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Crazy Rich Asians – Screenplay

By Essential Reading - Screenplays and Pilots

Romantic comedy can be one of the most difficult genres to write. Sure, the ubiquity of mediocre romcoms might imply otherwise, but truly great movies in the genre are rather rare. For a good romantic comedy, the audience needs to not only care about the characters but also care about the stakes and believe that those stakes have real weight and real consequences. Over the summer, Crazy Rich Asians burst into theaters and became an immediate sensation—in equal parts because it provided much-needed representation of a group Hollywood often underrepresented and because it’s a damn good story. Directed by Jon M. Chu and written by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim from Kevin Kwan’s novel, Crazy Rich Asians, the story follows Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) who travels to her boyfriend Nick Young’s (Henry Golding) hometown in Singapore to attend his best friend’s wedding and meet his family, who are crazy-rich and…

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November 2018 Script Sales

By Script Sales

Let’s start things off with a slew of projects picked up by J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot: an untitled time travel story written by Ben Shiffrin; The Steps, Blair Butler’s twist on the possession genre; an untitled female-driven horror allegory by An Emmy for Megan’s Megan Amram; Courtney Hoffman’s The Seven Sisters of Scott County, which is about moonshining; a sci-fi romance Only the Lonely written by Dylan Meyer and Peter Glanz; and the “Clerks for a new generation” Everything Must Go, written by Lisa McQuillan and Logic, who is also set to star. (Whew!) Other, non–J.J. Abrams script sales include: – Legendary Pictures and The Gotham Group picked up Juel Taylor and Tony Rettenmaier’s near-future ByAll, which follows the aftermath of a post-LAPD Los Angeles. – BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, Rideback, and New Line Cinemas are teaming up for the supernatural horror Dear David. Written by Mike Van Waes, the movie…

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Sorry to Bother You – Screenplay

By Essential Reading - Screenplays and Pilots

It’s difficult to summarize Sorry to Bother You. Written and directed by rapper Boots Riley (his debut film as both writer and director), the film is easily the most original of 2018, and it’s got things to say. The story follows Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield), who really needs a job. The only place that’s hiring (and will also hire anyone) is a local telemarketing firm. At first, everyone Cash calls almost immediately hangs up on him, which is not so great since Cash works on commission. Eventually, he takes the advice of his coworker Langston (Danny Glover) and begins to use a “white voice,” which sounds exactly like David Cross. (Cross’s voice was dubbed over to hilarious results.) Soon, he becomes the firm’s number one telemarketer, and his life begins improving. That is, until the fratty CEO Steve Lift (Armie Hammer) takes an interest in Cash. From there, things quickly…

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7th Annual 2018 First Look Project Results

By First Look Project Winners

SCREENPLAY Action/Adventure Waitress #2 by Nathan Patton – Winner Nathan Patton didn’t grow up in a rural Arkansas town, population 85–he grew up on the outskirts of that town. That seclusion led to a lot of time spent inside his imagination, writing and drawing his own comic books, or acting out unmade Indiana Jones sequels in the woods behind his house. He’s still waiting to grow up, but he did eventually get a job, doing some work in the comics field, and working as a freelance journalist and weekly political cartoonist before eventually deciding to get his MFA in Writing. He’s a Michener Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, where he lives with his wife (who loves him) and dog (who tolerates him). His feature script, Greenwood, came in fifth place in the 2018 LAUNCH Million Dollar Screenplay contest and was a semifinalist in the 2018 Austin Film Festival….

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Director Attached to Contest Winner’s Screenplay “S21”

By Uncategorized

Director Scott Speer (Midnight Sun) is set to helm Script Pipeline finalist and Recommend writer Greg Wayne’s dark romcom S21. Catapult and Needle’s Eye producing. Speer has also directed I Still See You and Step Up Revolution. This will be Greg’s first produced feature film. He previously won the Script Pipeline First Look Project with his comedy pilot Ad Game and has placed as a finalist and received a Recommend on numerous other screenplays and pilots, working closely with Script Pipeline development execs. From Greg: “Script Pipeline gives the best notes. Whenever I’m struggling with a project, their staff never fails to provide feedback that elevates the story. They take their commitment to Recommended writers, contest winners, and finalists incredibly seriously, and do an amazing job of getting those scripts out into the world.”

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October 2018 Script Sales

By Script Sales

Universal Pictures, along with Michael De Luca Productions, Immersive Pictures, and Crazyrose, has optioned Anthony McCarten’s untitled spec based on John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s relationship. Ono is set to produce, and Jean-Marc Vallée (Wild, Big Little Lies) will produce and direct. Warner Bros., Safehouse Pictures, and LBD Productions have picked up Brad Desch’s rom-com spec Wink. Inspired by producer Tory Tunnell’s own experiences, the story is a Cyrano de Bergerac–like tale of what happens when someone takes over their mother’s social media profiles. Jared Cowie’s spec You Are Leaving The American Sector has found a home with Parallel Films. The Cold War spy thriller follows a young CIA officer in West Berlin who uncovers a plot that could send the world into nuclear war. Finally, Voltage Pictures has acquired Tenfold by Allan Ungar. The action spec follows a man who avenges his estranged, soon-to-be-wed daughter’s death. Ungar will also…

