November 13 – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

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Meet on the Fox Studios backlot on November 13th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI.

Logline: In this darkly comic drama, a mother personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter’s murder when they fail to catch the culprit.

Screenwriters: British filmmaker MARTIN McDONAGH began his career as a playwright, winning the Drama Desk Award for The Beauty Queen of Leenane in 1998, three Laurence Olivier awards, and four Tony Award nominations. His first film, a short called Six Shooter, won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short in 2004. He followed that up with 2008’s highly acclaimed In Bruges, which won the BAFTA award for Best Original Screenplay and was nominated for an Oscar in the same category and a Golden Globe for Best Picture (Musical or Comedy). In 2012 the writer-producer-director released Seven Psychopaths starring Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, and Christopher Walken.

Three Billboards stars Frances McDormand (Fargo, Blood Simple), Woody Harrelson (Cheers, True Crime, The People vs. Larry Flynt), Sam Rockwell (Moon, Matchstick Men), John Hawkes (Deadwood, Winter’s Bone), Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones, The Station Agent), Abbie Cornish (Sucker Punch, RoboCop), Caleb Landry Jones (X-Men First Class, Get Out), and Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea).

Producers and Production Companies: Writer-director McDonagh produced alongside Pete Czernin and Graham Broadbent of UK production company Blueprint Pictures (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel). Blueprint’s development executive Ben Knight co-produced.

Film Festivals: Three Billboards premiered in competition at the Venice International Film Festival on September 4th where it won the Golden Osello for Best Screenplay. It also won the Toronto International Film Festival’s People’s Choice Award, an award some consider to be the “starting gun” of the Oscar race. The film has played at, or is scheduled to be screened at, major festivals in Zurich, Hamburg, Hamptons, San Diego, Mill Valley, London, Chicago, Twin Cities, Philadelphia, and Austin.

Release Date: Opens in limited release on November 10 (Fox Searchlight). If you plan to see the movie before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised.

Rated R. 115 minutes. 103 pages. Dark Comedy.

Jeff KitchenJEFF KITCHEN will provide in-depth scrip analysis and lead our discussion. Jeff is a sought-after script doctor and working writer who has taught screenwriting professionally since 1989. He is the author of Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting, and has trained development executives from all the major studios who have consistently said that he teaches “the most advanced development tools in the film industry.” Creative Screenwriting listed him as one of the top five screenwriting teachers working today. Visit his website DevelopmentHeaven.com.

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October 9 – Suburbicon

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, October 6)

Meet on the Fox Studios backlot on October 9th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay SUBURBICON.

Logline: Violence, murder, and mayhem come to the quintessential peaceful suburban town.

Screenwriters: JOEL and ETHAN COEN wrote the first draft of Suburbicon in 1986, shortly after the release of their first film, Blood Simple. The Coen Brothers went on to release a string of cult classics, including Raising Arizona, The Hudsucker Proxy, Fargo (for which they won their first Academy Award, for Best Original Screenplay), The Big Lebowski, and No Country For Old Men, which earned the brothers three more Oscars. The scribes returned to Suburbicon for another draft in 2006, twenty years after they’d written their first draft. GEORGE CLOONEY, who has starred in four Coen Bros. movies (O Brother Where Art Thou, Intolerable Cruelty, Burn After Reading, and last year’s Hail, Caesar!), recently asked the team if he could direct the still-back-burnered Suburbicon. Clooney and his writing partner GRANT HESLOV, who share two Oscar nominations for their screenplays for Good Night, and Good Luck and The Ides of March, are said to have brought a fresh angle to the long-gestating project. (We will be reading the Coens’ 2007 draft.)

Suburbicon stars Matt Damon (Bourne franchise, Ocean’s trilogy, The Martian), Julianne Moore (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, The Big Lebowski), and Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ex Machina, Inside Llewyn Davis).

