Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Courtney Meznarich

This Month in Filmmaking History – December 2022 Roundup

  • On this day in history

        Schindler’s
       List

    screenplay by

    • Steven Zaillian

    Schindler’s List -

    “Schindler’s List,” written by screenwriter Steven Zaillian based on the novel “Schindler’s Ark,” debuted in New York City on this day in history in 1993. Steven Spielberg directed the film, which he chose to shoot entirely in black and white to create a sense of timelessness and a documentary feel. The script is based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, who saved more than 1,000 Jewish people during the Holocaust by giving them work at his factories. Spielberg initially tried to hand the job of directing off to several people because he felt he wasn’t ready to take on such a heavy topic. During that time, the screenplay went through several rewrites with several screenwriters, extending from 220 pages to 115 pages and back to 195. The film is considered one of the best movies ever made and won seven Oscars.

  • On this day in history

    Beverly
    Hills Cop

    screenplay by

    • Daniel Petrie Jr.

    Beverly Hills Cop -

    The highest-grossing US film of 1984, “Beverly Hills Cop,” premiered on this day in history. The story about a Detroit-based cop who goes to Beverly Hills to investigate a murder launched Eddie Murphy into fame. It earned screenwriter Daniel Petrie Jr. an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. The original script for the film, written by Danilo Bach, was strictly action. After a few rewrites, that project went stale, and Petrie was brought in. His screenplay had more comedic elements, which Paramount reportedly loved. But when Sylvester Stallone was later cast as the lead, he rewrote the screenplay to revert to a purely action script. Stallone dropped out two weeks before filming. The lead role went to Eddie Murphy, and Petrie again revised the script with humor. Two sequels followed, and Netflix now has film rights to make a fourth film for streaming.

    Read the screenplay for “Beverly Hills Cop.”

  • On this day in history

    The Lord of the Rings:
    The Return of the King

    screenplay by

    • Fran Walsh
    • Philippa Boyens
    • Peter Jackson

    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King -

    Like the two films in the trilogy before it, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” was written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson. It premiered on this day in history in 2003. It is the first fantasy adventure film to ever win an Oscar for Best Picture. It maintains a record-breaking number of Oscar wins, including Best Screenplay plus nine other categories. The film won every category for which it was nominated at the 2004 Oscars. It’s considered a landmark in fantasy filmmaking.

  • On this day in history

    Scarface

    screenplay by

    • Oliver Stone

    Scarface -

    Oliver Stone wrote the adapted version of “Scarface” while struggling with his own cocaine addiction. The film debuted on this day in 1983. He moved from the US to Paris to complete the job, fearing that being in the US would not allow him to break his addiction. The film is a remake of a 1932 film by the same name but uses drugs instead of alcohol in a more modern immigrant gangster storyline. Initially, Al Pacino wanted to keep the time period of the original movie in the new one as well but realized it would be hard to pull off. “Scarface” is considered a cult classic and is listed on AFI’s Top 10 Gangster Films.

  • On this day in history

         The Naked Gun:
    From the Files
        of Police Squad!

    screenplay by

    • David Zucker
    • Jim Abrahams
    • Jerry Zucker & Pat Proft

    The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! -

    Regarded as one of the greatest comedy films of all time, “The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!” premiered on this day in history in 1988. It was written by David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker, and Pat Proft, based on the lead character from the TV series “Police Squad,” which they were also behind. The movie is known for its fast-paced, slapstick comedy, and its success with both critics and audiences led to two sequels, including “The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear” and “Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult.”

  • On this day in history

     Jean-Luc
       Godard

    • Born on this day

    Jean-Luc Godard -

    French-Swiss filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard celebrates his birthday today. He is one of the fathers of the French New Wave film movement, which went against traditional movie-making in favor of experimenting with visuals, editing techniques, and narratives. He got his start as a film critic for the French magazine “Cahiers du Cinema,” where he was outspoken against French and Hollywood film conventions and eventually inspired to start making his own movies that challenged those ideas. Godard’s films include “Breathless,” “The Little Soldier,” and “My Life to Live.” 

