In 2005, Franklin Leonard was working as a development exec at Appian Way, Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company. He’d grown tired of reading one awful script after another, so he emailed a few other execs to ask them which ten screenplays were their favorite reads that year. He compiled a list based on their votes and emailed it to those same colleagues. In a short while, his email had gone viral and was forwarded to him by 25 different people who didn’t know he had composed it. This “Black List” — named in part as a jab at the McCarthyist blacklist which cost screenwriters accused of Communism their livelihoods — has been a yearly tradition since.
Among the unproduced screenplays recommended by the first Black List were Diablo Cody’s Juno and Nancy Oliver’s Lars and the Real Girl, both of which were later nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. This year’s Black List includes votes from 307 Hollywood insiders, who seem to really like vampires, aliens, and zombies (or, more likely, screenwriters who want to make a living have jumped on the zombie/vampire/aliens bandwagon).
After the jump we’ve listed the sci-fi and supernatural entries to the 2011 Black List, arranged from most votes to fewest, as we did with the 2009 list. The full list for this year is available at 24Frames and is predictably loaded up with murder plots and family reconciliation fare. There’s also a script by Quentin Tarantino on there. I hope somebody gives that plucky upstart his first big break.
“Chewie” by Evan Susser, Van Robichaux
A satirical, behind-the-scenes look at the making of “Stars Wars” through the eyes of Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca.
“In the Event of a Moon Disaster” by Mike Jones
An alternate telling of the historic Apollo 11 mission to the moon that examines what might have happened if the astronauts had crash-landed there.
“Maggie” by John Scott 3
As a “walking dead” virus spreads across the country, a farm family helps their eldest daughter come to terms with her infection as she slowly becomes a flesh-eating zombie.
“The End” by Aron Eli Coleite
Four people — a veteran broadcaster in London, a 16-year-old girl and her boyfriend in Ann Arbor, Mich., and a devoted family man in Shanghai — each try to make peace with their lives before an interstellar event ends the world in six hours.
“Ezekiel Moss” by Keith Bunin
A mysterious stranger who possibly has the power to channel the souls of the dead changes the lives of everyone in a small Nebraska town, especially a young widow and her 11-year-old son.
“Bethlehem” by Larry Brenner
A group of people struggling to survive a zombie apocalypse make an alliance with a vampire, trading themselves as food in exchange for protection since zombies don’t eat vampires.
“The Slackfi Project” by Howard Overman
A hapless and brokenhearted barista is visited by two soldiers from the future who tell him mankind is doomed, and he alone can save them.
“Grim Night” by Allen Bey, Brandon Bestenheider
A family has to defend themselves from the Grims, strange creatures who attack Earth and kill thousands one night every year.
“Flashback” by Will Honley
A former NASA pilot with amnesia — also the first person to travel the speed of light — realizes he has the ability to travel back in time and along the way rediscovers his love for his life.
“Gaslight” by Ian Fried
Secretly imprisoned in a London insane asylum, the infamous Jack the Ripper helps Scotland Yard investigators solve a series of grisly murders whose victims all share one thing in common: dual puncture wounds to the neck.
“On a Clear Day” by Ryan Engle
When a powerful and mysterious force invades an American city, a young father must traverse the battle-worn town in an effort to save his wounded wife and rescue their stranded children. In the process, our hero becomes the target of an enemy who will stop at nothing to kill him.
“Subject Zero” by Dave Cohen
A Frankenstein-like tale of a scientist who develops a powerful new drug that brings his son back to life after he dies in a car accident. Unfortunately, the desperate experiment of a loving father leads to the creation of a flesh-eating zombie epidemic with horrific consequences.
“Before I Fall” by Maria Maggenti
When a popular teen girl is killed in a car crash, she relives the crucial day seven times and makes changes in an attempt to affect the outcome; in the process, she herself changes as she tries to make up for previous heartless, self-absorbed behavior and gains a better understanding of herself and others. She makes the connections necessary to save a bullied, depressed girl’s life and comes to accept her own fate.
“Hyperdrive” by Alex Ankeles, Morgan Jurgenson
When a tough cop recruits a geeky sci-fi author to help him track down a mysterious murder witness, they find themselves in the middle of a space opera playing out here on Earth.
“Self/Less” by Alex Pastor, David Pastor
An extremely wealthy, elderly man dying from cancer undergoes a radical medical procedure that transfers his consciousness to the body of a healthy young man, but everything may not be as good as it seems when he starts to uncover the mystery of the body’s origins and the secret organization that will kill to keep its secrets.