The Black List reveals the best unproduced scripts of 2015

A script telling the story of Bubbles - Michael Jackson's chimp - topped the list

Jack Shepherd
Tuesday 15 December 2015 11:54
Michael Jackson's chimp Bubbles
Michael Jackson's chimp Bubbles

Every year, Hollywood executives vote on the best-unproduced screenplays that have passed through in the past year.

This year’s Black List was compiled of 81 scripts, with stars including Channing Tatum, Lily James and director Ava DuVernay revealing each script’s score, based on how many executives for them.

Previously, scripts such as The Revenant, Spotlight and The Kings Speech have all come from the Black List, so you could be looking at some Oscar-winning scripts below.

Topping the scoreboard is the slightly bizarre story Bubbles, about the baby chimp adopted by Michael Jackson. The story would be narrated by Bubbles as he details life within Jackson’s inner circle, including the scandals that lead to his release.

Other standout scripts include Cut and Run, about how a “female urologist and a retired hooker form an unlikely friendship when they team up to take down a notorious sex trafficker in Miami”.

An adaptation of Randall Sullivan’s Labyrinth - about the investigation of Tupac Shakur and Notorious BIG’s murders - also made the list, as did the incredibly dull sounds Untitled Larry Hillblom Project, about “the strange-yet-true story of the battle over the estate of Larry Lee Hillblom”.

The Black List has been compiled every year since 2005. Here’s the 2015 list in full including name, writer, score and description, courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter.

BUBBLES by Isaac Adamson — 44

A baby chimp is adopted by pop star Michael Jackson. Narrating his own story, Bubbles the Chimp details his life within The King of Pop’s inner circle through the scandals that later rocked Jackson’s life and eventually led to Bubbles’ release.

STRONGER by John Pollono — 40

The true story of Jeff Bauman, who after losing his legs in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing was an integral part of helping police to locate the suspects.

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ROCKET* by Jeffrey Gelber, Ryan Belenzon — 37

Roger “The Rocket” Clemens, one of the greatest pitchers of all time, has 4,672 strikeouts, 354 wins and a record seven Cy Young awards. This is the story of why he is not in the Hall of Fame.

THE LIBERTINE by Ben Kopit — 37

After the head of the French National Assembly is placed under house arrest for accusations of sexual assault, he must live in a guarded apartment with his estranged wife until the case comes to a close.

CRATER by John J. Griffin — 34

On the moon, five teens take an unauthorized and adventure-filled road trip just before one of them is to be sent away on a 75-year journey to another planet, leaving behind his best friends.

MISS SLOANE by Jonathan "Jonny" Perera — 31

A powerful lobbyist sacrifices her career on Capitol Hill so she can push through an amendment enforcing stricter federal laws regulating guns.

TRUE FAN by John Whittington — 28

After interfering with a foul ball during a Chicago Cubs playoff game, Steve Bartman was tortured and stalked by diehard Cub fans for potentially costing them their first National League pennant since 1945. Years later, in a new town with a new identity — but depressed, overweight and working a dead end job — he meets a woman who gives him a new lease on life and reason to live.

PALE BLUE DOT by Brian C Brown, Elliot DiGuisseppi — 26

Twelve months after returning from a space mission, decorated astronaut Laura Pepper is arrested for the attempted murder of a fellow astronaut.

REAGAN by Mike Rosolio — 25

When Ronald Reagan falls into dementia at the start of his second term, an ambitious intern is tasked with convincing the commander-in-chief that he is an actor playing the president in a movie.

BUMP by Ori Guendelman, Rob McClelland — 21

After an accidental hit-and-run, a young lawyer's entire life unravels over the span of one night as he attempts to dispose of a corpse that turns out to be much more than an innocent victim.

ELI by David Chirchirillo — 21

Having moved into a "clean house" to treat his auto-immune disorder, 11-year-old Eli begins to believe that the house is haunted. Unable to leave, he soon realizes that the house, and the doctor who runs it, are more sinister than they appear.

