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Script Pipeline

September 2017 Script Sales

By | Script Sales

Echo Lake Productions and Royal Viking Entertainment have picked up Sean Sorensen’s spec We Interrupt This Program, based on the true story of Orson Welles’ famous radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds and the ensuing panic. Disney has picked up Tarell Alvin McCraney’s musical romance script Cyrano the Moor, which will combine elements from Cyrano de Bergerac and Othello. David Oyelowo and Jessica Oyelowo are set to produce. Phoenix Pictures is moving forward with A Country of Strangers, Sean Armstrong’s 2012 Black List script. The story follows the true story of a 40-year investigation into the disappearance of three young children in Australia. Murray Miller’s untitled buddy cop comedy has found a home at Universal. John Cena and Kumail Nanjiani will star, Ruben Fleischer will direct. Finally, Lisa Jones is set adapt Danielle McGuire’s non-fiction book At the Dark End of the Street for Invisible Pictures. Julie Dash to direct.

Other script sales:

– Matt Holloway and Art Marcum have been tapped to write the Men in Black spinoff for Sony.

– Eric Heisserer is set to script the Your Name remake for Bad Robot based on Makoto Shinkai’s 2016 Japanese animated film.

– Scott Bloom’s Roosevelt, a Theodore Roosevelt biopic, has found a home at Paramount. Martin Scorsese to direct, Leonard DiCaprio to star as Teddy himself.

– Sean Anders and John Morris to write Instant Family for Paramount. Anders will direct, Mark Wahlberg will star.

– JJ Abrams and Chris Terrio will write Star Wars: Episode IX. Abrams will also direct.

– Sean Carter to write and direct Suffer the Little Children, based on the Stephen King short story of the same name, for Voltage Pictures.

– Patty Jenkins, Geoff Johns, and Dave Callaham to script Wonder Woman 2 for DC and Warner Bros. Jenkins is also returning to direct.

Hidden Figures – Screenplay

By | Essential Reading - Screenplays and Pilots

At times, it feels as though Hollywood has exploited every moment in history for the sake of a movie. It’s becoming rarer and rarer to find a historical figure who hasn’t had their story portrayed in a film in some way, so nowadays, when a film zeroes in on an interesting event that few know about, it’s typically worth mentioning. However, director Theodore Melfi’s Hidden Figures goes a step further. The movie uses an event many people know about, John Glenn’s orbit around the Earth, as its backdrop but tells it from a perspective few were aware of.

Scripted by Allison Schroeder and Melfi and based on Margot Lee Shetterly’s book of the same name, Hidden Figures follows Katharine Johnson, an African American woman who calculated the trajectories that made Glenn’s mission possible, and her African American coworkers Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson during a time Virginia and NASA were still heavily segregated. Over the course of the movie, they rise in their respective fields and help make history at NASA.

Although it’s easy to see where the story is heading even with limited knowledge of the real Katharine Johnson, the moments Melfi and Schroeder chose to portray perfectly articulate the film’s themes and message. For example, one of Hidden Figures’ running threads follows Katharine as she attempts to use the restroom. Because the Langley Research Center’s bathrooms are still segregated, Katharine has to run to the basement of the only building on campus that houses a “colored” women’s room, located a half mile away, sometimes in the pouring rain, and always in high heels. But this provides a small example of the sort of race and gender discrimination these women faced throughout the movie. At every turn, they are either underestimated, ignored, or treated with hostility outright. However, most of the conflict and antagonism isn’t that explicit; rather, it’s the small reactions and subtle lines of dialogue that underscore the racism and sexism of the era. But because the odds are so heavily stacked against them, it’s hard not to hope they rocket through NASA’s glass ceiling, so to speak.

And in their own ways, Katharine, Mary, and Dorothy did. Hidden Figures may not have the intense stakes of a James Bond flick (and having the benefit of knowing the history of the Space Race and John Glenn’s mission in particular makes some plot points a foregone conclusion), but because the characters were so committed to their goals, their stories become compelling and inspirational. And the fact that the film’s themes and the characters’ struggles are still relevant today helps Hidden Figures stand out. In short, this is the sort of movie that the phrase “crowd-pleasing” was invented to describe.

Read the Hidden Figures Script

August 2017 Script Sales

By | Script Sales

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.

Legion – Pilot

By | Essential Reading - Screenplays and Pilots

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?

