KNOW YOUR SCREENWRITERS: The Writers of This Summer’s Biggest Blockbusters

by ScreenCraft Staff on July 12, 2014

Can you name all of last year’s Oscar-nominated screenwriters?

Do you know what they’re working on now?

KNOW YOUR SCREENWRITERS is ScreenCraft’s way of helping us all learn who the big players in the industry are -- because how can anyone be a pro screenwriter without knowing who and what’s succeeding in Hollywood today?

Admittedly, following screenwriters is not exactly a piece of cake. Often they are years between projects, padding their pockets with script doctoring and other uncredited assignments of which they are sworn to secrecy.

But we will not be deterred.  

In this 2014 Summer Blockbuster edition of Know Your Screenwriters, we’ll take a look at the screenwriters behind this summer’s biggest action flicks. Enjoy, and be sure to share any additions, etc. in the comments.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely

Markus and McFeely are behind a number of Hollywood tentpoles - including Marvel’s Captain America and Disney’s Chronicles of Narnia. Other credits for the team include Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain and Thor: The Dark World.

Fun Fact: They got their break writing a Peter Sellers biopic that wound up winning an Emmy.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci

*Jeff Pinkner is also credited on the screenplay for The Amazing Spider-Man 2

This is the writing team responsible for launching the Transformers and Star Trek franchises, now attached to the future of the Spider-Man franchise. Also the team behind TV’s Sleepy Hollow and the cult hit Fringe with J.J. Abrams -- they got their start with Abrams on Alias. In their words, “[Abrams] recognized that B-genre with A-treatment is really great”. Now their dark, action-fueled writing has made them two of the most recognizable names in Hollywood screenwriting.

Check out this cool half-hour chat with the writing duo on Hulu:


Max Borenstein

The writer/director penned the script for the infamous monster's reboot and also wrote the comic book on which the film is based -- both produced by Legendary. Based on the film’s success, Borenstein is a name to watch!

Fun Fact: Borenstein is one of the only double-threat writer/directors behind a blockbuster this summer.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Simon Kinberg

The Columbia product rose straight to the top in Hollywood off the success of his thesis script Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Remember that one? Since then he’s been the pilot on the X-Men franchise, as well as the writer behind Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes.

The WGA did an informative interview with Kinberg this summer. Read it here:


Linda Woolverton

A frequent headliner for Disney, Woolverton has been a working writer for nearly three decades, with credits that include Tim Burton’s recent Alice in Wonderland and animated classics like Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King.

“We killed Mufasa in The Lion King. We killed Bambi's mother. The world is an intense place. Storytelling helps children to be strong. Hansel and Gretel is about eating children. Fairy tales have never shied away from that.” -- Linda Woolverton

Edge of Tomorrow

Christopher McQuarrie and Jez & John-Henry Butterworth

McQuarrie won a screenwriting Oscar in 1995 with The Usual Suspects. Since then he has been credited on a number of big action movies both good and bad, from Jack Reacher and Jack the Giant Slayer to The Tourist. McQuarrie is a frequent collaborator  with Tom Cruise and will be directing the superstar in the upcoming Mission: Impossible 5.

“Few filmmakers are as honest in interviews as Christopher McQuarrie…” He talks about his whole career in this article from Empire Magazine:

Jez Butterworth is an award-winning playwright who converted his play Mojo into a film in 1997 to critical acclaim. He frequently collaborates with his brothers on his screenwriting projects - he and his brother John-Henry form the writing team for the upcoming James Brown feature Get On Up.

Transformers: Age of Extinction

Ehren Kruger

Kruger’s screenplay for The Ring in 2002 earned him the payday and regard that eventually resulted in Kurtzman and Orci entrusting him with the Transformer sequels, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Revenge of the Fallen, and now Age of Extinction.

It was recently announced that Kruger will be helming the live-action remake of Disney’s Dumbo:

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver and Mark Bomback

Jaffa and Silver form the husband and wife team behind Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Their upcoming credits are impressive, to say the least: Jurassic World and Avatar 3.

Mark Bomback has been an action mainstay in the 2000s, with screenwriting work on The Wolverine, Total Recall, and Fifty Shades of Grey and stand-alone credit on Live Free or Die Hard and Unstoppable.

Fun Fact: Other notable husband and wife screenwriting teams include Kieran & Michele Mulroney (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) and Lee & Janet Scott Batchler (Batman Forever).


Ryan Condal & Evan Spiliotopoulos

While Condal’s credits are fresh and few, his partner on Brett Ratner’s Hercules - Evan Spiliotopoulos - has worked on a wealth of kid’s themed projects from Tarzan II to Cinderella III and he has the uber action sequel Wanted 2 upcoming.

Check out this interview with Spiliotopoulos on writing Hercules: and follow Condal’s rather humorous Twitter here: @WrathOfCondal.

Guardians of the Galaxy

James Gunn

*Nicole Perlman is also credited as a writer

Writer/Director Gunn got his start working on B-Movies in NYC before joining his three brothers in LA and diving headlong into the screen, where he has penned mostly horror comedies from Scooby Doo to Slither.

Fun Fact: Gunn was married to Jenna Fischer (Pam from The Office!) for eight years.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Josh Appelbaum & Andre Nemec and Evan Daugherty

Appelbaum and Nemec are longtime TV writers, rising to producer status under J.J. Abrams on Alias and going on to co-create other series for ABC, before Abrams pulled them into features to write the screenplay for the hugely successful Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.  

Evan Daugherty won the Script Pipeline competition in 2008 with the screenplay that would become Killing Season, starring Robert De Niro and John Travolta. Daugherty really became a hot topic in 2012 when his original screenplay for Snow White and the Huntsman hit the silver screen. Now known as an action writer, Daugherty wrote YA adaptation Divergent and has the script for G.I. Joe 3 upcoming.

“It’s essential to keep writing and not be discouraged if your first few scripts aren’t very good.  If you keep at it, your writing will improve.” -- Evan Daugherty

Read more about how Daugherty got his start here:

The Giver

Michael Mitnick & Robert B. Weide

Mitnick is an MFA playwright out of Yale Drama whose plays have been performed regionally and whose musical adaptation of Animal House is heading to Broadway. He’s penning the screenplay for The Giver along with the multi-talented comedy aficionado Weide, who’s known for feature docs on comedy legends like the Marx Brothers, Lenny Bruce, and Woody Allen. He is also a director whose work on Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm earned him an Emmy.

Stay tuned for the next Know Your Screenwriters post coming soon! Be sure to share the knowledge on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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