  • On this day in history

    Adaptation.

    screenplay by

    • Charlie Kaufman

    Adaptation. -

    Charlie Kaufman wrote himself into his screenplay for the film “Adaptation.”, which premiered on this day in history in 2003. Nicolas Cage played his character. While Kaufman was initially meant to adapt the nonfiction book “The Orchid Thief” by Susan Orlean, he struggled with writer’s block so severely that he could think of nothing else than to write about his struggle with adapting the book into a screenplay. The approach worked, and on this day in history, the film premiered to mostly delighted audiences, who called the script epic, original, and rare. The script was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at the Academy Awards. The film has a 91 percent “Certified Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

  • On this day in history

    Tootsie

    screenplay by

    • Larry Gelbart
    • Murray Schisgal
    • Don McGuire

    Tootsie -

    “Tootsie” premiered on this day in history in 1982. The story follows a difficult actor who can’t seem to get a job because of the poor reputation he’s built, so he decides to pretend to be a woman to score a role. The comedy was adapted by Larry Gelbart and Murray Schisgal from a story by Gelbart and Don McGuire. Barry Levinson and Elaine May also worked on the script but are uncredited. The film was one of the most popular the year it debuted in 1982, and just before the turn of the century, the Library of Congress added it to the National Film Registry.

  • On this day in history

    The Lord of the Rings:
    The Two Towers

    screenplay by

    • Fran Walsh
    • Philippa Boyens
    • Peter Jackson & Stephen Sinclair

    The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers -

    “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,” written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, and Stephen Sinclair, is the second installment in the trilogy and debuted on this day in history just one year after the first film, “The Fellowship of the Ring.” Crews concurrently shot the principal photography for the entire trilogy, then conducted pick-up shots over the next couple of years. The writers didn’t adapt the film to be exactly like the book because they felt chronology was important to understand the movie. The screenplays are said to have evolved while the film was in production because the actors wanted to explore their characters more deeply.

  • On this day in history

    Million Dollar
        Baby

    screenplay by

    • Paul Haggis
    • F.X. Toole

    Million Dollar Baby -

    Paul Haggis wrote the screenplay for “Million Dollar Baby,” which premiered on this day in history in 2004. The story is based on short stories by boxing trainer F.X. Toole. The Academy nominated the script for best screenplay, and while it didn’t win the category, the film went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actor. Haggis did win the Discover Screenwriting Award from the American Screenwriters Association and Best Adapted Screenplay from the Satellite Awards.

  • On this day in history

     Walt
      Disney

    • Born on this day

    Walt Disney -

    Walt Disney was born on this day in history in 1901. He was just 27 years old when he developed Mickey Mouse, probably the most famous cartoon character on the planet all these years later. Disney got his first illustrator job when he was just 18, and he’d go on to be a pioneer in animated film. He founded Disney Brothers Studios with his brother Roy in the early 1920s, producing films including “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Dumbo,” and “Bambi,” before getting the idea for Disneyland in the 1950s. He still holds the record for the most Oscars won by a single person, and while his brand now spans the globe, it has maintained its image of wholesome entertainment for the past 100 years.

  • On this day in history

     Fritz
       Lang

    • Born on this day

    Fritz Lang -

    Austrian and German filmmaker Fritz Lang was born on this day in history in 1890 in Vienna, Austria. He passed away at age 85 in Beverly Hills, California, after becoming a naturalized American citizen. Initially, he studied civil engineering in school but later made the switch to study art. It wasn’t until after fighting in World War I for the Austrian Army that he tried his hand at writing for film. He had been shot in the eye and was recovering from shell shock when he came up with some of his earliest ideas for movies. He’d later become one of the pioneers of the Expressionist movement, combining art cinema with more popular genres for a unique take on entertainment that helped launch the Hollywood film noir. His most famous films include “Human Desire” and “Manhunt,” and the British Film Institute nicknamed him the “Master of Darkness.”