Producers and Production Companies: Credited producers include writers Clooney and Heslov for their Smokehouse Pictures banner, along with Teddy Schwarzman for Black Bear Pictures (Gold, The Imitation Game), and co-producer David Webb (previously an associate or co-producer and 1st AD for Ben Affleck’s Live by Night and Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter and Clooney’s 1st AD on Good Night, and Good Luck, among many other AD credits).  Joel Silver, of Silver Pictures and Dark Castle Entertainment, is among the film’s executive producers. His 100+ producing credits include the Matrix trilogy, the first two Die Hard movies, and Xanadu.

Release Date: October 27 (Paramount). The film premiered September 2 at the Venice International Film Festival and is also on the lineup for this month’s Toronto International Film Festival.

Rated R. 104 minutes. 113 pages. Dark Comedy, Crime, Thriller, Mystery.

Diana LesmezDIANA LESMEZ will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Currently an independent writer, producer, and director for her company, The StoryMaker Entertainment, Diana’s screenwriting has placed her as a finalist in the Walt Disney Fellowship Program, Broad Humor Film Festival, and Slamdance Screenwriting Competition. Her vast background in the entertainment industry includes developing film projects for Atlantic Streamline (Igby Goes Down) and Patriot Pictures (Air Force One) and she has taught at the New York Film Academy and the Los Angeles Film School. Diana also offers pitching, producing, distribution, and marketing consulting services through her Bumptious Media Consulting banner. Follow her on Twitter (@DianaLesmez).

August 14 – The Only Living Boy in New York

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Meet on the Fox Studios backlot on August 14th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay THE ONLY LIVING BOY IN NEW YORK.

Logline: Adrift in New York City, a recent college graduate’s life is upended by his father’s mistress.

Screenwriter: After a twelve-year struggle to get noticed in Hollywood, screenwriter ALLAN LOEB finally broke through in 2005 when two of his spec scripts landed in the top four of the industry’s inaugural Black List, leading to sales of six projects in a single year. The first to make it to the cinema was 2007’s Things We Lost in the Fire starring Halle Berry. Subsequent writing credits include 21 (the fictionalized true story of a card-counting ring from MIT), Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, The Switch (starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman), The Dilemma (directed by Ron Howard), and the musical Rock of Ages. Earlier this year Loeb shared a writing credit on the sci-fi romantic drama The Space Between Us, and just two months before that his original screenplay Collateral Beauty hit the screen with Will Smith in the lead. Along with Things We Lost…, The Only Living Boy in New York was Loeb’s other script on the 2005 Black List.

Named after the 1970 Simon & Garfunkel song, The Only Living Boy in New York is Loeb’s “version of my favorite movie, The Graduate, with kind of a Manhattan love-letter to New York flourish to it,” according to a 2012 interview with the scribe. Directed by Marc Webb ((500) Days of Summer, The Amazing Spider-Man), the film stars Callum Turner (Queen and Country), Kate Beckinsale (Pearl Harbor), Pierce Brosnan (Die Another Day), Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City), Kiersey Clemons (Justice League), and Jeff Bridges (True Grit, The Big Lebowski).

Producers and Production Companies: Ron Yerxa and Albert Berger, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture for Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, produced The Only Living Boy… through their Bona Fide Productions. Previously, the pair had produced Payne’s Election, Loeb’s The Switch, and the Oscar winning Little Miss Sunshine. They have a first-look deal with Amazon Studios (Manchester by the Sea), who financed the picture. John Fogel also produced. This is his first credit.

Release Date: August 11 (Roadside Attractions)

Rated R. 88 minutes. 105 pages. Drama.

