Hot Hollywood Trend: Two Scripts, One Movie

Courtesy Everett Collection

Warner Bros. and Universal double-booked writers to take first passes on separate drafts for "Tarzan" and "The Mummy," respectively.

This story first appeared in the Aug. 1 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Are two heads truly better than one? Warner Bros. hired writers Adam Cozad and Craig Brewer to each pen separate scripts for Tarzan, now in preproduction with Alexander Skarsgard and Margot Robbie starring. The studio preferred Cozad's action and structure elements and Brewer's characterization, so it fused both drafts. (Cozad now is working with director David Yates to finalize the film.)

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And Tarzan isn't alone. Universal's The Mummy reboot also had two scribes, Jon Spaihts and Billy Ray, working concurrently before the studio focused on Spaihts' draft. Warners simultaneously is developing a live-action Scooby-Doo reboot, with a script by Randall Green, and an animated theatrical feature. Executives and agents say double hirings are on the rise partly because of the demands of the tentpole era. Dates for movies often are set while projects still are in development, creating urgency to move fast. And with reboots and reimaginings, studios sometimes ask for multiple takes before jigsawing the scripts together.

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"It's not an epidemic, but it's definitely a newer phenomenon," says one studio-based exec. And it's not going away anytime soon. Insiders say that Warners also is using the method for its supersecret DC Comics projects. New Regency is taking the process to the next level on an untitled relationship comedy that would pair Brad Pitt and Sandra Bullock in what is said to be a War of the Roses-like story. Sources say that Regency is on the hunt for one writer to capture the male character's voice and another for the female voice. But in this case, rather than have the writers work competitively, the company is hoping the two will collaborate -- at first, at least.