  • On this day in history

        Edward
        Scissorhands

    screenplay by

    • Tim Burton

    Edward Scissorhands -

    Caroline Thompson wrote “Edward Scissorhands” as a spec script for Tim Burton while he was still in production on “Beetlejuice.” The film premiered on this day in history in 1990. Burton had the initial idea for the character with hands made of blades while he was a teen growing up in Burbank, California. He drew a picture of the character, saying it depicted a person who felt alone like he did. Burton liked Thompson’s novel-writing style and invited her to write the screenplay. She wrote it as a “love poem” to Burton, and the film won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and the Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film.

  • On this day in history

    The Great
       Train Robbery

    screenplay by

    • Edwin S. Porter

    The Great Train Robbery -

    Largely considered the first American action flick, “The Great Trian Robbery” premiered during this month in history in 1903. It was written, produced, and directed by Edwin S. Porter. The film’s run time is just 12 minutes, but it made history because of the cross-cutting technique used to show two different locations simultaneously. It was also one of the first films to be shot on location, with dynamic camerawork different from what audiences were used to seeing.

  • On this day in history

    Heat

    screenplay by

    • Michael Mann

    Heat -

    “Heat,” which debuted on this day in history in 1995, is a crime drama that follows a lifelong criminal and the detective trying to track him down. It was written, produced, and directed by Michael Mann, as a remake of a TV series he had worked on that was never released. Critics praised the script for its intellectual dialogue and its deep dive into good and evil, criminals versus cops. The film inspired the hugely popular video game Grand Theft Auto III, and Grand Theft Auto V. Mann completed a prequel novel to “Heat” called “Heat 2,” which already has a film adaptation underway.

  • On this day in history

    Brokeback
         Mountain

    screenplay by

    • Larry McMurtry
    • Diana Ossana

    Brokeback Mountain -

    Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana wrote the screenplay for “Brokeback Mountain,” a film that brought queer cinema to mainstream audiences on this day in history in 2005. The romantic drama is about the decades-long complicated relationship between two men in the American West. It’s based on a short story by Annie Proulx. Proulx was incredibly happy with the adaptation, saying McMurtry and Ossana were faithful to her original story and wrote “an exceptionally fine screenplay.” The pair won Best Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars, and the film was a commercial success despite its distribution being blocked by several countries for its subject matter.

  • On this day in history

    Ocean’s
       Eleven

    screenplay by

    • Harry Brown
    • Charles Lederer
    • Ted Griffin

    Ocean’s Eleven -

    The remake of “Ocean’s Eleven” debuted on this day in history in 2001, 40 years after the original “Ocean’s 11,” starring Frank Sinatra. Harry Brown and Charles Lederer wrote the 1960s screenplay, and Ted Griffin used it as inspiration for his 21st-century script. The modern version of the movie was praised for its quick wit, high energy, and incredible heist, which relied on “the pinch” to black out power in Las Vegas using a Z machine housed in a van. Though the way Griffin depicted it is unrealistically small, the Sandia z-pinch is a real high-frequency electromagnetic wave generator that is housed in New Mexico. It’s over 100 feet wide and 20 feet tall.

  • On this day in history

    Star Trek:
        The Motion Picture

    screenplay by

    • screenplay by

    Star Trek: The Motion Picture -

    Ten years after the television show was canceled, “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” premiered to delighted Trekkie fans across North America on this day in 1979. Harold Livingston wrote the screenplay, based on creator Gene Roddenberry’s original television series. Roddenberry had petitioned Paramount to make a film ever since the show was canceled in 1969. Still, the studio was unconvinced that it would do well at the box office and ordered a revived Star Trek television show instead. After the success of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” in theaters, the studio changed its mind and asked writers to quickly adapt the pilot episode for the new TV show into a film instead. Though the film profited, it received mixed reviews from critics who said it relied too heavily on special effects.

    Read the screenplay for “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.”

  • On this day in history

    Georges
    Méliès

    • Born on this day

    Georges Méliès -

    Georges Méliès was born on this day in history in 1861 and was known as one of the originators of the science fiction film genre. His films “A Trip to the Moon” and “The Impossible Voyage” both dealt with strange lands and adventure. He loved to use and create special effects and is responsible for making techniques like time lapses, dissolves, and hand-painted film popular.

