Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Victoria Lucia

The Funniest Screenplay Rejections

Rejection is nothing new to screenwriters. Rejection is frequently referred to as merely a stage in the process. Due to this, screenwriting can often feel like a thankless job.

You pour your heart into crafting a story only to have it rejected by someone who denies its potential. While writers experience plenty of them, some rejections stick in your mind longer than others, especially if you receive them in a hilariously direct way.

The following examples prove that a rejection doesn't always mean your work isn't awesome!

So, turn that frown upside down; today, we're looking at some of the funniest screenplay rejections!

The Funniest Screenplay Rejections

The Wizard of Oz

"We can't make a film with no leading man and a mutt."

Executive at MGM rejecting an early draft of “The Wizard of Oz” script , The Making of The Wizard of Oz by Aljean Harmetz

Even a script as classic and beloved as “The Wizard of Oz” wasn't immune to rejection back in the day. Screenwriters Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allan Woolf received credit for the screenplay, with others making uncredited contributions. The famed script based on the book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” tells the story of Dorothy and her dog, Toto, as they're transported via tornado to a magical world.

While the above-mentioned executive didn't believe that a young girl and a dog could carry the film, the rest of the world seems to have disagreed. “The Wizard of Oz” has become one of the greatest movies of all time and is regarded as one of the most-seen movies in history.

The Graduate

"The story is implausible, and Dustin Hoffman is not attractive enough to be a movie star."

Executive at Paramount Pictures rejecting the script for “The Graduate” , Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood by Mark Harris

The 1967 film, “The Graduate” was shopped around quite a bit before it was sold. This romantic dramedy written by Buck Henry and Calder Willingham faced rejection after rejection, mostly due to people not accepting the plot.

The film follows a recent college graduate seduced by an older married woman who finds himself falling in love with her daughter.

Studio executives often complained that they couldn't see anyone wanting to see a movie about a young man having an affair with an older woman. While these rejections likely weren't funny at the time, looking back on the film and seeing not only how well it was received but also that it was the highest-grossing film of 1967 makes it funny now!


"We're not interested in boxing movies. Besides, who would want to see a movie about a guy with a speech impediment?"

United Artists executive rejecting the script for “Rocky”, Sylvester Stallone: A Biography by Michael Blitz and Louise Krasniewicz

Thankfully, the above quote was just one executive's take on the classic boxing film “Rocky.” While Sylvester Stallone wrote “Rocky” in only three days, he had a notoriously difficult time selling the script.

Eventually, executives at United Artists came around and wanted to produce the script about the underdog boxer, but they didn't want to cast Stallone in the film. Stallone refused to sell the script without the studio casting him in the lead role. At one point, the studio offered Stallone money not to take the role, but Stallone refused. Eventually, the studio and Stallone came to terms, and “Rocky” was made with Stallone in the leading role.

The film became the highest-grossing film of 1976, became a pop culture phenomenon, and spawned one of film's greatest sports franchises.

Pretty Woman

"It's too sweet, too sticky, and too romantic. It won't work."

Universal executive rejecting the script for “Pretty Woman”, The Men Who Would Be King: An Almost Epic Tale of Moguls, Movies, and a Company Called DreamWorks by Nicole LaPorte

Looking back, it's amazing that the film “Pretty Woman,” written by J. F. Lawton, was made. The romantic comedy - about a businessman who falls in love with an escort he hires - upset and confused executives with its subject matter.

Many people at the time couldn't imagine making a comedy about an escort falling in love. The subject seemed too dark for a rom-com, but perhaps that's exactly why the film works.

The film juxtaposes a harsh reality with a fairy tale ending, combined with charming performances by Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. We can see why this romance is still considered a classic today.


"This movie will never work. People don't want to see a bunch of teenagers singing and dancing."

Executive at Universal Pictures rejecting the script for “Grease” , Grease: The Official 40th Anniversary Celebration by Lucy O'Brien

Little did that executive know seeing teenagers singing and dancing was exactly what people wanted in 1978 when “Grease” was released and became both a critical and commercial hit. Bronté Woodard wrote “Grease” as an adaptation of a stage musical by the same name.

The film about a good girl meeting a greaser has become the highest-grossing musical ever! The film has also spawned a 1982 sequel and a 2023 prequel series currently streaming on Paramount +. Not bad for a bunch of teenagers singing and dancing!


It's important to remember that while these rejections may seem humorous in hindsight, they probably didn't feel that way at the time. Rejection may be challenging and frustrating for writers, especially when we invest our hearts and souls in a project.

Why you should switch to SoCreate...

SoCreate Changes Everything!

Try it now!

SoCreate Changes Everything!

Try it now!

These examples show that rejection is not always an indication of the caliber of the work.

Sometimes it just takes finding the right person who sees the true potential of a script. Even the most heartbreaking rejections can be transformed into opportunities for improvement and success if the writer maintains a sense of humor and a strong work ethic. So, don't stop writing or submitting, and never give up on your goals. Who knows, maybe your rejected script will be accepted one day. Happy writing!

You may also be interested in...

Reasons Why Your Script Has Been Rejected

Reasons Why Your Script Has Been Rejected

Every screenwriter experiences rejection. There can be numerous reasons why a screenplay gets rejected. Sometimes it has to do with small details not reflective of the script, and other times it's because of larger glaring issues with the script. Screenwriters should be aware of the possible reasons their scripts are being passed on. So, keep reading to find out why your script has been rejected! When a producer or industry executive declines to read your script or says it's not right for them, they'll often do so without explanation. That leaves you wondering … what the heck went wrong? Here are a few reasons why ...

How to Better Handle Rejection

"Writing in television is all about rejection. You're going to be rejected again, and again, and again. And you just can't take that personally, which is very, very hard. The people who make it are the ones who are prolific, those who can create more and more things and never stop writing." - Script Coordinator and TV Writer Marc Gaffen. Writers need hard talent but also a number of soft skills if they're going to make it in this business. Learning how to handle rejection is key because, unfortunately, rejection comes often. Whether it's professional, personal, or romantic rejection, the sting is surprisingly the same ...

This Shift in Perspective Will Help Screenwriters Better Handle Rejection

A University of Michigan study shows that our brain feels rejection the same way it experiences physical pain. Rejection really hurts. And unfortunately, screenwriters have to prepare themselves to feel a lot of pain. How could you not, after you’ve left your heart and soul on your pages, only to have someone tell you it’s not good enough? While the sting of rejection may never get easier (it’s built into our wiring, after all), there are ways screenwriters can get better at bouncing back, and bouncing back is vital in the entertainment business. We asked veteran TV writer and producer Ross Brown ...