We’re thrilled to announce that in early December, we will be releasing the 2016 Hit List, comprised of top spec scripts of the year, as voted on by industry professionals. As we get closer to the release, we’re looking back at the Hit Lists of year’s past to highlight some of the amazing writers and their groundbreaking scripts who went on to become some of the most admired and sought after screenwriters working today.
Yesterday, we took a look back at the 2011 Hit List, which included Oscar winner Graham Moore and the Duplass brothers. Today, we proudly present the latest updates from some of the writers who made the 2012 Hit List. And don’t forget to check back in December for the release of the 2016 Hit List!
HERE ARE A FEW STAND-OUT HONOREES FROM THE 2012 HIT LIST
Brad Ingelsby landed on the list with his spec ALL-NIGHTER, which became Run All Night, Warner Bros.’ action-thriller starring Liam Neeson produced by Roy Lee and Brooklyn Weaver. Ingelsby’s Out of the Furnace was produced by Relativity Media, Appian Way, and Scott Free, and starred Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, and Forest Whitaker. Ingelsby sold his pitch for Merry Men to Amblin, with Scott Waugh attached to direct. His specs The Burning Woman, A Better Place, and Claire have all sold to Scott Free, with Burning Woman currently in production with Fox and Claire being financed by Erika Olde. Ingelsby is also working on a draft of Narco Sub for Fox and Scott Free.
Before Christopher Cantwell and Christopher Rogers created their AMC series Halt and Catch Fire, they landed on The Hit List with their action-thriller OFF THE GRID. They’re currently working on a draft of the tightly under wraps sci-fi thriller Zanbato for Paramount and J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot, as well as the current draft of Chris Hemsworth-vehicle Shadow Runner for Columbia. Their spec The Knoll, about the JFK assassination, is being produced by Management 360.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy was no stranger to praise when his first original screenplay THE COUNSELOR landed on The Hit List. His previous novels Child of God, The Road, No Country for Old Men, and All The Pretty Horses have all been adapted into award-winning films. The Counselor was produced by Fox, starred Michael Fassbender, Cameron Diaz, and Brad Pitt, and was directed by Ridley Scott. McCarthy’s The Crossing is currently being adapted by Columbia and Sony and Cities of the Plain is being developed at Avenue Pictures with James Franco attached to star.
Craig Zahler’s chilling western BONE TOMAHAWK caught Hollywood’s attention in 2012, and was released last year starring Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, and Matthew Fox. His spec script The Big Stone Grid is in development with Pierre Morel directing, while his adaptation of Mean Business on North Ganson Street is in the works at Leonard Di Caprio’s Appian Way and Warner Bros. His spec The Brigands of Rattleborge has Park Chan-wook set to direct and he recently wrapped production on Brawl in Cell Block 99, which he both directed and wrote.
Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt saw their Hit List spec OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN made into a hit film starring Gerard Butler. From there they were brought in to pen The Expendables 3 for Sylvester Stallone and Millennium Films, which pulled in over $200 million worldwide, and their spec received a sequel this year, aptly titled London Has Fallen, with Butler returning in the lead role. Lately, they’ve been developing the action-thriller Twice with Luc Besson and his EuropaCorp, and they’re adapting The Drowning for Radar Pictures. The duo is currently working on a remake of the Japanese action-thriller Shield of Straw for All Nippon Entertainment and Depth of Field.
Eric Heisserer made the Hit List with his adaptation of Ted Chiang’s novella STORY OF YOUR LIFE, which turned into Arrival and had a record-breaking pre-sale at Cannes to Paramount after a massive bidding war and was recently released to rave reviews. Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner starred and Denis Villeneuve directed. Heisserer has since directed his own project, Hours, and wrote the screenplay for the hit horror film this year Lights Out. He’s working on the Universal reboot of Van Helsing and among his other projects in development are Exposure for Columbia and an adaptation of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None for Fox. His spec Understand is also set up at Fox.
James Vanderbilt’s Hit List spec WHITE HOUSE DOWN became a box office smash, starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, and directed by Roland Emmerich. That led him to jobs writing The Amazing Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and The Losers. Last year, he wrote and directed the political drama Truth starring Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford and this year he wrote the script for the long-awaited sequel Independence Day: Resurgence for Fox. Currently, his spec Independence, Mississippi is set up at Warner Bros. and he’s writing the remake of Red Riding at Columbia. He’s also executive producing the recently announced Stranger in a Strange Land adaptation series for Syfy.
Jason Micallef sold his Hit List spec GROUND CONTROL TO MAJOR TOM to Disney and Underground Entertainment, with Seth Gordon attached to direct. His dark reimagining of the Willy Wonka story Wonka made the Black List in 2014, and he sold his pitch Shadows to Fox, with Carlos Saldanha attached to direct. Micallef worked on the much-buzzed about feature adaptation of King of Kong for New Line, while his comedy script Undercover Cop is in the works at DreamWorks with Jason Segel attached as the lead. Currently, Micallef is working on the upcoming Play-Doh movie for Fox and Hasbro, with Peter Chernin producing and Paul Feig directing.
