10 Totally Confusing Hollywood Screenwriting Disputes

Who actually wrote these Hollywood movies?

Universal Pictures

Think you know who wrote your favourite movies? There’s a good chance what you know is wrong.

One of the most controversial subjects in film production is writing credits. While the romanticised view of screenwriting involves one or two writers collaborating on a screenplay, scripts for Hollywood movies are often passed from writer to writer, with no actual discussion until the film goes into production. Worse, even if a dozen writers work a screenplay, only a handful will receive on-screen credit. Deciding who gets that credit often causes behind-the-scenes issues.

Many of those issues stem from the Writers Guild of America (WGA). In theory, the WGA exists to ensure that executives do not unintentionally or intentionally strip a screenwriter of well-deserved credit. While most screenwriting credits are assigned without argument, the WGA arbitrates any disputed credits with the intention of giving credit to the writer(s) who established the initial concepts and/or did the most work on the script. Unfortunately, this is an imperfect system that sometimes results in writers getting credit for scripts that they had little or nothing to do with.

Because writing credits are extremely valuable on a screenwriter's resume (opening doors for future work and higher fees), some fights over proper credit have been extremely bitter. The following ten movies each had controversial and confusing battles over the authorship of the screenplays.


Chris McKittrick is a published author of fiction and non-fiction and has spoken about film and comic books at conferences across the United States. In addition to his work at WhatCulture!, he is a regular contributor to CreativeScreenwriting.com, MovieBuzzers.com, and DailyActor.com, a website focused on acting in all media. For more information, visit his website at http://www.chrismckit.com.