The 10 Priciest Screenplays To Ever Hit The Big Screen

Everyone enjoys a good movie. You laugh, you cry… and the suspense keeps you on the edge of your seat. However, when we go to the movies, we only get to see the finished product. We don’t think about how much work and effort goes into creating the next Oscar worthy film. One important detail we rarely take into account is the script. While we are focusing all of our attention on the costumes or the grandeur of the special effects, the dialogue slowly begins to disappear amongst the smoke and mirrors.

The art of screenplay writing can be practiced by any individual who is able to tell a great story and has a vivid imagination. Many dreamers and believers in big cities such as San Francisco, CA or New York, NY can be found hunched over their laptops at cafes, hoping to unleash a spark of genius and become the next big thing in the Hollywood film industry.

With legendary names such as William Goldman and Woody Allen to live up to, screenwriting is not only a tough, but a competitive career as well. Once the screenplay has reached its final draft, it is then ready to be sold, or rather auctioned off and then made into what one in the film industry hopes to be a blockbuster hit. Here are some examples of the most expensive screenplays ever written that were purchased to create a movie.

10 A Knight’s Tale: $2.5 Million

This adventure comedy follows the story of William Thatcher (Heath Ledger), a peasant who disguises his true identity by posing as a knight, along with his companions during medieval times. As a “knight,” Thatcher competes in jousting tournaments and befriends historical figures such as Geoffrey Chaucer and Edward, the Black Prince of Wales. The film’s title is inspired by Chaucer’s story The Knight’s Tale among others included in his book of compiled stories entitled Canterbury Tales. The quirky script sold for 2.5 million. However, the film only made $56 million with an estimated budget of $65 million.

9 Mozart and the Whale: $2.75 Million

Released as Crazy in Love in some parts of Europe, this romantic comedy drama tells the story of two people with Asperger syndrome, which is a form of Autism. Donald (Josh Hartnett), the male lead, runs a self-help group for people with the syndrome who are more affected than he is. A young woman who is also afflicted by Asperger’s, Isabelle (Radha Mitchell), is then referred to the group by her therapist and the two ultimately form a romantic bond. The characters are somewhat based on the real-life relationship of Jerry Newport and Mary Meinel. Unfortunately, the movie was a complete flop, and only earned $36 thousand with a budget of $12 million.

8 The Pink Panther: $3 Million

This remake of the detective comedy and the revival of the Pink Panther franchise marks the tenth installment in the series. Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Steve Martin) is assigned by Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus (Kevin Kline) to solve the murder of a famous soccer coach and the theft of the famous Pink Panther diamond. The character of Clouseau is known to be dubbed as a clumsy and dysfunctional policeman. However, in the end he is given a Medal of Honor for solving the case. The film earned $82 million on a budget of $80 million.

7 Medicine Man: $3 Million

This gripping drama follows the story of biochemist Dr. Rae Crane (Lorraine Bracco), who is ordered into the Amazonian rainforest by a pharmaceutical company to locate researcher Robert Campbell (Sean Connery) after his wife and research partner abandon him. Campbell claims to have found a cure for cancer, however, attempts to synthesize the compound fail. With supplies running low, Campbell isolates a derivative of species of flowers that can be used to synthesize the formula, and is determined to find its source with Crane’s help. The film earned $45 million on a budget of $40 million.

6 Basic Instinct: $3 Million

This erotic thriller focuses on the life of police detective Nick Curran (Michael Douglas), who is investigating the brutal murder of a wealthy rock star. Throughout the investigation, Curran is involved in an intense and torrid relationship with the prime suspect; a beautiful and mysterious woman, Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone). While the original screenplay was thought to be controversial, after the movie was released, it earned $117 million on a budget of $50 million. Despite initial protest and scrutiny, the film proved to be one of the most financially successful films ever made.

5 Eurotrip: $4 Million

This American-European teen adventure comedy follows the character Scott “Scotty” Thomas (Scott Mechlowicz) who travels across Europe in the hopes of finding his beloved female German pen pal, Mieke. His journey takes him from London, Paris, to Amsterdam, Bratislava, Berlin and Rome, as he and his group of friends encounter awkward situations throughout their travels. This wacky screenplay provided what has since a cult film that is a must-see for every teenager. The movie eventually made $17 million on a budget of $25 million.

4 Talladega Nights: $4 Million

This comedy film follows the story of #1 NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) who is always on top of his game, thanks to a pact with his best friend and team-mate, Cal Naughton, Jr (John C. Reilly). However, when his flamboyant French Formula One rival starts to threaten his standing by quickly zooming up the ladder, Ricky Bobby’s talent and devotion are put the test as he fights to regain his dominance and be number one once again. The movie made $150 million on a budget of $72 million.

3 Panic Room: $4 Million

This thriller film focuses on the life of divorcee Meg Altman (Jodie Foster) and her eleven year old daughter Sarah Stewart (Kristen Stewart), who move into a four-story brownstone on the Upper West side of New York City. The previous owner, a reclusive millionaire, installed a room used to protect the house’s occupants from intruders. The room is protected by concrete on all sides, a thick steel door and an extensive security system, which includes multiple video surveillance cameras. The night they move in they are broken into by burglars and Meg makes a move to the room with her daughter so they cannot obtain what is inside. However, what they don’t realize is how far the burglars will go to get their job done. The screenplay was inspired by real news coverage about panic rooms and the movie went on to be a big hit, earning $96 million on a budget of $48 million.

2 The Long Kiss Goodnight: $4 Million

In this action thriller, an ordinary woman by the name of Samantha Caine (Geena Davis), is a typical well-mannered schoolteacher and single mother. Nothing about her life is exciting, or even remarkable. However, she has unexplainable flashbacks and impulses that she can’t seem to control. She displays a deadly talent for knife throwing when she is chopping vegetables for dinner one night, and when she sees a deer in pain following a car accident, she breaks its neck with her bare hands. These newfound skills and uncomfortable memories stir her, and so she hires private investigator Mitch Hennessey (Samuel L. Jackson) to look into her past and see what he can discover. This blockbuster was a complete bust unfortunately, earning only $33 million on a budget of $65 million.

1 Déjà Vu: $5 Million

As the most expensive screenplay in Hollywood History, this action thriller film focuses on a New Orleans maverick ATF agent Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington), who takes part in a top-secret government program to catch the terrorist responsible for a ferry bombing that killed hundreds of people on board. While the government agent and the team of scientists who run the project tell him one thing about the quantum physics behind this marvel of technology, Carlin suspects that there is a greater power, one that not just solves the problem, but could have prevented it. The movie went on to gross $64 million on a budget of $75 million.

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