EXCLUSIVE: Film executive Franklin Leonard has maintained The Black List for the past six years to champion hundreds of talented screenwriters and unproduced scripts. Well over 125 screenplays have been made into movies, and they’re responsible for 20 Oscars and roughly $10 billion in worldwide grosses. Today Leonard expands The Black List by launching a website that tracks Hollywood’s most popular scripts in real time. Blcklst.com bases its info on polling hundreds of high level studio and production company executives who are directly involved in moviemaking. The subscriber-only web site ($20 a month) will expand the pool of movie professionals to include agents and directors who will identify the scripts they like best. Blcklst.com algorithms will sort them by a number of criteria: most popular, and most popular dramas or comedies of the past week, month or whatever. For example, on Tuesday night, I broke news of the sale to Warner Bros of The Imitation Game about math genius Alan Turing. It has been the most popular available new script among several hundred beta-test users of Blcklst.com over the past couple of months.
One thing, though, Leonard’s website will not be open to the general public, however. Verified membership will be expanded to include agents, managers, directors, actors, and writers who will rate scripts according to what they like best. Additionally, the verified subscription format is designed to prevent data manipulation. Interestingly, there will be no “worst of” categories. (Gee where’s the fun if there’s no trashing or bashing?) The parameters are strictly based on what members like best and why. Leonard hopes the site will expand on what The Black List has already accomplished and help make the movie market more effective by pinpointing great screenplays with creative and profit potential as well as attract major talent.
In addition, The Black List has brought in a pair of bloggers under the blog.blcklst.com umbrella, Scott Myers at gointothestory (now gointothestory.blcklst.com) and Xander Bennett at Screenwriting Tips… You Hack (now screenwritingtips.blcklst.com). Bennett’s book based on his blog of the same name went on sale today from Focal Press.
For the uninitiated, The Black List is Leonard’s hot unproduced screenplay pecking order which he began in 2004 and compiled every year from the suggestions of hundreds of film executives, who each contributes the names of up to ten of their favorite scripts that were written in, or are somehow uniquely associated with, that calendar year and will not be released in theaters that calendar year, either. The Black List catapults dozens of scripts into production and screenwriters out of oblivion. Diablo Cody’s Juno, Nancy Oliver’s Lars And The Real Girl, Scott Neustader’s and Michael Weber’s 500 Days Of Summer, are just some of the screenplays which appeared on The Black List and then were made. I’ve noticed that it’s also a “big dick” measuring contest for the Hollywood agencies and their motion picture lit departments. Problem is, some screenwriters think this list isn’t on the up-and-up and accuse junior studio execs and assistants along with self-interested agents and managers of getting together to push their own clients on projects even if already abandoned.