Franklin Leonard and Dino Simone have released this year’s Black List, a ranking of the most-liked (not necessarily best) unproduced screenplays compiled from the votes of over 250 film executives. More than 300 Black List scripts have been greenlit, including Oscar winners like The Revenant, Spotlight, Slumdog Millionaire, Juno, The King’s Speech, and Argo. Some are currently in development, like Mindy Kaling‘s script about a talk show host played by Emma Thompson.
On 2016’s list, the most-liked script by far (with 48 votes) was a biopic about Madonna, hence the banner picture. But we’re going to focus on sci-fi and supernatural scripts again this year, which is partly my own bias and partly because those are often greenlit, recent examples being Passengers, Looper, Chronicle, and Transcendence.
One writer, Mike Makowsky, made the list twice this year, which is a rare achievement.
Several patterns emerged, including the old pattern of two scripts about the same subject making the list. Prior years had competing scripts about the making of The Godfather, the making of Jaws, and Mr. Rogers biopics. This year’s list includes two different biopics about Stephen King. It was a biopic-heavy year, all around. This year’s list included biopics about Donald Trump, Boudica, inventor Marvin Glass, Revolutionary War soldier Deborah Sampson, Dutch assassin Johanna “Hannie” Schaft, Eric Clapton/George Harrison/Pattie Boyd, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi (sculptor of the Statue of Liberty), Monica Lewinsky/Linda Tripp, Katharine Graham/Ben Bradlee, fashion designer Alexander McQueen, Rosemary Kennedy, Carl Sagan/Ann Druyan, Thomas Edison/George Westinghouse, experimental aircraft test pilot David Steeves, sailor Tami Ashcraft, and the already-in-development Tonya Harding biopic starring Margot Robbie.
Another more upsetting pattern was the dozen or so scripts about corruption which made the list. It is, after all, an election year. Black List founder Franklin Leonard told The Wrap, “There are many true stories about systematic corruption. From the DEA to a church accountant to a local school, and that’s pretty prevalent in our times.”
At least the sci-fi entries were more numerous and interesting than last year’s disappointing fare. Here are the fourteen sci-fi and supernatural Black List 2016 screenplays:
O2 (22 votes)
Waking up inside a cryogenic chamber with no memory of how she got there, Charlie must somehow escape the chamber before her air runs out.
FREE GUY (15 votes)
A bank teller stuck in his routine discovers he’s a background character in a realistic, open world action-adventure video game and he is the only one capable of saving the city.
I THINK WE’RE ALONE NOW (14 votes)
The apocalypse proves a blessing in disguise for one lucky recluse — until a second survivor arrives with the threat of companionship.
MAN ALIVE (14 votes)
After an alien invasion takes over the minds of humankind, one survivor known as “Man” must make peace with the alien force to fight a greater evil.
MOTHER (14 votes)
Michael Lloyd Green
A teenage girl is raised underground by a robot “Mother” — designed to repopulate the earth’s surface following an extinction-level event. But their unique bond is threatened when an inexplicable stranger arrives with alarming news.
TURNED ON (9 votes)
When a socially awkward engineer creates an android to fill in for her, things go awry when it becomes self actualized.
BOYFRIEND MATERIAL (8 votes)
In the near future, a heartbroken girl who hates technology participates in an experiment that allows you to program a robot into your dream man.
CONTINGENCY PROTOCOL (8 votes)
When futuristic technology renders the Federal Witness Protection Program obsolete, the U.S. Government begins using time travel to hide high-profile witnesses in the past. When a security breach occurs, a U.S. Marshal and her witness struggle to find their way back to the present day while evading assassins.
A DECONSTRUCTION OF REALITY (8 votes)
Tasked with finding a game changing take for the sixth Jason Bourne movie, Tom Milton goes deep down the rabbit hole of cracking the story. With the guidance (and abuse) of a professor from his past and Bourne himself, Tom begins workshopping scenes that begin to bleed into real life in unexpected ways.
ORB (8 votes)
Steve Desmond, Michael Sherman
Inspired by actual events from a phenomenon that occurred in 1974, a young married couple discover a mysterious metallic orb in the woods near their house following a meteor shower. While the unusual object dazzles the couple by exhibiting some awe-inspiring properties, its true purposes are revealed to be far more sinister than they could ever imagine.
THE FALL (7 votes)
Finding themselves in the middle of an alien invasion, a newly divorced couple must survive a dangerous real-time journey on foot from downtown Atlanta to the suburbs, where their young children are home alone.
HUMMINGBIRD (7 votes)
John Tyler Mclain
A black-ops assassin’s latest mark forces her to question the truth of her identity and ultimately confront the unsettling fact that she’s more than a hired gun, she’s an entirely new breed of weapon.
CAPTAIN INFINITY (6 votes)
When his comic book obsessed five-year-old brother is diagnosed with cancer, Oscar Ruiz attempts to shield him from the truth by convincing him that his “treatment” is all part of a top secret program to become a superhero.
SPACE ODDITY (6 votes)
A young man obsessed with taking a one-way trip to Mars begins to question his motives when he starts to fall in love with the insurance agent underwriting his trip.
The full list of unproduced screenplays is available at The Black List.