  • On this day in history

    Apocalypto

    screenplay by

    • Mel Gibson
    • Farhad Safina

    Apocalypto -

    “Apocalypto,” written by Mel Gibson and Farhad Safina, debuted on this day in history in 2006. The story follows the hero’s journey of Jaguar Paw, a young Maya, husband, and father who fights for his life when he’s threatened as a human sacrifice. The film is a unique action-adventure in that its main dialogue is in Mayan, translated for the audience with subtitles. Gibson, who also directed the film, wanted the audience to connect with what was happening in the visuals, not just the dialogue. Gibson and Safina got help from a consultant specializing in Maya history to make the film as accurate as possible.

  • On this day in history

    Gangs of
    New York

    screenplay by

    • Jay Cocks
    • Steven Zaillian
    • Kenneth Lonergan

    Gangs of New York -

    Director Martin Scorsese bought the rights to Herbert Asbury’s “Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld” 20 years before the film finally debuted on this day in 2002. At the time, Scorsese wasn’t the huge name he is today and had trouble getting the production to move forward. Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian, and Kenneth Lonergan were brought on to adapt the book into the screenplay, which became a chart-topper on many best-of lists.

  • On this day in history

    The Wolf Man

    screenplay by

    • Curt Siodmak

    The Wolf Man -

    Perhaps responsible for the way werewolves are depicted in Hollywood today, “The Wolf Man” is a horror film written by Curt Siodmak that inspired many werewolf films after it. It first premiered on this day in history in 1941. Siodmak wrote an eerie poem in the film that is also used in sequels, where he says the werewolf transformation happens when “the wolfbane blooms in autumn.” The visuals, however, were always tied to the full moon rising, even though it wasn’t the full moon that transformed the man into a werewolf. Experts believe this is where the full moon transformation stemmed from, often seen in later werewolf films.

  • On this day in history

    Buck
       Henry

    • Born on this day

    Buck Henry -

    Actor, screenwriter, and director Buck Henry passed away in early 2020 at 89. He was born on this day in 1930. Henry acted in many of the films he wrote and directed and performed several recurring characters on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.” He’s best known for his Oscar-nominated screenplay for “The Graduate,” which he wrote with Calder Willingham, and “Heaven Can Wait,” for which he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Director alongside Warren Beatty. He won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for co-creating “Get Smart,” a popular comedy show that aired in the late 60s.

  • On this day in history

    A Charlie Brown
       Christmas

    screenplay by

    • Charles M. Schulz

    A Charlie Brown Christmas -

    Watching Charles M. Shulz’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is a beloved annual tradition for Americans who celebrate Christmas. The made-for-TV movie debuted on this day in history in 1965. While Shulz’s “Peanuts” comic strip had already become a household name worldwide by the 60s, this was the first time his stories had been turned into a TV special. He developed the script over several weeks, and CBS produced it in just six months. But the network was sure the cartoon would flop, saying it was too slow, its tone was weak, and the jazz score wasn’t a good fit. Audiences disagreed, though; the TV special has aired every Christmas season since. It established the style for several “Peanuts” movies after it. 

  • On this day in history

    There Will
      Be Blood

    screenplay by

    • Paul Thomas Anderson

    There Will Be Blood -

    “There Will Be Blood” debuted on this day in history in 2007, written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. The story is loosely based on the first 150 pages of the book Oil! by Upton Sinclair, which describes the early 20th-century oil boom in Southern California. Anderson is said to have visited oil museums in Bakersfield to get a real feel for the story while he was writing it. He said he always wrote the lead character with actor Daniel Day-Lewis in mind to play the role. Day-Lewis won Best Actor at the 2008 Academy Awards for his portrayal of Daniel Plainview. Anderson was nominated for Best Director and Adapted Screenplay, plus five more nominations to bring the total count to eight.

  • On this day in history

    The Lord of the Rings:
    The Fellowship of the Ring

    screenplay by

    • Fran Walsh
    • Philippa Boyens
    • Peter Jackson

    The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring -

    “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” debuted on this day in history in 2001. Adapted from the book trilogy by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson, the writing team significantly condensed the book’s story. It changed certain elements chronologically to make the screenplay flow better. J.R.R. Tolkien’s original book wasn’t meant to be a trilogy but was split into three by the publisher, so the first book in the series ended anti-climactically, which needed to be changed for the film. The movie is considered one of the greatest fantasy films ever made.