Jeremy Slater made The Hit List with his alternate history crime thriller MAN OF TOMORROW, currently in development with Thunder Road Pictures, while his pitch Denver Airport is set up at Amblin. His horror script that he co-wrote with Luke Dawson, The Lazarus Effect, was produced by Blumhouse and Lionsgate last year and he worked on the script for 2015’s Fantastic Four reboot, and he’s currently working on Death Note for Warner Bros., Vertigo Entertainment, and Lin Pictures. Among his other projects in development are Fables for Warner Bros. and Artemis for Fox.
Jonathan Stokes found himself on The Hit List with his action-thriller BORDER COUNTRY. Recently, he wrote a series of young adult books, The Thrifty Time Traveler’s Guide, which sold to New Line after a massive bidding war. He’s working on the King David period biopic David for Fox, Scott Free, and Chernin, and Blood Mountain for Derby Street Films, Lawrence Bender Productions, Movie Package Company, The Cutting Edge Group, and Silver Reel Partners, as well as Murders and Acquisitions for Warner Bros.
After landing on The Hit List, the powerful post-apocalyptic drama THE KEEPING ROOM by Julia Hart was produced by Wind Dancer Films, Gilbert Films, and Anonymous Content. Directed by Daniel Barber, the film starred Brit Marling and Hailee Steinfeld. She then wrote Miss Stevens and made her directorial debut with the film, which was set up at Gilbert Films and Beachside Films and released earlier this year. Currently, she’s adapting Beautiful Disaster for Warner Bros.
Justin Rhodes’ thriller THE JOIN sold to Legendary Entertainment after making The Hit List, and Rhodes continued to make waves after that. His script Grassroots was directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal and starred Jason Biggs and Lauren Ambrose. His original sci-fi spec Second Sun is set up at Warner Bros. and he’s currently working on a draft of the adaptation of the popular game Mass Effect for Electronic Arts and Legendary, as well as The Breach for Lionsgate.
Matt Lieberman’s Christmas comedy 12/24 jingled all the way to The Hit List in 2012, and led the writer to plenty of work ever since. He’s currently tackling the remakes of Scooby-Doo (titled S.C.O.O.B.) and The Jetsons for Warner Bros., while 12/24 has now been picked up by 1492 Pictures, and another original spec, Personal Security, set up at Fox with Hugh Jackman producing. He’s also writing the feature Free Guy at Fox with Greg Berlanti producing.
Patrick Aison’s remarkable period action thriller WUNDERKIND made a splash on The Hit List before being set up at Paramount with Bad Robot producing. He was a staff writer on the Fox mystery series Wayward Pines, and he’s currently writing a script centered on drug trafficking for Fox and Chernin Entertainment.
Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese’s sci-fi script EPSILON turned heads in 2012, and has since been set up at Columbia. The pair are currently working on the sci-fi adventure tale Little Green Men for Paramount and Di Bonaventura and Earth vs. Moon for Universal and Bluegrass Films. They scored big when they were tapped to write the adaptation of Rob Liefeld’s classic comic book series Deadpool for Fox starring Ryan Reynolds, which was one of this year’s biggest hits and they’re now working on the highly anticipated sequel. Coming up they have the sci-fi film Life starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, and Reynolds, awaiting release from Sony.
Rajv Joseph and Scott Rothman made their way on The Hit List with the sports drama DRAFT DAY, which was subsequently picked up, produced and directed by Ivan Reitman and his Montecito Picture Company. They served as staff writers for Showtime’s hit series Nurse Jackie, and are currently penning the adaptation of The Seventh Juror as well as an untitled father/daughter project at Warner Bros. with Bradley Cooper attached.
Taylor Sheridan‘s COMANCHERIA, later titled Hell or High Water, made a serious impact when it landed on The Hit List, subsequently picked up and produced by Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and Film 44, with Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges starring. It became one of the best-reviewed films of this year. His script Sicario — which starred Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro and was directed by Denis Villenevue — received plenty of buzz and topped several critics year end polls. Lionsgate has already commissioned a sequel from Sheridan, titled Soldado, with Del Toro and Brolin in talks to return.
Those are but a few of the incredible writers who made the 2012 Hit List, and only a sampling of some of the fantastic projects they’ve been involved with over the past few years. Next week, we’ll be highlighting writers and their scripts from the 2013 Hit List and beyond, all in anticipation of the release of the 2016 Hit List in December.
Missed the previous recaps? Check the links below to read up on some of the highlights from previous years!