We’re thrilled to announce that tomorrow, December 4th, we will be releasing the 2015 Hit List, comprised of top spec scripts of the year, as voted on by industry professionals. We can hardly wait to drop this year’s best of the best in specs and discover a new batch of talented writers and their incredible stories. So to hold us over, each day this week we’re taking a look back at some of the writers and scripts that made the Hit List in years past, showcasing just a few of our favorite success stories.
Yesterday, we revisited the 2012 Hit List, which included red hot screenwriter Brad Ingelsby and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy. Today, we proudly present the latest updates from some of the writers who made the 2013 Hit List. Tomorrow, we’ll check in one more time with the writers from last year before we drop the 2015 Hit List!
HERE ARE A FEW STAND-OUT HONOREES FROM THE 2013 HIT LIST
Aaron Berg stormed onto the list with his spec SECTION 6, about the formation of MI6, which sold to Universal in a mammoth seven-figure deal. It is now in development with Grey Matter, Big Talk, and Marc Platt producing. Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) is attached to direct with Jack O’Connell (Unbroken) slated to star. Berg has also been busy penning the latest G.I. Joe sequel for Paramount, with MGM, Di Bonaventura and Hasbro attached to produce. Dwayne Johnson is set to return, with DJ Caruso on board to direct.
Jordan Goldberg and Alex Paraskevas made the 2013 Hit List with THE ASTERISK after previously being featured for the suspense thriller Sprawl. The Asterisk was sold to Warner Bros. Pictures and their other spec, The Gun Eaters went to Paramount and Oasis Media Group. Paraskevas has multiple projects of his own in development, while Goldberg has gone on to become an associate producer or producer for nearly all of Christopher Nolan’s films since 2005, including The Dark Knight, Inception, and Interstellar.
Alexander Felix made the list two years ago with his poignant drama WHERE ANGELS DIE. He is currently adapting V.E. Schwab’s fantasy novel Vicious for Scott Free Productions and Story Mining & Supply Co.
Allison Schroeder swung on to our list of top specs with her action adventure tale, AGATHA, which is in development at Paramount with Disruption and Benderspink producing. Schroeder is also scripting Fox 2000’s adaptation of Hidden Figures, a book about a team of African American women integral to the success of NASA’s first space missions. Chernin Entertainment is on board to produce with Theodore Melfi (St. Vincent) attached to direct.
Ben Ripley scored big when he penned the hit sci-fi thriller Source Code for Vendome Pictures, but it was his spec EMPIRE that landed on the 2013 Hit List. The script is presently set up at The Mark Gordon Company with veteran editor Angus Wall attached to direct. He wrote Boychoir, an intimate drama, for Informant Media. The picture was released in 2014 with Dustin Hoffman in the lead. Ripley has been brought in to work on a number of high profile projects including Operation Zero for Paramount, and the remake of Flatliners for Columbia Pictures. He’s also attached to write the Source Code sequel.
Bill Kennedy landed on the list in 2013 for his crime thriller THE FIXER, about a money manager who gets into business with an LA drug dealer. The spec is in development with Fubar Films and Rumble Entertainment teaming to produce. Kennedy has been a staff writer on the hit Netflix show House Of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, as well as the NBC drama American Odyssey. He penned the Haley Joel Osment indie comedy Sex Ed and is working on adapting Matthew Mather’s novel Cyberstorm for Fox and Chernin Entertainment.
Chris Sparling was already a Hit List alum, having previously been highlighted for his spec Incident On 459, when he made the 2013 Hit List with SEA OF TREES. Trees was directed by Gus Van Sant and starred Matthew McConaughey. Sparling first gained attention when his claustrophobic thriller Buried swept the festival circuit and took top honors from the National Board of Review, and shortly thereafter he began landing gigs like his life depended on it. He then wrote the Marti Noxon-produced Rabies, Lionsgate’s Down a Dark Hall, and Warner Bros.’ Blood on Snow, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. He’s currently adapting the Stephen King short story Ayana into a TV movie.
Daniel Kunka is perhaps best known for the action thriller 12 Rounds, produced by Fox Digital Studio and starring WWE star John Cena. He was listed in 2013 for his action spec THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE, which is in development at Warner Bros., Madhouse and Atlas. Kunka has been churning out specs of late, with two set up in town. Yellowstone Falls, a sci-fi thriller, is set up at Cover Media and Misher Films with Gerard Johnstone slated to direct. Another sci-fi offering, Agent Ox, is in development at Columbia and Original Film. Kunka has also been tapped to pen Warner Bros. adaptation of the classic video game Space Invaders.
