Black List (survey)

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The Black List logo.png
Created 2004
Author(s) Franklin Leonard
Purpose Ranking of top unproduced screenplays

The Black List is an annual survey of the "most liked" motion picture screenplays not yet produced. It has been published every year since 2004 on the second Friday of December by Franklin Leonard, a development executive who formerly worked at Universal Pictures[1] and Will Smith's Overbrook Entertainment.[2][3][4] The website states that these are not necessarily "the best" screenplays, but rather "the most liked", since it is based on a survey of studio and production company executives.[5]

The Black List has included a substantial number of screenplays that were later put into production, including successful and award-winning examples such as American Hustle, Lars and the Real Girl, Juno,[6] The King's Speech, Slumdog Millionaire,[7] Argo,[8] and 50/50.[5] In addition, writers whose scripts are listed often find that they are more readily hired for other jobs, even if their listed screenplays still have not been produced, such as Jim Rash and Nat Faxon, two of the writers of the Oscar-winning screenplay of The Descendants, who had an earlier screenplay make the list.[3] On the other hand, Slate columnist David Haglund has written that the list's reputation as a champion for "beloved but challenging" works has been overstated, since "these are screenplays that are already making the Hollywood rounds. And while, as a rule, they have not yet been produced, many of them are already in production."[9]

Besides the aforementioned films, other screenplays that were put into production after appearing on the Black List include Transcendence,[10] Bad Words,[11] The Imitation Game[12] and John Wick.[13]


The first Black List was compiled in 2001 by Franklin Leonard, at the time working as a development executive for Leonardo DiCaprio's production company, Appian Way. He emailed about 90 fellow development executives and asked them to name the 10 best unproduced screenplays they read that year. To thank them for participating, he compiled the list and sent it the respondents. The name The Black List was a nod to his heritage as an African American man, and also as a subtle reference to the writers who were barred during the McCarthy era as part of the Hollywood blacklist.[14]


  1. ^ Sperling, Nicole (December 10, 2008). "The Black List: How Hollywood's Buzziest Scripts Get Their Juice". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 25, 2013. 
  2. ^ Sperling, Nicole (September 19, 2012). "Black List founder Franklin Leonard out at Overbrook Entertainment". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 25, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Geoff Edgars, "Hollywood’s talent pool", Boston Globe, February 23, 2012.
  4. ^ The Wall Street Journal 12/13/2012
  5. ^ a b Nicole Sperling, "A 'Black List' that's a career boost", Los Angeles Times, December 13, 2011.
  6. ^ Nicole Sperling, "The Black List: How Hollywood's Buzziest Scripts Get Their Juice", Entertainment Weekly, December 10, 2008.
  7. ^ Ben Child, "Hollywood's 'Black List' of best unproduced scripts of 2011 revealed", The Guardian, December 13, 2011.
  8. ^ Finke, Nikki. "The Black List 2010: Screenplay Roster". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 6 November 2013. 
  9. ^ David Haglund, "The Mostly Dull-Sounding Screenplays on This Year’s 'Black List'", Slate, December 13, 2011.
  10. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (December 17, 2012). "Black List 2012 Features Biopics On Hillary Clinton & Dr. Seuss, 'Transcendence' & More". indieWire. Retrieved May 9, 2013. 
  11. ^ Finke, Nikki (December 12, 2011). "The Black List 2011: Screenplay Roster". Retrieved November 4, 2013. 
  12. ^ Child, Ben (December 13, 2011). "Hollywood's 'Black List' of best unproduced scripts of 2011 revealed". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-08-19. 
  13. ^ "Tyler Marceca Makes The Black List & Ashleigh Powell Makes Both The Black List & The Hit List". ScriptMag. 19 December 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2012. 
  14. ^ "Franklin Leonard's Black List can help green-light screenplays". 2014-12-15. Retrieved 2014-12-15. 

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