Brian HerskowitzBRIAN HERSKOWITZ will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Brian currently holds the title of lead faculty in screenwriting for the prestigious Boston University in Los Angeles – Writer In Hollywood Program, has taught online for UCLA Extension, and spent five years as the sitcom instructor for Writer’s Bootcamp. He has written for such TV shows as Blossom, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Acapulco Heat, Dream On, Renegade, and Murder, She Wrote. and in 2014 released he released the book Process to Product: From Concept to Script: A Practical Guide for the Screenwriter. His feature screenwriting credits include the horror/thriller Darkroom and the family comedy Tio Papi. Also a talented actor, producer, and director, Brian made the award-winning short film Odessa or Bust starring Jason Alexander, Red Buttons, and Jason Schwartzman, and the domestic abuse documentary 1736: Somewhere To Turn. Find out more about Brian and his projects at brianherskowitz.com.

July 10 – Dunkirk

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, July 7)

Meet on the Fox Studios backlot on July 10th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay DUNKIRK.

Logline: WWII Allied forces mount a mission to rescue 400,000 soldiers surrounded by the enemy after the Battle of Dunkirk.

Screenwriter: Writer-director CHRISTOPHER NOLAN gained acclaim for his second feature, Memento (2000), a noir thriller told in converging timelines as a man with short-term memory loss attempts to hunt down his wife’s killer. His Dark Knight trilogy has grossed more than $2.4 billion worldwide and his screenplays for Memento and Inception have both been nominated for Academy Awards. Dunkirk is his first film since 2014’s Interstellar, and his first film based on true events.

The film, which will be told from three perspectives (air, land, and sea) and will contain as little dialogue as possible, stars Tom Hardy (The Revenant), Kenneth Branagh (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), Cillian Murphy (Scarecrow in the Dark Knight trilogy), Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), and Harry Styles of One Direction in his acting debut.

Producers and Production Companies: As with all his films since Batman Begins, Nolan produced Dunkirk with his wife, Emma Thomas, through their London-based production company Syncopy, which also produced Man of Steel, on which Nolan shares a story credit.

Release Date: July 21 (Warner Bros.)

Rated PG-13. 107 minutes. 130 pages. Historical Drama, War, Action.

DANIEL P. CALVISI will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Dan is a story analyst, speaker, screenwriter, and the author of Story Maps: How to Write a GREAT Screenplay, Story Maps: TV Drama, Story Maps: 12 Great Screenplays, and Story Maps: The Films of Christopher Nolan. He is a former Story Analyst for major studios like 20th Century Fox, Miramax, and New Line Cinema. He coaches writers, teaches webinars on writing for film and television with The Writers Store, and speaks at writing conferences and book signings. He lives in Los Angeles and holds a degree in Film and Television from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. To learn more about Story Maps and how you can work with Dan, visit ActFourScreenplays.com.

June 12 – The Mummy

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, June 9)

Meet on the Fox Studios backlot on June 12th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay THE MUMMY.

Logline: An ancient princess is awakened from her crypt beneath the desert, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia and terrors that defy human comprehension.

Screenwriters: JON SPAIHTS first gained industry attention when his sci-fi spec script Passengers found a spot on the 2007 Black List. Produced nine years later with Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt in the lead roles, the film was released in December of last year, making over $300 million. Before that, Spaihts had writing credits on Ridley Scott’s first Alien prequel, Prometheus (2012), and Marvel’s Doctor Strange, released a month before Passengers. The two franchise films made over $400 million and $600 million, respectively. We will be reading Sphait’s 7/11/13 draft of The Mummy. On the finished film, he shares a writing credit with CHRISTOPHER MCQUARRIE, who won an Academy Award in 1996 for his second produced feature screenplay, The Usual Suspects. The Mummy reboot marks his fifth outing with Tom Cruise, having also written the scripts for Valkyrie (2008) and Edge of Tomorrow (2014), and written and directed Jack Reacher (2012) and Mission: Impossible–Rogue Nation (2015).

Directed by Alex Kurtzman, co-writer of such hits as Transformers, Mission: Impossible III, and Star Trek, The Mummy launches the new Universal Monsters shared universe series of films that is expected to include re-imaginings of Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, and The Invisible Man, among others. In addition to Cruise, The Mummy stars Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service) in the title role, Annabelle Wallis (BBC’s Peaky Blinders), Jake Johnson (New Girl), Courtney B. Vance (The People v. O.J. Simpson), and Academy Award winner Russell Crowe (Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind) as Dr. Jekyll.

