If you pay any attention to the world of screenwriting, you almost certainly know about the "Black List." No, not the communism/Joseph McCarthy one. The "awesome unproduced screenplays" one. Since 2005, each year the Black List has surveyed studio executives and published a list of the best-liked scripts that haven't yet made it into production. While popularity doesn't always equal quality, the Black List has one hell of a track record, having listed scripts that have gone on to become movies such as 50/50, Slumdog Millionaire, The Social Network, and The King's Speech. It's been an unofficial "hit maker" in Hollywood for years, and now the Black List is taking the next step and launching a website.
Don't rush off to sign up for membership just yet, however. Like the List itself, the new website will be a pretty exclusive affair. Specifically, don't bother applying unless you're an "active Hollywood moviemaker." It will allow for a broader membership than the 500 voters who compile the Black List each year, but this definitely ain't gonna be an IMDb style free-for-all.
The Black List website will, much like the aforementioned IMDb, allow users to rate the scripts in its database, creating a real-time tracking system of which scripts are exciting the most people and generating the most buzz amongst industry folks. It will also use an algorithm to recommend scripts to users based on their previously "liked" selections. Hopefully this system will make more sense than Netflix's "If you liked this, you might like this" suggestions.
So why should you care? (Assuming you're not a Hollywood filmmaker...if you are, I've got this awesome script you should read...) Quite simply, if the website works as it's supposed to, it will help draw attention to awesome scripts. The more attention that is drawn to awesome scripts, the greater chance they might get produced. The greater chance they might get produced, the less chance we have of Hollywood spending $100 million on yet another remake. That can only be a good thing.
Here's the full text of the press release:
THE BLACK LIST GOES REAL TIME
ANNUAL “BEST OF” SCREENPLAY LIST LAUNCHES ONLINE “REAL TIME BLACK LIST” AND SCRIPT RECOMMENDATION SERVICE
LOS ANGELES (October 13, 2011) -- Hollywood’s annual list of most liked screenplays has gone real time. Today, Black List founder Franklin Leonard and co-founder/CTO Dino Sijamic announced the launch of an online members’ community that will make algorithmic screenplay recommendations based on individual users tastes and allow them to explore real-time updated lists of Hollywood’s most liked scripts at any given moment. The site will be located at http://www.blcklst.com.
“It’s very simple: users rate the scripts they’ve read. Based on those ratings, we can recommend them other scripts they’re likely to like, and those ratings aggregate to identify the most liked scripts in Hollywood,” said Leonard. “It’s a natural extension of the work we were already doing with the annual list, celebrating great writing and drawing Hollywood’s attention to it and those capable of it. Hopefully the benefits that the list has brought screenwriters at the end of each year can continue similarly year round.”
Eight former Black List scripts premiered at this year’s 2011 Toronto International Film Festival including 50/50, THE IDES OF MARCH, and THE DESCENDANTS which are tipped to add to the twenty Academy Awards that Black List scripts have won over the last five years.
Membership in this newest venture will be a closed community of active Hollywood moviemakers but far larger than the number of eligible voters for the annual Black List, which stands around 500. Those interested can request a membership at http://www.blcklst.com/waitlist.
"We’re very much hoping to continue the 'do no harm' philosophy embraced by the annual List. The only time a user’s attention will be drawn to a screenplay is if everyone likes it or if our algorithm thinks they’re personally likely to like it,” added Leonard.
THE BLACK LIST
Over the last six years, the Black List has become one of Hollywood’s primary arbiters of taste in material. Begun in December 2005 as a survey of several dozen executives’ favorite unproduced scripts, the 2010 edition surveyed over 300 executives, over 60% of Hollywood’s studio system’s executive corps.
The Black List -- run by founder Franklin Leonard and CTO Dino Sijamic -- now includes the annual list of most liked unproduced screenplays, the membership community and “real time Black List,” and the Black List blog, home of Scott Myers’s “Go Into the Story” and Xander Bennett’s “Screenwriting Tips… You Hack,” two of the premier and best trafficked screenwriting blogs online.
Of the just over 500 scripts that have been highlighted on the annual list in the last six years, over 125 have been produced as films grossing over $10 billion in worldwide box office. Black List scripts have won 20 Academy Awards -- including the last two Best Pictures (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and THE KING’S SPEECH) and four of the last eight screenwriting awards (JUNO, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, THE KING’S SPEECH, and THE SOCIAL NETWORK) -- from over 80 nominations. It is also solely responsible for tens of thousands of yearly introductions of Hollywood actors, directors, producers, and financiers to new material and writers they were heretofore unaware of.
Other notable Black List scripts include 21, 3:10 TO YUMA, 500 DAYS OF SUMMER, ADVENTURELAND, BABEL, BLACK SNAKE MOAN, CEDAR RAPIDS, CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR, DIVING BELL & THE BUTTERFLY, DUE DATE, EASY A, FANBOYS, FROST/NIXON, HANNA, IN BRUGES, INGLORIOUS BASTERDS, INVCITUS, JUNO, LARS AND THE REAL GIRL, NICK AND NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST, NO STRINGS ATTACHED, ORPHAN, RECOUNT, RENDITION, SALT, SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD, SOURE CODE, STATE OF PLAY, SUPERBAD, THE BLIND SIDE, THE BUCKET LIST, THE FIGHTER, THE HANGOVER, THE IDES OF MARCH, THE KITE RUNNER, THE QUEEN, THE TOWN, THE WRESTLER, THERE WILL BE BLOOD, UP IN THE AIR, WE ARE MARSHALL, and ZOMBIELAND.