SEPTILLION TO ONE by Adam Perlman, Graham Sack — 20

A former FBI agent, working in the fraud unit of the Texas State Lottery investigating a woman who has mysteriously hit the lottery jackpot three times, falls in love.

WHITE BOY RICK by Logan Miller, Noah Miller — 20

The true story of Richard Wershe Jr., the only successful white-boy gangster/drug kingpin in an African-American-dominated 1980s Detroit ghetto.

BOOMTOWN by Matt King — 18

A slick corporate investigator with a closely guarded secret discovers a sinister criminal conspiracy in North Dakota oil-boom country.

DREAMLAND by Nicolaas Zwart — 18

With his family's farm on the precipice of foreclosure, 15-year-old Eugene Evans is determined to capture a fugitive bank robber and collect the bounty on her head. Against all odds, he beats out the FBI and the local police to capture her, only to discover that all may not be what it seems.

THE FISHERMAN by Will Dunn — 18

A fisherman sails out of Martha’s Vineyard in search of the shark that killed his fellow sailors while they were stranded in the water for four days after their ship was attacked by a Japanese submarine.

THE WATER MAN by Emma Needell — 18

A young boy tries to save his mother from terminal cancer by seeking out the town’s bogeyman, The Water Man, who is fabled to have conquered death.

ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD by David Scarpa — 17

The story of the Getty kidnapping crisis encompassing the Red Brigades, the Italian tabloids and the Vatican.

BOY by Mattson Tomlin — 17

A teenage boy is born with special abilities and spends his childhood switching names and cities so as to keep his identity hidden. When he loses control and accidentally kills his father, he and his mother have to go on the run.

THE SHAVE by Thomas White, Miles Hubley -— 17

A dirty cop, exonerated in the murder of a high-school honor student, visits the boy's father at his barbershop, and while receiving a straight-razor shave, listens to him recount the story of his son’s life.

DO NO HARM by Julia Cox — 16

An ambitious surgeon's life takes a dangerous turn when she indulges in an affair with a doctor whose god complex challenges her own.

HAMMERSPACE by Mike Van Waes — 16

A terminally ill teenager looking for answers about his missing father finds a key that unlocks an opening to an alternate animated dimension and a new friend who helps him repair his broken family.

THE WRETCHED EMILY DERRINGER by Chris Thomas Devlin — 16

Gleefully terrifying her small town as a serial killer known as "The Misfit Butcher," 13-year-old Emily Derringer becomes annoyed when a new killer comes to town and residents begin attributing his sloppy murders to her. In a macabre coming-of-age story, Emily must deal with her competition while also taking on the other trials and tribulations of junior high school life.


A local Phoenix newscaster at the pinnacle of local celebrity slowly descends into the depths of madness as he sees his world around him start to crumble piece by piece, all while trying to become a game-show host in Los Angeles.

THE VIRGINIAN by Michael Russell Gunn — 15

Based on the novel by Owen Wister, a young, down-and-out George Washington, desperate to join the British Army, accepts a dangerous mission to conquer a French fort and save the American colonies.

CASTLE DRIVE by Matthew Scott Weiner — 14

Based on real events, the story of the writing of Fatal Vision, the 1983 bestselling true-crime classic that chronicles the summer journalist Joe McGinness spent with “Green Beret Killer” Jeffrey McDonald while he was on trial for the brutal murder of his wife and children.

CUT AND RUN by Zoe McCarthy — 14

A female urologist and a retired hooker form an unlikely friendship when they team up to take down a notorious sex trafficker in Miami.

MAYDAY 109 by Samuel V. Franco, Evan Kilgore — 13

Based on actual events, a young John F. Kennedy struggles to save the crew of his PT Boat after it is sunk by a Japanese warship during World War II.

MORNINGSTAR by David Birke — 13

The war is over. A bitter and uneasy truce has been reached with an invading alien race, and a new Cold War has begun. Fueled by suspicions of an alien spy in their ranks, the United Nations Intelligence Division entrusts their top agent, Martin Webber, with finding the mole.

