Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Courtney Meznarich

This Month in History – June Roundup

  • On this day in history

                       The
    Wire

    created by

    • David Simon

    The Wire -

    David Simon's "The Wire" debuted on this day in history in 2002 on HBO. Simon is a former police reporter, and his writing partner Ed Burns is a former homicide detective. Simon wanted to create a show that offered a realistic portrayal of law enforcement and its interactions with various city groups in Baltimore, Maryland, including schools, government, and media. The show wrapped up in 2008, and although it wasn't a massive hit with critics at the time, it's now considered one of the great television shows for its portrayal of real, urban life.  

  • On this day in history

    BIG

    screenplay by

    • Gary Ross
    • Anne Spielberg

    BIG -

    Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg were nominated for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for "Big," a film starring Tom Hanks that follows a kid who wishes to be big, and becomes an adult overnight. Hanks was also nominated for Best Actor for the film, which went on to become a huge box office success. The movie had an $18 million budget and grossed $151 million worldwide.

  • On this day in history

        The Truman
    Show

    screenplay by

    • Andrew Niccol

    The Truman Show -

    Andrew Niccol both wrote and co-produced "The Truman Show," which debuted on this day in history in 1998. Niccol was inspired to write the spec script after watching an episode of "The Twilight Zone," and his original version was more of a science-fiction thriller than the comedy-drama that was later produced. After producer Scott Rudin purchased the script, Niccol rewrote it a reported 16 times before director Peter Weir felt it was ready for filming. Niccol was originally going to direct the film, too, which would have been his directorial debut, but Paramount Pictures felt the budget was too big to hand over to a first-timer, so they paid Niccol extra money to step aside. In all, he was paid around $1 million for the script.

  • On this day in history

    Ghostbusters

    screenplay by

    • Dan Aykroyd
    • Harold Ramis

    Ghostbusters -

    Did you know that one of the "Ghostbusters" himself wrote the script for the film? Dan Aykroyd was always interested in the supernatural, and his original idea for the movie starred himself and John Belushi traveling through time to combat supernatural villains. The studio felt his concept would be too expensive to produce, so, following Belushi's death, Aykroyd teamed up with Harold Ramis to rewrite the script, moving its central location to New York City. "Ghostbusters" became a cultural phenomenon, and spawned a massive media franchise.

  • On this day in history

    Gremlins

    screenplay by

    • Chris Columbus

    Gremlins -

    Ever wonder where the rating of PG-13 came from? You can thank "Gremlins" for that. Written by Chris Columbus, the story follows a kid who is given a creature that spawns evil little monsters, who then go on a violent rampage. Critics liked the movie, but many people felt it was too violent for it's PG rating. They complained to the Motion Picture Association of America, who, in turn, added a new PG-13 rating a couple of months later. Columbus said he got the idea for the spec script from his old loft, where he'd often hear a "platoon of mice skittering around in the blackness." He wrote the script just to show potential employers that he had writing skills, but Steven Spielberg came across the screenplay and loved its original concept, so he bought it.

  • On this day in history

    David
      Koepp

    • Happy birthday!

    David Koepp -

    Happy birthday to David Koepp, one of the most successful American screenwriters of all time (by gross box office receipts). Koepp is best known for writing the screenplays for "Jurassic Park," "Mission: Impossible," "Spider-Man," and "War of the Worlds," but his range is wide. He's written across all genres, including the horror flick "Panic Room," which he sold for $4 million.

  • On this day in history

        Jurassic
    Park

    screenplay by

    • Michael Crichton
    • David Koepp

    Jurassic Park -

    "Jurassic Park" made history when it debuted on this day in 1993. The story is based on Michael Crichton's novel by the same name, which he adapted for the screen for an additional $500,000 fee after Steven Spielberg acquired rights to the book for $1.5 million. David Koepp wrote the final draft, toning down a lot of the violence that was in the book. The movie used revolutionary computer-generated imagery and broke box office records as the highest-grossing film of all time at that point in history.

  • On this day in history

    Raiders
             of the
         Lost Ark

    screenplay by

    • Lawrence Kasdan

    Raiders of the Lost Ark -

    Did you know that the name Indiana in "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark" came from George Lucas' pet dog? His Alaskan Malamute also inspired the character of "Star Wars" Chewbacca. Lucas conceived the story of Indiana Jones as a trilogy and convinced Steven Spielberg to direct it before hiring Lawrence Kasdan to write the script. The three would talk for hours a day about ideas for the script, and Kasdan would write down their conversations. It took him six months to sort through the conversations and write a first-draft, 100-page screenplay. Five drafts later, and the film began production in June 1980.

  • On this day in history

                     The
      Shining

    screenplay by

    • Stanley Kubrick
    • Diane Johnson

    The Shining -

    "The Shining" terrified audiences around the world during its wide release on this day in history in 1980. Based on the Stephen King novel, Stanley Kubrick and Diane Johnson adapted the story for the screen about a writer who takes a job as an off-season caretaker at a hotel, bringing his family along for the terror. Critics said the film was too slow, and the script removed much of what was so terrifying in King's book. King agreed, saying it is the only one of his novel adaptations that he could remember hating. Kubrick was even nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Director. But, it's now considered one of the best horror films ever made and has had a significant influence on horror films since. It was also selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

  • On this day in history

      Batman
           Begins

    screenplay by

    • Christopher Nolan
    • David S. Goyer

    Batman Begins -

    Director Christopher Nolan co-wrote "Batman Begins" with screenwriter David S. Goyer, knowing full-well they were up against challenging circumstances following two "Batman" box office flops the decade prior. But their vision of Batman and Bruce Wayne's origin story was different, darker, and more realistic, and made audiences feel for both character identities. Their story and the superstar cast were hits, spawning "The Dark Knight" and "The Dark Knight Rises," and reinvigorating the superhero genre.   

