The pitch: An oil company lobbyist (Leonardo DiCaprio) is shaken after his girlfriend, a local meteorologist, breaks up with him over reservations of his contribution to global warming. The split is hastened by a massive hurricane thrashing its way toward the east coast of the U.S., which would likely wreak Katrina-like damage from Maine to Myrtle Beach. DiCaprio’s character, feeling guilty, soon discovers that the hurricane’s path will also cross a long-dormant volcano, causing it to erupt and spew so much ash that it eventually swirls into a biological weapon that could mark the end of the world.
Would you greenlight this blockbuster? Would you even consider it?
“So basically you’re pitching me Leo vs. the toxic-superstorm that’ll destroy humanity,” Leonard told the pitch-man. “His response, and I wish I was making this up, was: Well, when you say it like that, it sounds ridiculous.”
Leonard, who spoke recently at Fast Company‘s Most
Creative People Event and was #57
on our list, is best known as the creator the Hollywood Black List, an annual ranking of the year’s best passed-over screenplays. Critically-acclaimed films such as There Will be Blood and Juno were first featured on the list before being made into award-winning movies. But as Leonard explained to audiences, it’s not always easy to “separate the Superstorm’s from the Slumdog Millionaire’s.”
Consider the following pitch:
“A guy walks around with a puppet of a beaver on his hand and treats it like a living creature.”
Would you greenlight this film? Guess what, it’s not only been made but it stars Mel Gibson.
Here’s the rest of Leonard’s amazing talk, which will explain a lot about how movies get made in Hollywood–and how his List is changing the industry.