MOVE THAT BODY by Lucia Aniello, Paul W Downs — 13

Five friends rent a beach house in Miami for a bachelorette weekend and accidentally kill a male stripper.

NYAD by Robert Specland — 13

Based on the true story of marathon swimmer Diana Nyad, who in 2013, after four failed attempts and at the age of 64, became the first person ever to open-swim from Cuba to Florida (55 hours non-stop), overcoming impossible odds, personal tragedy and 103 miles of open ocean.

QUEEN OF THE AIR by Cat Vasko — 13

The story of famed trapeze artist Lillian Leitzel and her relationship with fellow trapeze artist Alfredo Codona, who were two of the most famous entertainers of the world during their time. Based on the book Queen of the Air written by Dean N. Jensen.

SPRING OFFENSIVE by Matthew McInerney-Lacombe — 13

Dr. Liz Scott, a British epidemiologist with the World Health Organization, fights to contain an outbreak of Ebola in Afghanistan's war-torn Helmand province as the Taliban's assault on allied forces threatens to turn the localized outbreak into a global catastrophe.

THE BURNING WOMAN by Brad Ingelsby — 13

A reckless, fun-loving young woman confronts the dark side of life after losing her daughter.

BLACKFRIARS by Chris Bremner — 12

Set around the Blackfriars massacre of 1978, the true story of a Boston police officer and a con man-turned-witness who become unlikely friends hiding out in Bermuda, ultimately perpetrating a con on the Boston DA they're tasked to serve.

CIRCLE OF TREASON by Anna Waterhouse, Joe Shrapnel — 12

When two women in the CIA suspect there is a mole working there, they have to overcome the institution’s hierarchy and chauvinism to bring down the traitor. Based on the book Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed, written by Sandra Grimes & Jeanne Vertefeuille.

STAR ONE by David Coggeshall — 12

Two CIA agents must overcome their opposing worldviews to evade the Soviet and Chinese armies during a dangerous mission to Tibet in 1950. The true story of the first CIA agent ever to die in the line of duty; the "first star" on the CIA Memorial Wall.

THE SET UP by Kari Granlund — 12

Two co-dependent female best friends' friendship is put through the wringer after a blind date gone awry sends them on a dangerous, all-in-one-night adventure with a drug dealer.

BARE KNUCKLE by Dave Matillo — 11

New York City 1862: The bare-knuckle boxing champion, Bad Jack, develops a crush on a common French girl and uses his political influence to send her Irish lumberman husband off to the Civil War so he can take her for his own. Unfortunately for Bad Jack, the Irishman doesn’t die in the war and comes back a killer looking to exact revenge on the pugilist and his entire corrupt entourage.

CHAPPAQUIDDICK by Taylor Allen, Andrew Logan — 11

A historically factual look at what really happened when Ted Kennedy drove off the road into a Martha’s Vineyard bay with Mary Jo Kopechne in the car.

GREAT FALLS by Andy Friedhof — 11

After negligently killing a hunter with their patrol car, an alcoholic Sheriff’s Deputy and her superior officer must decide what to do with the only witness to their crime — a death-row inmate only days from execution.

HUNTING EICHMANN by Matthew Orton — 11

The thrilling capture of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann by a secret Mossad team in South America.

A SPECK IN THE SEA by Jeff Pope — 10

The true story of the rescue of lobster fisherman John Aldridge, who fell into the ocean in the middle of the night 40 miles off Montauk with no life vest and no way to signal where he was. Based on the article "A Speck in the Sea" by Paul Tough.


In one of the greatest untold stories in American history, General and future President Andrew Jackson reluctantly partners with world-renowned pirate Jean Lafitte to lead a rag-tag team of soldiers against the indomitable British Army in the climactic battle of the War of 1812

CRIMSON TRAIL by Jeremy Shipp — 10

Devastated by the cold-blooded murder of his family, a devout frontier preacher risks his soul to lead a posse in pursuit of the Harpe Brothers — America’s first serial killers. Based on a true story.