  • On this day in history

    Roger
    Ebert

    • Born 78 Years Ago

    Roger Ebert -

    Film Critic Roger Ebert would have been 78 today. Ebert is best known for co-hosting "At the Movies with Gene Siskel & Roger Ebert," and coining the term "two thumbs up," but he was also a journalist and screenwriter, penning scripts for "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," "Up!" (1976), and "Who Killed Bambi?" He began his career as a film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times and won a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. He continued to write for the Sun-Times until he passed away in 2013.

  • On this day in history

        Robert
       Rodriguez

    • Happy birthday!

    Robert Rodriguez -

    Happy birthday to filmmaker Robert Rodriguez! Rodriguez is best known for the "Mexico Trilogy," which includes his films "El Mariachi," "Desperado," and "Once Upon a Time in Mexico." He often works alongside Quentin Tarantino, whom many consider to be one of Rodriguez's best friends. He's usually the writer, producer, and director on his films, and he's also been known to act as the composer, production designer, sound editor, camera operator and more, earning the title of "one-man film crew."

  • On this day in history

                Who Framed
    Roger
    Rabbit

    screenplay by

    • Jeffrey Price
    • Peter S. Seaman

    Who Framed Roger Rabbit -

    Walt Disney Productions bought the rights to the book "Who Censored Roger Rabbit" by Gary K. Wolf and hired Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman to write the screenplay. The writers leaned heavily on 1940s storylines and were inspired by the Golden Age of American animation in both Walt Disney and Warner Brothers cartoons. While Warner Brothers was not involved in the production, it did grant permission to Walt Disney Studios to use some of its characters in the film, including Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny, as long as they got equal billing in the scene to the Disney characters. The film made history because of its innovative mix of live-action and animation and is credited with leading Disney into its renaissance.

  • On this day in history

    Alien

    screenplay by

    • Dan O'Bannon
    • Ronald Shusett

    Alien -

    Though Dan O'Bannon has sole screenwriting credit on "Alien," Ronald Shusett has story credit, and David Giler and Walter Hill wrote the final shooting script. The movie is considered one of the best science-fiction horror films of all time, and many believe the screenplay to be an excellent example of why simple is better in a script. O'Bannon had the idea for the story early on in his life while he was in film school, but it got better with time and with Shusett's help, as the pair pulled inspiration from several sci-fi stories to complete their own. O'Bannon has famously said that he didn't steal the story idea from anyone, "I stole it from everybody!"

  • On this day in history

                         The
      Lion King

    screenplay by

    • Irene Mecchi
    • Jonathan Roberts
    • Linda Woolverton

    The Lion King -

    "The Lion King" debuted on this day in history in 1994, during a time that was known as the Disney Renaissance when Disney was making movies based on well-known stories and experiencing huge box office successes. Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts, and Linda Woolverton wrote the script based on a film treatment by Thomas Disch. Linda Woolverton spent a year writing drafts of the script on her own, and in her original versions, Scar was the leader of the baboons, and Rafiki was a cheetah. It was Disney's first attempt at an animated feature that was an original story and not based on existing work, and it was a huge success. "The Lion King" was the highest-grossing movie that year.

  • On this day in history

       The Thing

    screenplay by

    • Bill Lancaster
    • John W. Campbell, Jr.

    The Thing -

    Bill Lancaster wrote the final script for "The Thing," based on the novella by John W. Campbell, Jr., "Who Goes There." The movie didn't have an easy path to the theater, nor did it have an easy time when it finally made it there. Many screenwriters wrote many drafts for the film before director John Carpenter was attached. Carpenter, a talented screenwriter himself, didn't want to write the script, so Lancaster was ultimately hired to write it, chosen for his intention to stick closely to the novella. Things started well, but Lancaster reportedly struggled with the second act, and so the writing process dragged on for months. In the end, he wrote four drafts of the screenplay before production began. Critics hated the movie back then, but it's since become a cult favorite and is considered another one of the sci-fi horror greats.

  • On this day in history

    Paul Thomas
      Anderson

    • Happy birthday!

    Paul Thomas Anderson -

    Happy birthday, Paul Thomas Anderson! The filmmaker turns 50 years old today. We have PTA to thank for "Boogie Nights," "Magnolia," "Punch-Drunk Love," and "There Will Be Blood," which he wrote and directed. The auteur is known for his often desperate characters, his use of repetition, bold visuals, and an always-moving camera. What are your favorite PTA films?

  • On this day in history

    Mel
       Brooks

    • Happy birthday!

    Mel Brooks -

    Happy 94th birthday to Mel Brooks! Brooks has done it all during his accomplished career in entertainment, including acting, producing, directing, writing, and composing. He specializes in comedy, helping to write the late 60s comedy series "Get Smart," and he later became one of the most successful filmmakers of the 70s for movies like "The Producers," "Blazing Saddles," "Young Frankenstein," and "Spaceballs." He's also on the limited list of creatives who are EGOT winners, meaning they've won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award.

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