  • On this day in history

    Superman:
      The Movie

    screenplay by

    • Mario Puzo
    • David Newman, Leslie Newman
    • Robert Benton

    Superman: The Movie -

    “Superman: The Movie” premiered on this day in history in 1978 and led the way for all superhero films after it, both in storytelling style and cutting-edge special effects. Screenwriters Mario Puzo, David Newman, Leslie Newman, and Robert Benton based the origin story of Superman on the DC Comics character. They wrote the sequel to the film at the same time, anticipating that production would take place for both movies simultaneously. By the time the shooting scripts were finished, the story totaled 550 pages, so Director Richard Donner brought in screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz to revise it, calling the long-form version “well written, but still a ridiculous script. You can’t shoot this screenplay because you’ll be shooting for five years.” The WGA refused to give screenplay credit to Mankiewicz, so Donner gave him creative consultant credit instead. At the time, it was the most expensive movie ever made at $55 million.

  • On this day in history

    Wall Street

    screenplay by

    • Stanley Weiser
    • Oliver Stone

    Wall Street -

    Oliver Stone and Stanley Weiser’s “Wall Street” debuted on this day in history in 1987. It’s based on 80’s Wall Street, with the lead character Gordon Gekko based on several people, including Stone himself. Stone originally brought on Weiser to write a script about quiz show scandals but later suggested Weiser research Wall Street and write a screenplay about that instead. Weiser wrote the first draft, and Stone wrote the second. For historical accuracy, both spent weeks interviewing investors at brokerage houses. Michael Douglas won best actor at the Academy Awards that year for his portrayal of Gekko.

  • On this day in history

    Django
       Unchained

    screenplay by

    • Quentin Tarantino

    Django Unchained -

    Quentin Tarantino’s most successful movie, “Django Unchained,” premiered on this day in history in 2012. The award-winning film is considered a revisionist Western, overturning the traditional themes of a Western. In “Django Unchained,” a formerly enslaved person and a German bounty hunter set out to save the former’s wife from a plantation owner. Tarantino came up with the screenplay idea while writing a book on Italian filmmaker Sergio Corbucci, who made the 1966 spaghetti Western “Django.” Tarantino won an Oscar for the screenplay, and the movie was nominated for Best Picture. It earned $435 million at the box office and remains his highest-grossing film.

    Read the screenplay for “Django Unchained.”

  • On this day in history

    The Godfather:
    Part II

    screenplay by

    • Francis Ford Coppola
    • Mario Puzo

    The Godfather: Part II -

    The first sequel to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, “The Godfather: Part II,” was co-written by Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo, based on part of Puzo’s novel “The Godfather.” It premiered on this day in history in 1974. The film also won Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor that year. Some critics say the film is even better than the first. The script is unique in that it is both a sequel and prequel, telling the story of the rise of the mob family under their father and the fall of the family under the son.

  • On this day in history

    Rain Man

    screenplay by

    • Ronald Bass
    • Barry Morrow

    Rain Man -

    “Rain Main,” written by Ronald Bass and Barry Morrow, premiered on this day in history in 1988. It won Best Original Screenplay, Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor at the Academy Awards and was the highest-grossing film of 1988. The story is about two brothers, one who’s a savant and inherits his dad’s fortune, and the other who didn’t even know the former existed. The film got the green light based solely on the pitch.

  • On this day in history

    Let the Right
      One In

    screenplay by

    • John Ajvide Lindqvist

    Let the Right One In -

    Swedish writer John Ajvide Lindqvist adapted his novel “Let the Right One In” to a romantic horror screenplay with the same name, and it debuted on this day in 2008. The story follows a young boy who becomes friends with a vampire child in Stockholm. Director Tomas Alfredson wasn’t convinced that Lindqvist could do a good job on the script, but Lindqvist insisted he write it himself. The movie was a hit with critics, who liked that the film wasn’t just another vampire movie but instead relied on great storytelling. The film’s success was widespread. It earned awards worldwide, including Best Narrative Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival, the Saturn Award for Best International Film, and the European Fantastic Film Festival’s Golden Méliès.

