Script Development

A movie has to start with a script. A screenwriter may write a complete script on "spec" or speculation (not under contract) and attract a studio or financier through a literary agent or his or her own devices. Sometimes the writer "pitches" or tells a story idea to a producer or studio executive, or writes a treatment, an outline of the story. A studio may have purchased or optioned the right to make a book, play or magazine article into a movie. In this case, the studio would then hire a screenwriter to write the script. 
No matter how the story starts, an agent or a producer brings a completed script to a studio or to another financing entity, which buys or options it, which is paying for the rights for a finite period of time. A very small percentage of projects are actually optioned or bought compared to the thousands of scripts a studio receives every year. Studios and financiers never accept unsolicited material that doesn't come through authorized channels.
Once a studio owns a script, it is not uncommon for a number of drafts to be written, based on input from the executives, producers and any other principals involved. Often, additional writers are hired to rewrite the script, polishing dialogue or writing new scenes. When the studio thinks the script is ready, and certain key elements have committed themselves to the project, such as the director or lead actor, the studio "greenlights" the project, giving the go-ahead to start the production process.

The 1941 classic, HERE COMES MR. JORDAN, won two Academy Awards® for screenplay and story.