Producers and Production Companies: At age 34 in 1985, Sean Daniel became the youngest head of production in the history of Universal Pictures. After leaving the studio, he went on to produce the previous Mummy franchise for them through his company Alphaville Films, and is now producing the reboot franchise under his new banner, The Sean Daniel Company. Chris Morgan, screenwriter of several Fast and the Furious movies, and Kurtzman have been put in charge of development for the entire Universal Monsters shared universe series under Kurtzman’s new Secret Hideout banner, which is also producing the new series Star Trek: Discovery. Kurtzman’s former writing partner, Roberto Orci, also produced The Mummy via K/O Paper Products, the production company he started with Kurtzman.

Release Date: June 9 (Universal Pictures)

Rated PG-13. 120 minutes. 123 pages. Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Horror.

pamelajayesmithPAMELA JAYE SMITH will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. A mythologist and award-winning producer/director with over thirty years experience in features, TV, music videos, and more, Pamela is the author of five books, including The Power of the Dark Side: Creating Great Villains and Inner Drives: How to Write and Create Characters Using the Eight Classic Centers of Motivation. Her company, MYTHWORKS, offers consulting and coaching and, through her Pitch Proxy service, pitches writers’ projects at pitch festivals they cannot attend. Visit pamelajayesmith.com for more information.

May 8 – Snatched

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Meet on the Fox Studios backlot on May 8th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay SNATCHED.

Logline: After her boyfriend dumps her on the eve of their exotic vacation, an impetuous dreamer persuades her ultra-cautious mother to travel with her to paradise, where they are kidnapped and must work through their differences to save themselves.

Writers: KATIE DIPPOLD was a performer for the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and in sketches on Late Night with Conan O’Brien before becoming a television writer for such shows as MADtv and Parks and Recreation. In 2012, Variety named her one of the “10 Screenwriters to Watch.” Her first produced feature screenplay was 2013’s The Heat starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. The action comedy grossed $159 million in the US. Dippold followed this up with the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot, co-written with the film’s director, Paul Feig, who also directed The Heat. Inspired by Dippold’s own relationship with her mother, Snatched is her third feature writing credit. The film’s star, Amy Schumer, is said to have also worked on the script with her sister, Kim Caramele.

Academy Award winner Goldie Hawn stars in Snatched alongside Schumer, returning to the big screen after a fifteen year absence. Directed by Jonathan Levine (50/50Warm Bodies), Snatched also features two-time Oscar nominee Joan Cusack (Shameless), Christopher Meloni (Law & Order: SVU), MADtv‘s Ike Barinholtz (Suicide Squad), Wanda Sykes (The Wanda Sykes Show), and Randall Park (Fresh Off the Boat).

Producers and Production Companies: Paul Feig, the director of Dippold’s first two movies, and Jessie Henderson (The Heat, Spy) produced Snatched through Feigco Entertainment. Oscar-nominated Hidden Figures producers Peter Chernin (Planet of the Apes reboot film series) and Jenno Topping (Charlie’s Angels films) also produced through Chernin’s Fox-based Chernin Entertainment. Henderson was previously an exec at Chernin before moving to Feigco.

Release Date: May 12 (20th Century Fox)

Rated R. 91 minutes. 119 pages. Action, Comedy.

DianeDrake150DIANE DRAKE will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Prior to writing the hit movies Only You (starring Robert Downey Jr. and Marissa Tomei) and What Women Want (starring Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt), Diane served as Vice President of Creative Affairs for Sydney Pollack (Out of Africa, Tootsie), honing her story skills while analyzing hundreds of screenplays to find and develop material for the Oscar-winning producer-director. She has taught through the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and currently offers online courses and workshops at www.dianedrake.com. Her first book, Get Your Story Straight, was released in 2016. Follow her on Twitter (@dianedrake) to find out more.