  • On this day in history

    A Beautiful
    Mind

    screenplay by

    • Akiva Goldsman
    • Sylvia Nasar

    A Beautiful Mind -

    “A Beautiful Mind” is based on a book by the same name, written by Sylvia Nasar. Akiva Goldsman adapted the story of Economics Nobel Laureate John Nash into the movie we know today, and it debuted on this day in history in 2001. Producer Brian Grazer chose Goldsman to write the script because he showed a strong passion for it. It was his idea to prevent viewers from knowing they were watching an alternate reality until a certain point in the movie. Goldsman won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, and the film won Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actress that year.

  • On this day in history

    The Aviator

    screenplay by

    • John Logan

    The Aviator -

    “The Aviator,” written by John Logan and directed by Martin Scorsese, premiered on this day in history in 2004. It follows the true story of aviator and film producer Howard Hughes, including his rise to success and his internal battle with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Logan received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay for the story, and the film was nominated for ten additional Academy Awards that year. Logan’s agent reportedly wrote a provision into the “The Aviator” contract that guaranteed Logan sole writing credit on the film. This also blocked producers from hiring other writers to revise Logan’s original work.

  • On this day in history

    Philadelphia

    screenplay by

    • Ron Nyswaner

    Philadelphia -

    “Philadelphia” was a huge success at the box office when it premiered on this day in history in 1993; it grossed more than $206 million on a $26 million budget. Ron Nyswaner wrote the screenplay, based loosely on the lives of attorneys Geoffrey Bowers and Clarence B. Cain. Roger Ebert praised the film, giving it three and a half out of four stars and saying the film could be responsible for broadening the understanding of AIDs. Nyswaner is openly gay and an advocate for gay rights, having worked on several projects with topics around homophobia and AIDs. “Philadelphia” was nominated for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar but won for Best Actor and Best Original Song.

  • On this day in history

    The Jerk

    screenplay by

    • Steve Martin
    • Carl Gottlieb
    • Michael Elias

    The Jerk -

    Steve Martin both starred in and co-wrote “The Jerk,” along with screenwriters Carl Gottlieb and Michael Elias, which premiered on this day in history in 1979. It was Martin’s first starring role in a movie, though he was already a very popular comedian. He used some of his standup in the script, and the trio worked hard to ensure there was at least one laugh on every page of the screenplay. Martin’s naïve character, named Navin, is an adopted white son to black parents who decides on his 18th birthday that he wants to leave home and discover the big city. He has no idea he is adopted, and hilarity ensues. The comedy was a big success, earning $100 million against a $4 million budget. 

  • On this day in history

    True
    Grit

    screenplay by

    • Ethan Coen
    • Joel Coen

    True Grit -

    The Coen Brothers’ “True Grit” premiered on this day in history in 2010, based on the 1968 Charles Portis novel of the same name. Though adapted to a film once before in 1969, Ethan and Joel Coen wanted to create a version of the story that was truer to the novel, meaning it would have to be told more from the perspective of a 14-year-old girl like the book was. The brothers knew that the entire movie hinged on getting a great actor to play the part of 14-year-old farm girl Mattie Ross, and they found their star in then 13-year-old Hailee Steinfeld among 15,000 applicants for the part. She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars that year, and the film earned nine additional nominations, including Best Adapted Screenplay.

    Read the screenplay for “True Grit.”

  • On this day in history

    Glory

    screenplay by

    • Kevin Jarre

    Glory -

    “Glory,” written by Kevin Jarre and directed by Edward Zwick, is a Civil War movie based on the true story of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. It premiered on this day in history in 1989. The film follows the second African American regiment in the war and their heroism in the Second Battle of Fort Wagner. Jarre visited the monument to the unit and was inspired to write the film. He based it on two different historical books and the personal letters of the regiment’s commanding officer, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. The film is said to be the first major movie to focus on the Civil War story of black US soldiers fighting for their freedom.