LABYRINTH by Christian Contreras — 10

The story of the investigation into the murders of Tupac Shakur and Notorious BIG. Based on the book LAbyrinth by Randall Sullivan.

OUR WEEK WITH WALLER by Evan Mirzai, Shea Mirzai — 10

After getting laid off, two Americans cash in their vacation pay and head to Spain, where their paths collide with one of the world's most dangerous terrorists.

SET IT UP by Katie Silberman — 10

Two young assistants realize they can get more free time if they occupy their bosses' time by setting them up on a date.

UNTITLED SOCIOPATH PROJECT by Topher Rhys-Lawrence — 10

A successful New Yorker's seemingly perfect life starts unraveling once he's suspected for the murder of his co-worker, and his only alibi is the doppelganger that's begun stalking him.

ARES by Geneva Robertson-Dworet — 9

The survival story of an astronaut whose space capsule crash-lands in the African desert and whose mission to space was part of a larger conspiracy.

FINAL JOURNEY by Michael Lee Barlin — 9

A mistreated elderly Inuit woman is forced out of her village to survive alone on the savage arctic tundra.

MILITIA by Henry Dunham — 9

After a shooting at a police funeral by a suspected militia member, a recluse ex-cop and fellow militiaman must interrogate the suspected gunmen in his own militia before copycat attacks start a nationwide war between cops and militias.

SALEM by Mark Bianculli, Jeff Richard — 9

Fifteen years after the witch trials, the scars of Salem are reopened when young women begin showing up dead. Desperate for answers, the town elders turn to a man of science to uncover the truth behind its terrifying events plaguing their community.

TOMORROW ON THE RUNWAY by Frederick Seton — 9

Kermit St. Lucy has a ridiculous name and is ridiculously ill-equipped to deal with adult responsibilities. After a tragedy shakes him to his core, Kermit takes it upon himself to look after and raise two young children.

TREASURE ISLAND by James Coyne — 9

Young Jim Hawkins finds a map to a buried fortune — to claim it means a perilous voyage, pirate treachery and the wicked mentorship of Long John Silver. Based on the Robert Louis Stevenson classic.


The strange-yet-true story of the battle over the estate of Larry Lee Hillblom, billionaire founder of DHL.

A LIFE FANTASTIC by Natalie Antoci — 8

A single mother with a terminal diagnosis embarks on a road trip with her eccentric 9-year-old son and nanny to find a loving and progressive family that will accept him for whoever he may grow up to be.

AN AFRICAN WESTERN by Chloe Castellon, Ridgeway Wilson — 8

When a young African woman’s village is destroyed by a “Christian” paramilitary unit and her sister is kidnapped, she uses every weapon at her disposal on an odyssey to save her last living relative.

ATLANTIC WALL by Zach Dean — 8

A lone American paratrooper, stranded behind enemy lines hours before D-Day, is tasked with delivering intelligence critical to the outcome of the war and compelled to fulfill a promise to protect the young son of a murdered ally.

BED REST by Lori Evans Taylor — 8

An expectant mother who is confined to bed rest starts to experience paranormal events.

I BELIEVE IN AMERICA by Terry Clyne — 8

A behind-the-scenes look at the making of The Godfather,, revealing that the creative forces behind one of the finest American films ever made were all as cunning and ruthless as the mobsters portrayed in Mario Puzo's bestseller.

IDA TARBELL by Mark McDevitt — 8

Ida Tarbell's magazine series "The History of the Standard Oil Company" not only changed the history of journalism but also the fate of Rockefeller's empire, which was shaken by the powerful pen of its most implacable observer.

LOU by Maggie McGowan Cohn — 8

An elderly woman who hacks out a rough existence on a remote island is forced to help her dimwitted neighbor rescue her daughter, whose ex has kidnapped her and escaped into the woods.

