No. 1 Black List Script 'Draft Day' in Turnaround at Paramount

FILM: Kevin Costner

Kevin Costner (WME, One Talent, Jeffer Mangels) is in talks to star in "McFarland," a track-and-field drama that Niki Caro ("Whale Rider") is directing for Disney.

Kevin Costner is attached to star in the football-themed film, which Ivan Reitman is developing to direct.

Despite nabbing the No. 1 spot on the 2012 Black List of Hollywood's best unproduced screenplays, Rajiv Joseph and Scott Rothman's drama Draft Day recently was put into turnaround by Paramount Pictures, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter. Could the newfound notoriety reverse the studio's decision or lead to a bidding war from other suitors?

Kevin Costner is attached to star in the film project, which takes place on the day of the NFL Draft, when Buffalo Bills general manager Sonny Weaver trades for the No. 1 pick. He must quickly decide what he’s willing to sacrifice in the pursuit of perfection as the lines between his personal and professional life become blurred. Ivan Reitman is developing the project to direct.

A source says the studio decided the movie was unmarketable. Football is considered a uniquely American pastime and enjoys little enthusiasm from foreign audiences. For instance, the 2009 box-office hit The Blind Side made only $53 million of its $309 million tally overseas.

But now that Draft Day -- described as Moneyball-esque in tone -- was unveiled as the list's top pick Monday morning via the Black List's Twitter account, interest in the project could be revived. The screenplay received 65 mentions from the more than 290 Hollywood executives surveyed this year, meaning that if Paramount declines to move forward, several other studios could emerge as bidders for the material.

A Paramount rep did not respond to a request for comment.

The annual Black List is culled from Hollywood executives' opinions about their favorite as-yet-unproduced screenplays. Created in 2005 by Franklin Leonard and Dino Sijamic, it has morphed into one of the most reliable barometers for hot properties. Previous Black List scripts include two of the past four best picture Oscar winners (Slumdog Millionaire and The King's Speech) and five of the past 10 screenplay winners (Juno, Slumdog Millionaire, The Social Network, The King's Speech and The Descendants).

This is the first time that the list was released via Twitter.