The Black List (survey)

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The Black List is an annual survey of the "most-liked" motion picture screenplays not yet produced. It has been published every year since 2005 on the second Friday of December by Franklin Leonard, a development executive who subsequently 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
Black List logo.png
Created2004; 17 years ago (2004)
Author(s)Franklin Leonard
PurposeRanking of top unproduced screenplays

Of the approximately 1,000 screenplays The Black List has included since 2005, nearly a third have been later produced as theatrical films, including successful and award-winning examples such as Argo,[6] American Hustle, Juno,[7] The King's Speech, Slumdog Millionaire,[8] Spotlight, The Revenant, The Descendants, and Hell or High Water. The produced films have together grossed over $25 billion, and have been nominated for 241 Academy Awards and 205 Golden Globe Awards, winning 48 and 40, respectively.[9] As of the 92nd Academy Awards, three of the last 10 best picture Oscars went to scripts featured on a previous Black List, as well as nine of the last 20 screenwriting Oscars (Original and Adapted Screenplays). 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] 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."[10]

On January 27, 2019, it was announced at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in Park City that the LGBTQ media advocacy group GLAAD has partnered with The Black List to create The GLAAD List, a new curated list of the most promising unmade LGBTQ-inclusive scripts in Hollywood. [11]


The first Black List was compiled in 2005 by Franklin Leonard, at the time working as a development executive for Leonardo DiCaprio's production company, Appian Way Productions. He emailed about 75 fellow development executives and asked them to name the ten best unproduced screenplays they read that year.[12] To thank them for participating, he compiled the list and sent it to 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.[13]

The screenplays to top The Black List, from 2005 to 2020 respectively, are: Things We Lost in the Fire; The Brigands of Rattleborge; Recount; The Beaver; The Muppet Man; College Republicans; The Imitation Game; Draft Day; Holland, Michigan; Catherine the Great; Bubbles; Blond Ambition; Ruin; Frat Boy Genius; Move On; and Headhunter.


The Black List tallies the number of "likes" various screenplays have been given by development executives. Screenplays are ranked based on how many likes each of them get. The most likes received by a single screenplay is The Imitation Game, with 133 upon topping the 2011 list; it went on to win the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Films on the Black ListEdit

More than 400 screenplays have been put into production after appearing on The Black List. These include:[14][15]

2005 Black ListEdit

(120/286 screenplays have been put in production)

2006 Black ListEdit

(40/87 screenplays have been put into production)

2007 Black ListEdit

2008 Black ListEdit

(39/105 screenplays have been put into production)

2009 Black ListEdit

(42/97 screenplays have been put into production)

2010 Black ListEdit

(44/76 screenplays have been put into production)

2011 Black ListEdit

2012 Black ListEdit

2013 Black ListEdit

2014 Black ListEdit

2015 Black ListEdit

2016 Black ListEdit

2017 Black ListEdit

2018 Black ListEdit

2019 Black ListEdit

2020 Black ListEdit

(2/80 screenplays have been put into production)[17]


  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". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  3. ^ a b Geoff Edgars, "Hollywood’s talent pool" Archived 2012-05-03 at the Wayback Machine, Boston Globe, February 23, 2012.
  4. ^ Dodes, Rachel. "For Budding Screenwriters, a Way Past the Studio Gates". WSJ. Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  5. ^ Nicole Sperling, "A 'Black List' that's a career boost", Los Angeles Times, December 13, 2011.
  6. ^ Finke, Nikki. "The Black List 2010: Screenplay Roster". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  7. ^ Nicole Sperling, "The Black List: How Hollywood's Buzziest Scripts Get Their Juice", Entertainment Weekly, December 10, 2008.
  8. ^ Ben Child, "Hollywood's 'Black List' of best unproduced scripts of 2011 revealed", The Guardian, December 13, 2011.
  9. ^ "Black List Films". The Black List. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
  10. ^ David Haglund, "The Mostly Dull-Sounding Screenplays on This Year’s 'Black List'", Slate, December 13, 2011.
  11. ^ "Sundance: GLAAD and The Black List Join Forces to Promote LGBTQ Screenplays". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2019-01-28.
  12. ^ Vox (2017-09-14), How an underground script list changed movies, retrieved 2017-09-14
  13. ^ "Franklin Leonard's Black List can help green-light screenplays". Los Angeles Times. 2014-12-15. Retrieved 2014-12-15.
  14. ^ "The Black List" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-01-31. Retrieved 2016-01-31.
  15. ^ "Michael Jackson Chimp Script 'Bubbles' Tops Black List". Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  16. ^ "Watch Carnival Row - Season 1 | Prime Video". Retrieved 2019-11-19.
  17. ^ Lindahl, Chris (December 14, 2020). "The 2020 Black List Presents the Year's Best Unproduced Scripts". IndieWire. Retrieved February 27, 2021.

External linksEdit