The Black List is a yearly ranking of the most popular unproduced scripts in Hollywood, and it’s a place where some really great work can get noticed. Scripts previously featured on The Black List have gone on to win Academy Awards, so there’s no question of the level of quality on the list. The subject matter can be a little odd however. Nothing shows this combination of quality and strangeness than the script that tops this year’s list, a biography of Michael Jackson’s pet chimp, Bubbles.
The screenplay, by Isaac Adamson, simply titled Bubbles, is essentially a chimps-eye view of the life of Michael Jackson, including the scandals that the King of Pop dealt with in his life. The oddest part of the script is likely the fact that the movie is actually narrated by Bubbles himself. Using the chimp as the point of entry into the life of Michael Jackson is certainly an original idea. It would give a unique perspective, and possibly one of the most sympathetic narrators you could possibly have.
According to Rolling Stone, Michael Jackson adopted the famous chimp in 1983 and lived with him on the singer’s Neverland Ranch. He was often by the pop star’s side until 2003 when it was deemed that Bubbles was becoming too aggressive. He now lives in a monkey sanctuary in Florida.
The fact that the screenplay deals with the life of Michael Jackson at all is likely the reason it remains unproduced. More than 500 Hollywood executives vote on The Black List so being at the top of the list is a pretty major endorsement of the quality. However, getting the estate of Jackson to ok something that would deal with the scandals in his life it all has to be about as close to impossible as anything can be.
Two of this year’s Oscar front runners, Spotlight and The Revenant , were on The Black List before, so being unproduced today doesn’t prevent the idea from being picked up sometime down the road. Other films on this year’s list include ROCKET* a biopic about former professional baseball pitcher Roger Clemens, and Stronger a film about a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing. That film has apparently already been picked up, and there has been talk about Jake Gyllenhaal starring. The complete Black List is available from The Hollywood Reporter.
Does a movie about Michael Jackson’s pet sound like the most brilliant, or terrible, idea in film? It has that "just crazy enough to work" feel to it. Even though, it’s actually incredibly unlikely it will ever work.