February 13 – Manchester by the Sea

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Manchester by the SeaMeet on the Fox Studios backlot on February 13th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay MANCHESTER BY THE SEA.

Logline: A troubled janitor must return, permanently, to a town that holds painful memories for him in order to raise his nephew when his brother dies unexpectedly.

KENNETH LONERGAN wrote and directed this original screenplay. After finding success as a playwright, Lonergan broke into screenwriting with the Billy Crystal/Robert De Niro comedy Analyze This (1999). A year later, he received his first Academy Award nomination, for Best Original Screenplay, for You Can Count On Me, his motion picture directorial debut. That script also won WGA and Spirit awards as well as the Sundance Film Festival’s Waldo Salt award for screenwriting. Lonergan earned his second Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination for his contributions to Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York. Manchester by the Sea is Lonergan’s first outing since 2011’s heavily litigated Margaret starring Anna Paquin.

Manchester by the Sea stars Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone), Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain), with Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights), Gretchen Mol (Boardwalk Empire), Tate Donovan (Damages), an appearance by Matthew Broderick (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), and a breakthrough performance by newcomer Lucas Hedges, son of the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of About a Boy, Peter Hedges.

Awards and Nominations: Widely expected to have a strong showing at the Academy Awards, Manchester has so far racked up five Golden Globe nominations, including Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and Best Director, four SAG award nominations, five Independent Spirit Award nominations including Best Feature and Best Screenplay, and a WGA nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

Update: Manchester by the Sea was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actor (Affleck), Best Supporting Actor (Hedges), and Best Supporting Actress (Williams).

The writing has also received accolades from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, Atlanta Film Critics Society, Boston Online Film Critics Association, Alliance of Women Film Journalists, Chicago Film Critics Association, Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association, Hollywood Film Awards, Indiana Film Journalists Association, Indiewire Critics’ Poll, National Board of Review, New York Film Critics Circle, Oklahoma Film Critics Circle, San Francisco Film Critics Circle, Southeastern Film Critics Association, Toronto Film Critics Association, Vancouver Film Critics Circle, and the Village Voice Film Poll, with 20 additional nominations, and the film has appeared on over 50 ten-best lists for 2016.

Producers and Production Companies: Actors Matt Damon and John Krasinski first brought the idea to Lonergan and were both originally going to act in it, with Damon directing. Both actors eventually dropped out of the project due to scheduling conflicts but retained producing credits. Other producers and production companies include Kimberly Steward of K Period Media, Kevin J. Walsh (The Way Way Back) of B Story, and Chris Moore (Project Greenlight) of CMP. Damon’s production company is Pearl Street Films.

Release: Premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Amazon Studios won a bidding war against Sony, Universal, Lionsgate, and Fox Searchlight, paying $10 million for distribution rights, and is co-distributing with Roadside Attractions. The film opened in limited release on November 18, 2016, and reached the top ten at the box office for the weekend of December 9, despite having expanded to only 366 screens. It went wide on December 16 and has grossed over $33 million to date against an estimated $8.5 million budget. If you have not seen it yet and plan to go to the movie before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised.

Rated R. 137 minutes. 112 pages. Drama.

Beverly GrayBEVERLY GRAY will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. As story editor and development executive for Roger Corman’s Concorde-New Horizons Pictures, screenwriter Beverly Gray oversaw the making of 170 low-budget features. More recently, she has covered the entertainment industry for The Hollywood Reporter and currently teaches online screenwriting workshops for UCLA Extension’s Writers’ Program. Beverly has also written books on filmmakers Corman and Ron Howard, as well as the upcoming Seduced by Mrs. Robinson, scheduled for release in November 2017 for the 50th anniversary of The Graduate. Visit her popular Beverly in Movieland blog and follow @Bev_Movieland on Twitter.