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Annihilation – Screenplay

By Essential Reading - Screenplays and Pilots

There’s always that one movie you meant to watch in theaters but just never got around to seeing. I knew I had to see Annihilation after watching the trailer, with its beautiful visuals, unique synthesized score, and amazing cast. But for whatever reason, I didn’t make it in time, and honestly, missing it was a huge mistake. Written and directed by Alex Garland (whom we’ve talked about previously) and based on the novel by Jeff VanderMeer, the movie starts with a simple premise: There’s a mysterious and expanding sci-fi anomaly called The Shimmer in the southern United States, and every team the government has sent in has disappeared, except for one man, who mysteriously shows up a year after his trip inside. His wife Lena (Natalie Portman), a cellular biologist and military veteran, volunteers to go into The Shimmer with a team led by psychologist Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh). From…

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September 2018 Script Sales

By Script Sales

September was a lighter month for script sales, but here’s a bunch of notables: – Halle Berry will direct and star in Bruised, written by Michelle Rosenfarb, about a disgraced female MMA fighter. Thunder Road Pictures and Entertainment 360 are producing. – Playing House stars/creators Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham sold an untitled comedy pitch to Universal. Gina Rdoriguez is attached to star. That’s all we know about it, but St. Clair and Parham are amazing so of course we had to mention it. – Sony picked up Simon Rich’s (Man Seeking Woman) Sell Out. The story, based on Rich’s New Yorker novella, is a a Rip van Winkle-style comedy in which immigrant falls in a vat of pickles in 1918 and is perfectly preserved in the brine for a hundred years. Seth Rogen is set to produce and star. – Blackmaled Productions has picked up Real Talk, written…

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American Vandal – Pilot

By Essential Reading - Screenplays and Pilots

American Vandal has no right being as good as it is. Created and written by Tony Yacenda and Dan Perrault, the show ostensibly parodies true crime shows (most predominantly fellow Netflix series Making a Murderer), but like any good comedy, it aims to satirize contemporary life. For the first season, the show’s central mystery revolves around an act of graffiti in which a student draws phallic imagery on every faculty car at their high school, and it seeks to answer, to quote the show’s constant refrain, “Who drew the d*cks?” Is it crude? Most definitely. But despite how crude American Vandal is (and it is—even more so its second season), the show somehow transcends its sophomoric humor and becomes one of the most compelling mysteries on television. The pilot mostly presents the characters and the list of potential suspects and establishes the tone. Like Making a Murderer, the show’s “documentarians”…

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August 2018 Script Sales

By Script Sales

Hollywood is starting to feel the affects of Crazy Rich Asians’ amazing box-office performance, and several projects with Asian-American or Polynesian leads were picked up in the second half of August. (It’s long overdue, but hey, we’ll take it.) Seven Bucks Entertainment, Flynn Picture Company, ImageMovers are teaming to produce The King, with New Line Cinema distributing. Written by Randall Wallace, the spec is a biopic of King Kamehameha, who was the first to unite the Hawaiian Islands. Dwayne Johnson is set to star, Robert Zemeckis to direct, and both will produce. New Line also picked up Singles Day, a romantic comedy spec written by Lillian Yu. The plot is mostly under wraps, but it’s based on a Chinese holiday described as the anti–Valentine’s Day in which singles celebrate being unattached. And finally, Elyse Hollander’s untitled music spec found a home at Fox 2000. The story follows an Asian American…

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The Sinner – Pilot

By Essential Reading - Screenplays and Pilots

Within the first 15 minutes of The Sinner, you know who the killer is. There’s no doubt about it—you see it happen, and dozens of witnesses see it too. Although a mystery, The Sinner isn’t as interested in the whodunnit, but the whydunnit. And centering the series on that aspect helps make The Sinner a taut, suspenseful, unpredictable thriller. Written and developed by Derek R. Simonds and based on the novel by Petra Hammesfahr, the story opens with Cora (a spellbinding Jessica Biel in a powerhouse performance that’s currently up for an Emmy) going through a typical day. We get a subtle sense that she’s unhappy, troubled in some way, and our suspicions are confirmed almost immediately when she stabs a stranger on a crowded beach in broad daylight. From there, the question becomes why she did it, and detective Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) is the man pursuing it. Flashbacks…

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July 2018 Script Sales

By Script Sales

July was a slower month for script sales. David M. Crabtree’s script Plane has found a home at Mandalay Pictures. The thriller follows a traveling salesman who is trapped alone in a small airborne plane after the pilot dies. John Moore (Behind Enemy Lines, A Good Day to Die Hard) is set to direct. Twentieth Century Fox is moving forward with the comedy Stoned Alone, an adult version of Home Alone that follows a stoner who misses his flight and must deal with thieves inside his home. Kevin Burrows and Matt Mider are on the script, based off an idea from Fox’s Matt Reilly. Ryan Reynolds will produce, and Augustine Frizzell will direct. Screen Gems and Brownstone Productions have picked up Savion Einstein’s comedy Superfecundation, which is a rare situation that occurs when twins have two different fathers. Elizabeth Banks and Max Handelman will produce. Makeready, Hillman Grad Productions, and De La Revolución Films will produce Lena Waithe’s crime…

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A Quiet Place – Screenplay

By Essential Reading - Screenplays and Pilots

There’s no way around it: To make an effective horror or thriller movie, you need tension. Lots of it. (You also need characters the audience will care about, but that should be a given for any screenplay.) One of the classic horror set pieces is the killer stalking a potential victim, who then hides in the closet or in the bathroom or under the bed and struggles not to make a single sound. Dozens of movies probably just popped into your mind with that brief description. But what if that classic horror moment became the premise of an entire feature? A Quiet Place, written by Bryan Woods & Scott Beck and John Krasinski and directed by Krasinski, makes that premise a reality. In the near future, Earth has been attacked by extraterrestrials and most of the world’s population has been wiped out. The catch? These aliens have ultra-sensitive hearing, so…

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