David Ayer’s entry onto the 2013 list was the World War 2 drama FURY, which was produced in 2014 and starred Brad Pitt, Shia LeBeouf, and Logan Lerman. Ayer direct the film, which was nominated for numerous awards and landed on the National Board of Review’s Top Ten list. Before that, Ayer wrote and directed the scintillating cop thriller End Of Watch starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena and Anna Kendrick. He has been tapped by Warner Bros. to pen the remake of Sam Peckinpah western The Wild Bunch, which Will Smith is in talks to lead. Ayer has written a string of hits including The Fast And The Furious, Training Day, and S.W.A.T. He is currently in post-production on the DC anti-hero flick Suicide Squad, which he wrote and directed.
David Feeney and John Quaintance have been staples of the sitcom world. Feeney has staffed on such series as 2 Broke Girls and New Girls while Quaintance has worked on Undateable, Bad Judge, and Clipped. The pair boy wrote for the Dana Fox series Ben & Kate starring Nat Faxon and Dakota Johnson. Feeney and Quaintance were featured on the Hit List with their script DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS. The script was picked up by Pacific Standard as a starring vehicle for Reese Witherspoon, and was produced with MGM Studios, New Line Cinema. The title was changed to Hot Pursuit and starred Sofia Vergara alongside Witherspoon, and was directed by Anne Fletcher.
Declan O’Dwyer has proven himself a master of storytelling as a director for years, helming episodes of several series including Robin Hood, Wire In The Blood, Merlin, and Atlantis. When he put pen to paper for his spec script BROKEN COVE, the industry took notice with script landing on the 2013 Hit List before being set up at ArtCastle Productions.
Edward Ricourt and Boaz Yakin shocked the industry when their film Now You See Me blew away box office predictions making a whopping $333 million worldwide. The Vegas-heist film starring Jessie Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, and Woody Harrelson was produced by Summit Entertainment. Their adaptation of the Kyle Kurpinski novel HOW TO DEFEAT YOUR CLONE earned them a slot on the 2013 Hit List. Ricourt then took on a consulting producer role in the Netflix series Jessica Jones while Yakin went on to write Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time for Walt Disney Pictures. Yakin most recently took on writing and directing duties with the family film Max for MGM and Warner Bros.
Elijah Bynum hit the list with two specs in 2013, and sold both of them: HOT SUMMER NIGHTS to Flashlight Films, and MISSISSIPPI MUD to Darko Entertainment. The former script took top honors in its year on the Hit List.
Hernany Perla made a name for himself in the development world prior to landing on the Hit List, after which he soon found his scripts Blink and 2013 nominee REVELATION moving into development as well. Perla continues to build his resume as a producer, on films like The Last Stand with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Nightingale with David Oyelowo. Perla’s script Torture Man, which he adapted from the book by Warren Adler, is currently in development with Grey Eagle Films.
Ian Goldberg and Richard Naing flew onto the Hit List with THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE. The film was made by 42 and Imposter Pictures, with IM Global as the studio. The Andre Ovredal-directed pic wrapped this year with stars Emile Hirsch and Brian Cox, and is currently awaiting release. The pair continued their feature writing partnership, penning The Boy Who Drew Monsters for New Line Cinema and Atomic Monster, Cropsey set up at DreamWorks Studios and Kennedy/Marshall Company, and the newest Friday The 13th film for Paramount and Platinum Dunes. Goldberg is also currently in development of the DC series Krypton for the Syfy Network and ABC Family/Freeform has given their show Dead Of Summer a series order.
Ian Schorr‘s CAPSULE and SPRING FALLS earned the talented scribe two spots on the 2013 Hit List. Capsule has since sold to 20th Century Fox with Hutch Parker Entertainment producing and Matthew Hoene set to direct, while Spring Falls landed at Bellevue Productions with John Zaozirny producing. Prior to 2013, Shorr’s script Splinter was made by Indion Film and Kish Productions and was released in 2008. 2015 saw his movie Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Story released from Gravitas Ventures and director James Moran. It starred Alexandra Breckenridge, Christopher Marquette, and Jake McDorman.
Jonathan Stokes has set up several specs since TCHAIKOVSKY’S REQUIEM made the list in 2013. He set up Blood Mountain with Derby Street Films and El Gringo with After Dark Films shortly after landing on the list. With Benedict Cumberbatch set to star in Blood Mountain, he then landed the coveted writing assignment of adapting Harlan Coben’s novel Six Years for Paramount and the Mark Gordon Company. Just this past summer, the rights to his own forthcoming book series The Thrifty Time Traveler’s Guide were picked up by Beau Flynn after a fierce bidding war.
