Elizabeth Currid on Hollywood’s 2009 “Black List”

I admit, I had never heard of The Black List until I read Elizabeth Currid’s article in today’s Los Angeles Times.

So, for those of you not “in the know” either, here’s a quick description from Currid:

Known as the Black List, this annual ranking of the year’s most-talked-about unproduced screenplays has the power to catapult an unknown screenwriter into instant talks with a major studio. That’s how Diablo Cody, writer of “Juno,” got her break.

Currid, who previously examined the importance of cultural sites for economics in The Warhol Economy, looks at the box-office success of past black list scripts. This practical approach is fascinating.

Altogether, 67 Black List scripts from 2005 were turned into movies between 2006 and 2008, and they collectively generated $2.5 billion in U.S. box-office receipts. That figure is equivalent to the total of the top 10 earners in 2008.

Given this track record, why has the Black List achieved such inordinate influence?

Head over to the LA Times web site to read the complete article, and for a sneak preview of this year’s possible black list scripts, visit Indie Movies Online. The official list is circulated only to industry executives, though it almost always slips out into the media.


  1. If you can have an award for bad writing—the 2009 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for writing the world’s worst opening sentence to an imaginary novel has gone to Quality Systems consultant and writer, David McKenzie–why should Hollywood not have its Black List? Both throw up opportunities for the writer who is at the epicenter of discussion.

  2. In hollywood, there can be an special category for black list scripted movies specially for writers as there are already many such categories for negative roles, why not one for a negative scripted movie?

  3. As a screenwriter myself, I can honestly say the black list is a welcome option for those of us that slave to the bone for almost no love, recognition or opportunity. Screenwriting without guild representation, solid agent or connections is like swimming in a vast black see of darkness without hope or chance. Viva la negro lista!

  4. comforter sets says:

    I’d be curious to find out how many of those 67 black list movies from 2005 ended up as top 10 movies in the year they came out. I bet there are a handful. I love it when something great is discovered out of what seems like nowhere. Diamonds in the rough are sometimes the most beautiful diamonds of all.

  5. I’ve almost stopped watching anything but Indie films as there is a ton of garbage that goes mainstream. Thank you for your insightful post.

  6. It would seem that super heroes and kid movies are all we have to choose from. It’s shocking what gets an Emmy or Academy these days. Movies cost a fortune to see in the theater but if you have seen the previews on TV then you have already seen the movie.

  7. Robert, I’m right there with you buddy. I tend to stick to indie film-watching myself.