An annual list of Hollywood's favorite scripts that have not yet been made into movies.
Since 2004, Franklin Leonard, a film development executive, has surveyed other film industry professionals, including producers and financiers, each year to see what screenplays they most enjoyed reading. By 2011, over 300 industry professionals contributed to the survey. Leonard publishes the list, which generates quite a bit of buzz, as it provides a peek into both what films are likely to be snatched up and what the zeitgeist is for new scripts (zombies? vampires? zombie vampires?)
Movies large and small make the list: Easy A, 50/50, Juno, Looper, Oz, the Great and Powerful, and Django Unchained have appeared on the list. Leonard notes that Academy award winners Slumdog Millionaire, The King's Speech, and The Social Network appeared on the list before being made. (Since the definition of "unproduced" means only that principal photography has not yet begun, some of the films that make the list are not spec scripts but already greenlighted (notable examples being The Hunger Games and Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter).
Appearing on the list is no guarantee that the script will ever get picked up, but the buzz from appearing on it can boost writers' careers. Jim Nash and Nat Faxon made the list in 2007 with a coming of age comedy, The Way, Way Back, which despite being ranked #10, was not picked up. But director Alexander Payne was impressed enough with their work on that script that he hired them to adapt Kaui Hart Hemmings' novel The Descendants for the screen (Once Nash and Faxon won an Academy Award for that adaptation, suddenly The Way, Way Back was greenlighted).
Leonard has now expanded The Black List to include a subscription-based service to match up aspiring screenwriters with agents and studios eager to find new material.
The Black List
Tim Molloy, "How Jim Rash Went from Improv to ‘Community’ to a ‘Descendants’ Oscar Nomination," Reuters, February 5, 2012, http://xfinity.comcast.net/blogs/tv/2012/02/17/how-jim-rash-went-from-improv-to-community-to-a-descendants-oscar-nomination/ (November 12, 2012)
Sean O'Neal, "Leonardo DiCaprio and Chewbacca top this year's Black List." A.V. Club. December 12, 2011. http://www.avclub.com/articles/leonardo-dicaprio-and-chewbacca-top-this-years-bla,66435/ (November 12, 2012)
Nicole Sperling, "A 'Black List' that's a career boost." Los Angeles Times. December 13, 2011. http://articles.latimes.com/2011/dec/13/entertainment/la-et-black-list-20111213 (November 12, 2012)