  • On this day in history

    Young
            Frankenstein

    screenplay by

    • Gene Wilder
    • Mel Brooks

    Young Frankenstein -

    Written by Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks, “Young Frankenstein” is a comedic take on the horror story “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley. It premiered on this day in history in 1974. It’s been named to several best of comedy lists and was even chosen for preservation in the Library of Congress National Film Registry. Wilder came up with the idea for a story about Victor Frankenstein’s grandson and what would happen if he inherited his grandfather’s research and lab but wanted nothing to do with it. He and Brooks finished the screenplay together at his Bel Air Hotel bungalow.

  • On this day in history

    Gone With
       the Wind

    screenplay y

    • Sidney Howard

    Gone With the Wind -

    Adjusted for inflation, Sidney Howard’s “Gone With the Wind” is the highest-grossing film in history. It debuted on this day in history in 1939. Howard’s adapted screenplay is based on Margaret Mitchell’s novel, published just a few years before the film’s release. Howard’s first draft would have equaled a six-hour-long movie, so he was asked to work on set to revise it. But, he refused to leave New England, so several writers were hired to fix the script. One of those writers, Ben Hecht, was given just five days to rewrite the screenplay, but he could only get through half. Producer David Selznick finished it. Howard died before the movie premiered, and he was ultimately awarded full screenplay credit.

  • On this day in history

    Avatar

    screenplay by

    • James Cameron

    Avatar -

    James Cameron’s “Avatar” was revolutionary for many reasons, including the scope of special effects, the Na’vi language, and the box office success. Cameron broke his box office record for “Titanic” by bringing in more than $2.7 billion worldwide when the film premiered on this day in history in 2009. Cameron had the initial idea for “Avatar” in the late 90s but held off making the film until the special effects technology was more advanced. He worked with a linguist at USC to develop more than 1,000 words for the Na’vi to use in his script. In 2022, Cameron is set to release Avatar 2, followed by Avatar 3 in 2024.

  • On this day in history

    James
        Mangold

    • Born on this day

    James Mangold -

    Happy birthday, James Mangold! We have Mangold to thank for his scripts for films, including “Cop Land,” “Girl Interrupted,” “Kate & Leopold,” and “Walk the Line.” He also directed those films and more, including “Ford v Ferrari.” Mangold’s writing on the 2017 “Logan” Marvel Comics film was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay that year.

  • On this day in history

    Saturday Night
        Fever

    screenplay by

    • Norman Wexler

    Saturday Night Fever -

    Did you know that “Saturday Night Fever,” which premiered on this day in 1977, was based on a real New York Magazine article that was later found to be fake? Norman Wexler wrote the screenplay about lead character Tony Manero after reading Nik Cohn’s article titled “Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night.” The report supposedly details disco subculture in the 70s, centered around a man named Vincent, but 20 years later, Cohn admitted that he had made it all up. He did, in fact, visit a disco as research for his article, but when he arrived, someone threw up on his pants, and he quickly left. He combined his memory of a man outside the disco with various characters from his childhood to create Vincent. The resulting dance drama launched John Travolta into stardom, and the soundtrack featuring the Bee Gees is still one of the best-selling of all time.

  • On this day in history

        All That
    Jazz

    screenplay by

    • Alan Aurthur
    • Bob Fosse

    All That Jazz -

    “All That Jazz” hit theaters on this day in history in 1979, written by Alan Arthur and Bob Fosse as a semi-autobiographical nod to Fosse’s life as a dancer and choreographer. The musical drama combined fantasy and plenty of performance to tell the story of Joe Gideon, a womanizing and drug-using theater director. The story was inspired by Fosse’s own efforts to edit his film, “Lenny,” while also working on the Broadway musical “Chicago.” “All That Jazz” is a musical number that occurs in “Chicago.” Though the movie was nominated for and won several awards, critics felt the story was manic, egotistic, and indulgent, and reviews were mixed. Today, the film is well-respected and earned a spot as a preserved movie in the Library of Congress for being historically and culturally significant.