Read the Legion Pilot

Mandalay Pictures Developing Script Pipeline Contest-Winning TV Pilot

By | Success Stories

The Devil in Evelyn, winner of the 2016 First Look Project (Teleplay), was picked up for development by Mandalay Pictures in September 2017. Script Pipeline set up the writers, brothers Ben and Tyler Soper, with meetings after extensive circulation to Pipeline’s industry network.

“Script Pipeline’s First Look Project was an awesome experience,” Ben and Tyler said. “From our first phone call, they became our personal champions and proceeded to surprise us again and again with the extent of their support.  Thanks to them, we had meetings with a manager and production companies and are now developing our pilot with Mandalay Entertainment.  Entering this contest moved our careers forward in an unprecedented way and was the smartest thing we did all year!”

A favorite of Script Pipeline judges, the horror/comedy expertly weaves genres and manages to overcome the hurdle of grounding relatable themes in an entirely unreal context.

“Probably one of the most engaging pilots I’ve ever read,” said Senior Executive Matt Joseph Misetich. “Such a well-crafted story, start to finish–with the added challenge of taking a very tricky concept and figuring out a way to make it broad without losing the edge. The Sopers have a serious future in television if they keep churning out scripts like this.”

This is the first series the Sopers have had in development. They also write horror and sci-fi for both film and TV. Previous work has placed in Slamdance, Screamfest, and ISA’s Table Read My Screenplay contest.

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Kubo and the Two Strings – Screenplay

By | Essential Reading - Screenplays and Pilots

Pixar may be getting all the gifs and Buzzfeed articles (deservingly so), but in the background, Laika has been quietly producing some of the greatest animated films ever made. Known for mastering the painstaking process of stop-motion animation, Laika got their start with Henry Selick’s excellent adaptation of Coraline, and they haven’t slowed down since. Although they only have four films to their name, their relatively small oeuvre could easily rank among Pixar’s best.

Laika continued their streak last year with the criminally under-watched Kubo and the Two Strings. Written by Marc Haimes and Chris Butler and directed by Travis Knight, Kubo follows a young boy named Kubo who plays a magical shamisen. He sets off on a journey with a talking monkey and a samurai who was turned in a beetle to avenge his mother’s death.

So the story may follow the archetypical “hero’s journey” as described by Joseph Campbell, with the call to adventure and the various challenges along the way that pit good against evil, but what makes the script so great (and what earns the movie its 97% on Rotten Tomatoes) are its themes. As has become expected in modern children’s movies, Kubo doesn’t shy away from a mature depiction of its themes: family, death, empathy, and memory. Memory is the movie’s focus in particular—Kubo surprisingly and poignantly depicts early onset Alzheimer’s in a manner that rivals most “adult” films.

Anchored by a strong script and featuring one of the most realized fantasy worlds in recent memory, Kubo and the Two Strings is an excellent watch for anyone who appreciates great storytelling or animation in general.

Read the Kubo and the Two Strings Script

July 2017 Script Sales

By | Script Sales

Screenwriters made a strong showing in July, with many projects finding homes over the course of the month. Voltage Pictures snagged Brian Edward Hill’s untitled horror/thriller spec. The script has been described as a supernatural take on Se7en but with a female lead. Miramax picked up Jason Markarian and John Mirabella’s spec The Armstrongs. The action/comedy follows a divorced couple in witness protection who have to team up when their son is kidnapped. Eli Roth is set to produce Casey La Scala’s 1974, a thriller spec inspired by true events about a man convicted of murdering his parents and siblings. La Scala is set to direct as well. New Line Cinema purchased Super-Intelligence, an action/comedy spec written by Steve Mallory. Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone are also set to produce. Finally, Lionsgate acquired Shay Hatten’s action spec Ballerina, which follows a female assassin out for revenge. The script might become a spinoff to the John Wick movies.

Other script sales:

– Universal Pictures and Mandeville Films acquired Kristina Lauren Anderson’s pitch for Swan Lake. Felicity Jones is attached to star.

– Chris Columbus and his production company 1492 Pictures to produce Gregory Allen Howard’s untitled biopic about the life of Fannie Lou Hamer.

– Barry Jenkins to write/direct an adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel If Beale Street Could Talk for Annapurna Pictures.

– David Leslie Johnson to script the Invasion of the Body Snatchers adaptation/remake for Warner Bros.

– Vanessa Taylor has been tapped to write the live-action adaptation of Aladdin for Disney.