Since the spec SPINBACK was highlighted on the Hit List writer John Swetnam has been very busy. 2013 saw the feature release of his script Evidence from FilmEngine, Marc Platt Productions, and Bold Films. The film starred Stephen Moyer and was directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi (another Hit List alum). He followed up penning Step Up All In for the massive dance franchise from Summit and Offspring Entertainment, which starred Ryan Guzman and Briana Evigan, and Into The Storm for New Line Cinema, Broken Road Productions, and Village Roadshow Pictures. The film starred Richard Armitage and Matt Walsh, and was directed by Steven Quale. Next up he is working on an Untitled Action Project for Paramount, Bad Robot, and 6th & Idaho.
REMINISCENCE showed the industry Lisa Joy’s skill at feature writing, but she has made a career in television having staffed on ABC’s Pushing Daisies and USA’s Burn Notice. She recently received a series order for her pilot Westworld for HBO from Warner Bros., Bad Robot, Jerry Weintraub Productions, and Killer Films. The series will star Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, and Jeffrey Wright. Just last year, Joy was announced as the writer behind an Untitled Spider-Man Female Superhero Spin-off for Columbia, with Matt Tolmach Productions, Arad Productions, and Marvel Entertainment producing.
Lucas Carter landed on the The Hit List with his feature script CAMDEN. The spec is currently set up at The Exchange and Intrigue. Intrigue is also in development with Carter and Olive Bridge Entertainment on the TV pilot All In, on which Carter is an executive producer. This spring will see the premiere of the series Carter created, Game Of Silence, on NBC from Sony and Universal.
After making the Hit List with PATIENT Z, Mike Le sold Dark Summer and Amnesiac, both of which were released this year. The former hails from Preferred Film & TV and IFC Films, and was directed by Paul Solet, whie the latter was produced by Infra-Red, Jeff Rice Films, No Mystery Media Partners, Rich Hippie Productions, Wiretape Films, and Defiant Pictures. His spec Desert Eagle has been set up at Universal with Tyrese Gibson set to star. The pairing with Gibson continued to be fruitful with the actor producing and starring in Extortion, which Le was brought in to rewrite, and producing The Big Test which Le wrote with Rock Shaink Jr.
Mike Maples penned the Emmy nominated Lifetime movie Miracle Run starring Mary-Louise Parker and a young Zac Efron. Maples’ thriller PADRE was included on the 2013 list and is set up at Screen Gems and The Exchange. He has specialized in adaptations of late, penning the scripts for The Samaritan, and The Ugly Little Boy for Warner Bros, with Demi Moore set to star.
PLANET X brought Olatunde Osunsamni attention on The Hit List but he has really gone on to grow a burgeoning career as a director, helming episodes for many television series including Under The Dome, Extant, Sleepy Hollow, and Minority Report. He is currently penning Zero-G for Fox with Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey, Eileen Goldsmith-Vein, and Richard Lebowitz producing. Meanwhile, previous Hit List spec Dark Moon is set up at Dark Castle with Joel Silver producing.
Peter Dowling landed on the list for his thriller HIGHRISE, which is currently in development at Fox 2000 and Jon Shestack Productions. Dowling penned the Jodie Foster hit Flightplan as well as the Samuel Jackson vehicle Reasonable Doubt. He also ventured into the director’s chair for the 2008 indie thriller Stag Night, starring Vinessa Shaw and Brackin Meyer. He is currently working on a slew of projects including the thriller The Diplomat as well as The Offer for Disney.
Spenser Cohen stormed on to the 2013 Hit List with his sci-fi/thriller EXTINCTION, now set up at Good Universe and Mandeville with Joe Johnston (Captain America: The First Avenger) set to take helm. His 2012 Hit List spec, High Value Target, an actioner about a battle between spec ops agents and Somali pirates, is in development at Vinson and Millennium. Patrick Hughes (The Expendables 3) is set to direct with Jason Statham attached to star. Cohen has also ventured into television, writing two TV movies. Stay, directed by Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure), just wrapped at ABC Family and stars Alicia Coppola. Mythos, an adventure piece, is in development at USA with Universal Cable Productions and Denver & Delilah are producing.
A former assistant to manager David McIlvan, Stephanie Shannon won the 2013 Nicholl Fellowship with her spec QUEEN OF HEARTS, a biopic focusing on the tumultuous love life of Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll. OddLot Entertainment and Brillstein Entertainment are set to produce with Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses, Identity Thief) attached to direct. Shannon is currently penning Imperative Entertainment’s adaptation of E. Lockhart’s teen drama We Were Liars.
Zak Olkewicz quickly found success after making the Young & Hungry List, selling his first spec just one month later. His follow up, INK AND BONE, landed on the Hit List and was picked up by Dimension and is being directed by fellow Young & Hungry alum Evan Daugherty. Zak hit the market with the pitch Elimination in 2013, which sold to 21 Laps and Fox Searchlight later that year. He then started 2015 with a bang, signing on to adapt James Wan’s graphic novel Malignant Man for Fox.
CHECK BACK TOMORROW FOR THE 2015 HIT LIST!