PRECONCEPTION by Jake Morse, Scott Wolman — 8

A couple on the verge of parenthood embarks on a pre-baby bucket list.

SENIOR YEAR by Andrew Knauer, Arthur Pielli — 8

A cheerleader wakes up after a 20-year coma and returns to sit at the cool table and try to become prom queen as a 37-year-old woman.

VERONA by Neil Widener, Gavin James — 8

A re-imagining of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

105 AND RISING by Andrew Cypiot — 7

Amid the chaos of a falling nation on April 29, 1975, the objective was clear: Safely evacuate all remaining Americans from Saigon. But to Major Jim Kean and Ambassador Graham Martin, the moment represented something else — the final opportunity to uphold promises and obligations to the people of South Vietnam.

FREE AGENT by Sam Regnier — 7

A female NBA executive for the Golden State Warriors pursues the biggest free agent of her career while managing a messy divorce and a complicated relationship with a younger colleague and his teenage sister.

HOMEGROWN by Jacques Edeline — 7

A teenage boy, raised in total seclusion and indoctrinated by his enigmatic father, is sent to live with a foster family and enrolled in a public high school when his father is incarcerated, threatening their relationship and causing the boy to question everything he's learned.

THE BOY by Owen Egerton — 7

Sixteen years after stabbing a classmate to appease a legendary phantom known as The Boy, a repentant woman returns to her hometown to live with her sister and nephew. But as he continues to haunt her, she must face her deepest terror and discover the truth about The Boy before he claims her nephew.

CARNIVAL by Matias Caruso — 6

A deadly carnival knife-thrower hunts down the members of a powerful crime syndicate who murdered his sister.

CROOK COUNTY by Gita Pullapilly, Aron Gaudet — 6

A whistleblower’s harrowing journey into an undercover FBI operation in 1980s Cook County, Ill., sending him toe-to-toe with corrupt judges, hustling defense attorneys and Chicago mobsters and ultimately resulting in the largest number of convictions of government officials in the history of the U.S.

DAMSEL by Bryan McMullin — 6

After first being locked in a tower and then hidden deep in the forest to prevent a prince from rescuing her, long-haired Rapunzel vows to get revenge.


Facing financial ruin, auteur filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola is forced to direct the adaptation of Mario Puzo's pulp novel The Godfather, pitting him against legendary mega-producer Robert Evans.

GREEN RIVER KILLER by Michael Sheen — 6

Detectives in the Green River Killer case attempt to unravel both the facts behind the gruesome murders that plagued the Pacific Northwest for over a decade and the psychosis of the killer they find themselves face to face with. Based on the Eisner Award-winning graphic novel of the same name.

LANDSLIDE by Will Staples, Tony Camerino — 6

The story of America’s search for terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the man who played a key role in tracking him down by using psychological warfare. Based on the book How to Break a Terrorist by Tony Camerino.

RESURFACE by Pete Bridges — 6

An underwater earthquake decimates a research crew working at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, leaving two survivors with limited resources to ascend 35,000 feet and reach the surface before their life support runs out.

SONGS OF TREBLINKA by Viorica Blan — 6

A renowned Jewish conductor plots a revolt with fellow prisoners as he attracts the respect of his Nazi captors in one of the Third Reich's most notorious WWII death camps. Based on a true story.

THE CANYON by Alex Koplow — 6

When parents reunite with their grown children for a road trip to hike the Grand Canyon, the family conflicts on the way prove far more grueling than the 20-mile hike.

THREE MONTHS by Jared Frieder — 6

After being exposed to HIV the weekend of his high-school graduation in 2011, a punk gay teenager from Miami attempts to start a new relationship with someone from his support group as they try to endure the three months it takes to get accurately tested.

WISH UPON by Barbara Marshall — 6

When Claire, a 16-year-old misfit, finds a magic box that promises a chance at the life she has always wanted, she never could have guessed that each wish would demand a deadly payment.

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