– Todd McFarlane will write/direct an adaptation of his comic book series Spawn for Blumhouse Productions.

10th Great TV Show Idea Contest Results

By | Great TV Show Idea Contest Finalists

Grand Prize Winner

Fucking Robots by Emily McGregor & Sam Weller

Emily McGregor is a Tucson, AZ native who moved to California to attend the Chapman University film program and to escape the constant barrage of cheesy Kokopelli art.

Emily recently directed MiTu’s original pilot “Beauty School” which screened at CES 2017. She’s worked with Pepsi, Univision, and NickMom on multiple campaigns as writer and director. As VP of Production for Comediva, a production company laser-focused on female comedy, she wrote and directed hundreds of sketches, web series, and branded videos, many of which you’ve seen on HuffPost, NY Times, CNN, Good Morning America, Mashable, and Gizmodo. Emily has also sold a half-hour comedy series to Amazon Studios.

Sam Weller is a writer and comedian originally from St. Louis, MO who performs at The Pack Theater in Los Angeles, and you can catch him online making appearances on Project Alpha livestreams with Dick & Johnson. It’s easy to talk to him, just casually mention professional wrestling and watch him go!

Most recently, Sam was the Director of Audience Development for a major multi-channel YouTube network & digital services company, Bent Pixels. He has 7 years of experience in new media and content strategy, and has worked with brands like Participant Media, Super Deluxe, Mattel, Live Nation, and Kevin Hart’s Hartbeat Productions. He’s also produced hundreds of podcasts and hosted extensively for CRAVE Online, Whiskey Media, and Whalerock Industries.

Emily and her husband Sam are an effective writing tag team currently working on new projects. Together, they wrote and produced “PARSER” in conjunction with Skybound Entertainment and YouTube Space L.A. The short was an official selection of the 2016 Arizona Underground Film Festival.

Runner Up

Jaggers by Greg Nye

12th Great Movie Idea Contest Results

By | Great Movie Idea Contest Finalists

Grand Prize Winner

The Maidservant Cap by Jeff Opdyke

Jeff Opdyke is a Louisiana-born writer who has traveled the world for his jobs (62 countries, six continents). He spent 17 years at The Wall Street Journal and seven with a Florida-based newsletter traveling globally to write about geo-politics, economics and investing. He has also written eight books under his own name and two as a ghostwriter for others.

He graduated from Louisiana State University in 1989 with a B.A. in journalism. He recently chucked everything in his life to relocate to California to attend UCLA, with an eye toward pursuing a lifelong dream of writing for television and movies. He’s currently at work on a comedy pilot. Wherever he lives, you should probably flee, since he moved to Los Angeles just in time for the Rodney King Riots, which he covered for the Orange County Register; he was in New York City as 9/11 unfolded, which he covered for The Journal; and he relocated to South Louisiana, only to get caught up driving into the maw of Hurricane Katrina, for which he was part of The Journal team nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. With that in mind, Jeff currently lives in Long Beach, California. You’ve been warned.

Runner-Up

Wasps by Albert Cook

June 2017 Script Sales

By | Script Sales

June was a lighter month for script sales. 20th Century Fox picked up Courage, a sci-fi spec written by Karl Gajdusek. The movie is described as in the same vein as Inception and Edge of Tomorrow. Amazon Studios meanwhile has picked up Flint Wainess’s 2016 Black List script Linda and Monica about the relationship between Linda Tripp and Monica Lewinski. Zodiac Features is teaming with Bankside Films and Head Gear Films to produce Devon Graye’s horror/thriller I See You. Helen Hunt is set to star.

Other script sales:

– Universal Studios picked up Sarah Rothschild’s workplace comedy pitch 24/7. Eva Longoria and Kerry Washington are set to star in and produce the film.

– Material Pictures is moving forward with Patrick Ness’s Home, based on George Saunders’s New Yorker short story.

– Lauren Graham to write and produce an adaptation of Jennifer E. Smith’s YA novel Windfall.

Margie Claus found a home at New Line Cinema. Ben Falcone and Damon Jones wrote the script. Falcone to direct, and Melissa McCarthy to star.

– William Fichtner to direct Cold Brook, an adventure drama he co-wrote with Cain DeVore.

– Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant have been tapped to writer the Cannonball Run remake for Warner Bros.

– Mike Van Waes to write the Conjuring 2 spinoff The Crooked Man.