  • On this day in history

    Magnolia

    screenplay by

    • Paul Thomas Anderson

    Magnolia -

    “Magnolia” debuted on this day in history in 1999. The film was written, directed, and co-produced by Paul Thomas Anderson. He said he was inspired to write the story as post-production on “Boogie Nights” was concluding. He reportedly had the title of “Magnolia” in his head before he even started writing. New Line Cinema gave him a virtual blank slate to make whatever kind of film he wanted because of “Boogie Nights” huge success. He said Aimee Mann’s music largely inspired him, and he used some of her lyrics in the screenplay.

  • On this day in history

    The Simpsons

    created by

    • James L. Brooks
    • Matt Groening
    • Sam Simon

    The Simpsons -

    “The Simpsons,” created by Matt Groening, Sam Simon, and James L. Brooks, premiered on this day in history in 1989. The show has employed dozens of writers over the years, including celebrities Conan O’Brien, Ricky Gervais, Seth Rogan, and Evan Goldberg. The writers’ room reportedly consists of 16 writers who all pitch ideas once a year, then one writer per episode is tasked with writing the first draft. Later, group rewriting sessions commence. “The Simpsons” is the longest-running American sitcom and scripted television series, with 671 episodes to date. It’s currently in its 34th season.

  • On this day in history

    Barry Lyndon

    screenplay by

    • Stanley Kubrick

    Barry Lyndon -

    The film “Barry Lyndon” was written and directed by Stanley Kubrick, and today is considered one of his crowning achievements. It debuted on this day in history in 1975. The story is based on William Thackeray’s “The Luck of Barry Lyndon” novel and follows an Irish rogue who marries a rich widow to assume her ex-husband’s elite status. Critics have called the film’s cinematography “groundbreaking” for its settings (modeled after William Hogarth paintings) and use of natural candlelight.

  • On this day in history

    Scream

    screenplay by

    • Kevin Williamson

    Scream -

    Kevin Williamson’s “Scream,” which premiered on this day in history in 1996, is credited with bringing the horror genre back to life in the mid-90s when other slasher films were going straight to video and not making much money. Williamson wasn’t making much money himself at the time and reportedly holed up in a home in Palm Springs for three days to write the script, hoping he’d be able to sell it to pay his bills quickly. He also wrote an outline for two sequels, thinking it might convince buyers that the story had legs. While Williamson’s agent told him the script was too gory to sell, Miramax thought otherwise and bought it. “Scream” opened in limited theaters in December 1996, and after a re-release in April the following year, it grossed more than $170 million on a $15 million budget.

  • On this day in history

    Steven
       Spielberg

    • Born on this day

    Steven Spielberg -

    Happy birthday, Steven Spielberg! The filmmaker was born on this day in Cincinnati, Ohio. He grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family and said he was bullied terribly for it. So, Spielberg retreated to his creativity, making his first movie at the age of 12. When he was 16, he made a 140-minute science fiction feature, "Firelight,” which was shown at a local theater. He later became the youngest director ever to earn a long-term contract with a Hollywood studio when he was hired on for seven years following an unpaid internship with the editing department at Universal Studios. He’s now one of the most influential directors of all time, making movies about characters who experience extraordinary circumstances, with themes of optimism threaded throughout. His most famous films include “Jaws,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “ET the Extra-Terrestrial,” “Indiana Jones,” “Jurassic Park,” and “Saving Private Ryan.”

  • On this day in history

    The King
    of Comedy

    screenplay by

    • Paul D. Zimmerman

    The King of Comedy -

    Paul D. Zimmerman wrote the screenplay for “The King of Comedy,” a black comedy-drama that premiered on this day in 1982. The story follows an aspiring but unsuccessful comic who wants fame, so he stalks and kidnaps his idol and demands he be featured on his comedy show as ransom. The movie deals with themes of a celebrity-obsessed culture and stars Robert De Niro as the lead. Zimmerman said he was inspired to write the screenplay after watching a show about autograph hunters, as well as reading an article on an obsessed Johnny Carson follower. Critics loved the movie, but it actually bombed at the box office, grossing just $2.5m against its $19m budget.

  • On this day in history

    A Clockwork
         Orange

    screenplay by

    • Stanley Kubrick