Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Courtney Meznarich

Celebrating The Screenwriters of Summer ‘99

Ahhhh, summer of 1999. I was a young teenager, sneakily watching R-rated movies at my friends’ houses, listening to Britney Spears, and trying to decipher adult whispers about Y2k. Were we all going to die? Meanwhile, brilliant things were happening in Hollywood. If the world had ended that year, at least we’d be leaving a bevy of fantastic films behind. That year was simply a great year for movies, so let’s relive those glory days with a recap of six of the summer ’99 cinematic greats and the screenwriters we have to thank for them.

The Phantom Menace

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

“Always two, there are. No more, no less. A master and an apprentice.”

Yoda
  • Screenplay by George Lucas

  • Released May 19, 1999

In past interviews, George Lucas said he waited more than a decade and a half to create “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace,” following the original “Star Wars” in 1977 because special effects technology had not advanced to a level that he felt necessary to make this film. Lucas said the original “Star Wars” story was too vast a universe to be covered in one movie and was always meant to have sequels or prequels. He began writing the screenplay for “Episode I,” the first in the trilogy, in 1994 based off an outline he’d created back in 1976 that helped him keep track of all the original Star Wars characters and backstories. After a 16-year gap between the original “Star Wars” and “Episode 1,” the anticipation had reached a boiling point, with many employers closing for opening day so employees could go see the film, according to The Wall Street Journal. It became the highest-grossing film of 1999, earning more than $924.3 million during its initial run.

Read the screenplay here American Pie

American Pie

“They probably have special dorms for people like us.”

Jim Levenstein
  • Written by Adam Herz

  • Released July 9, 1999

Adam Herz’ “American Pie” was a box office hit, especially for a teen comedy. He’s said to have written the film’s treatment during a vacation in 1998, which quickly moved into production for a summer ’99 release. At the time, Herz was only 27 and only had TV sitcom spec scripts in his arsenal. His agents encouraged him to write a feature, and “American Pie” was born. The script was crass but had heart and dealt with the human condition. Fans loved it, and Herz went on to make three sequels.

Read the screenplay here Notting Hill

Notting Hill

“It’s as if I’ve taken love heroin, and now I can’t ever have it again.”

William Thacker
  • Screenplay by Richard Curtis

  • Released May 28, 1999

Screenwriter Richard Curtis said the idea for “Notting Hill” came to him while he lay in bed one night and wondered what it would be like if he brought a very famous person over to a friend’s house for weekly dinner. While writing, he said he listened to Everything But The Girl’s version of ‘Downtown Train’ on repeat, because there was something in the tone of that song that he wanted to capture in the script. He must have been successful because the romantic comedy went on to gross more than $350 million worldwide. It was nominated for best motion picture, best actress and best actor at the Golden Globes, and won a BAFTA award.

Read the screenplay here The Blair Witch Project

The Blair Witch Project

“I’m scared to close my eyes. I’m scared to open them.”

Heather Donahue
  • Written by Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sanchez

  • Released July 30, 1999

Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez always planned for the dialogue in their film to be improvised, so you won’t find much of script for this ’99 found-footage horror film. In more of an outline, the pair loosely crafted a 35-page story on which to base the movie while they were in film school in Florida. They wanted the story to seem real, for which they relied on improvisation. The writers gave the actors instructions on where to take the story each day, and they filled in the blanks from there.

Eyes Wide Shut

Eyes Wide Shut

“No dream is ever just a dream.”

William Harford
  • Written by Stanley Kubrick, Frederic Raphael

  • Released July 16, 1999

Based on the 1936 novellaTraumnovelle(Dream Story) written by Arthur Schnitzler, Stanley Kubrick wrote the screenplay, produced, and directed “Eyes Wide Shut.” Kubrick originally bought the rights to the novel in the 60s but didn’t start writing the adaptation until hiring fellow writer Frederic Raphael to assist. The pair moved the location of the story from Vienna, Austria to New York City. Kubrick died six days after showing the final cut of the film to Warner Bros. Pictures.

Read the screenplay here The Sixth Sense

The Sixth Sense

“I see dead people.”

Cole Sear
  • Written by M. Night Shyamalan

  • Released August 6, 1999

M. Night Shyamalan’s thriller was nominated for the Best Screenplay Oscar and the Best Screenplay Golden Globe. It helped him make a name for himself as a writer and director and solidified his signature style for surprise endings. In past interviews, Shyamalan said the original story was a serial killer movie, and that Malcolm realizes his son is seeing the victims of the criminal. But all that changed, and in a rare occurrence of events, the screenplay was greenlit without a single rewrite. It sold for $3 million. The film went on to be the tenth highest-grossing horror films of all time.

Read the screenplay here

Hard to believe, but we’re just a couple weeks out from FALL 2019! What are some of your favorite fall season screenplays? Send me a tweet at @SoCreate, and we’ll try to highlight them here.

Until then, you’ve got a new summer watch list, screenwriter😊

The images in this blog have been modified from their original versions:

You may also be interested in...

Screenwriter stretches upward in front of a window

6 Stretches Screenwriters Should Do Daily

I once worked with a company that required its employees to take “ergo-breaks.” It sounds strange – both the name and the fact that it was enforced by a timer that acted as a kill switch to their computer every hour, on the hour – but the brief pause to step away from writing and get your wiggles out is effective, especially for those of us stuck on our work-in-progress. These easy stretches also get your blood flowing again, relieve physical tension, give you a boost of energy, and increase productivity. So, if that scene has got your teeth clenched in anger, or your shoulders nearing your ears in...
Screenwriting books

The Screenwriting Community’s Favorite Books for Scribes

I recently conducted a survey of screenwriters to learn more about what makes them tick: when do they write? Where do they write? What type of content do they find most useful? And where did they LEARN to write a screenplay? The last question was revealing: So many screenwriters never went to film school. They learned the craft by reading a ton of screenplays and screenwriting books. And you can, too. We asked the screenwriting community to name their favorite books for screenplay how-to’s, and here’s what they said, in no particular order. Save the Cat, by Blake...
Meditation pillow

Use This Screenwriter’s Meditation to Access Your Creativity

I recently came across Dr. Mihaela Ivan Holtz through a blog post that she authored on the topic of being a more fulfilled artist. I posted a link to her blog through SoCreate’s Twitter account, and it remains one of the most clicked article links that we’ve ever posted. As a psychotherapist who specializes in treating people in film, TV, and performing and fine arts, she had a unique viewpoint to offer on breaking through creative blocks. Her approach wasn’t one that I’d seen before on screenwriting blogs, which mostly focus on how-to guides, interviews with pros, and formatting rules. It goes...

Comments