Travolta.
Tripper Clancy, another former Script Pipeline Screenwriting Contest winner, sold the road comedy The Ambassadors to 20th Century Fox and the pitch Winter Break to QED International, and was previously attached to write the comedy Stranded for Sony. Tripper is currently writing the animated comedy Shedd for Paramount, in addition to Hacker Camp for Hasbro. In April 2016, he sold the spec Stuber to Fox for the mid-six figures, and in May 2017 was brought on board for an adaptation of the bestselling novel The Art of Fielding.
Micah Barnett, whose work was developed through Script Pipeline coverage services, sold The Rabbit to Warner Bros. for six-figures and a TV pilot, Ricochet, to NBC. Screenwriter Brian Watanabe had his Script Pipeline “Recommend” action/comedy, Rogue’s Gallery (later titled Operation: Endgame), also initially developed by Script Pipeline, produced by Michael Ohoven (Capote) and Sean McKittrick (Get Out). The film starred Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover), Adam Scott (Parks and Rec), Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent), Maggie Q, Ellen Barkin, Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul), and an ensemble cast. The Living Wake, Script Pipeline’s first produced film starring Academy Award-nominee Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) and comedian Mike O’Connell (Dr. Ken), received high praise when it made its festival debut in 2010.
In October 2017, production will begin on the 2015 Script Pipeline contest-winning screenplay Militia, written by Henry Dunham. Henry will make his directorial debut with the crime/thriller. The film is set to star Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead) and Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire). Madhouse Entertainment signed Henry a few weeks after he was announced as the winner of the competition, with UTA following suit.
Jen Goldson, another 2015 contest selection, saw her romantic comedy Off the Menu produced in 2016, starring Santino Fontana (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) and Dania Ramirez (Devious Maids). Jen was introduced to director Jay Silverman at a Script Pipeline event, and the screenplay went into production in less than a year. The film will be released in 2017.
A number of original feature and TV projects are in various stages of development, and well over 100 writers have signed with representation or had their work optioned as a result of facilitation. With Script Pipeline execs actively expanding their industry network on a daily basis, the company is continuously on the hunt for quality material to co-produce or help put into production.
By the end of 2017, it’s estimated that 15,000 screenplays, pilots, and original pitches will have been reviewed through the competitions, making Script Pipeline the leading review outlet for writers worldwide.
*Industry requests to review material from Script Pipeline writers can be made here.