How many screenwriters does it take to write an "X-Men" film? Or alternate lede: Screenplay credits are a tricky matter. Just ask "Up In The Air" screenwriter Sheldon Turner. He wrote the original draft of the Jason Reitman film, but things turned semi-ugly during the 2009 Oscar campaign when Reitman essentially said -- perhaps in not so many words, but close -- that he had never read Turner's draft and had adapted the screenplay on his own from Walter Kirn's novel. Still, Turner received his screen credit. And the duo awkwardly took the stage when they won the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay as the controversy was just beginning to brew and as as their dispute grew and made headlines for Oscar bloggers, they were rewarded during the awards show with nothing; Geoffrey Fletcher's "Precious" screenplay won the adapted screenplay prize, as Academy voters backlashed against the dispute, despite the fact that the "Up In The Air" screenplay was long assumed to be the frontrunner for that bauble. Oh well.
Turner is at the center of another semi-controversial screen credit dispute. This one focuses on 20th Century Fox's "X-Men: First Class" which if you didn't know better, you'd think was written by committee -- always the sign of a terrible film to come. Fortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case, but a lot of writers hands have passed through the script for "X-Men: First Class," which you can tell by the just-released trailer, is set in the early 1960s during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Or at least, a lot of writers had a crack at writing the script.
One of the earliest was Josh Schwartz, who created the teen-friendly TV shows "Gossip Girl" and "The O.C," but then Bryan Singer mended fences with the creative producing team and came back onboard after jettisoning "X-Men 3" for "Superman Returns." He had wanted to direct initially, but his "Jack the Giant Killer" obligations to Warner Bros. nixed that idea fast. At some point between Schwartz and Singer returning, other writers were hired such as Jamie Moss ("Street Kings"), Ashley Miller ("Thor," "Fringe" and "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles") and b> Zack Stentz ("Fringe") and they also worked on the script as well. And then eventually, Matthew Vaughn also returned to the fold (after bailing on "X-Men: The Last Stand" and pissing off everyone at Fox) and he brought with him his constant screenwriting collaborator Jane Goldman ("Stardust," "Kick-Ass").
So the film was made, it hits theaters June 3rd after what sounds like a very rushed production (ironically the very thing that made Vaughn bail on the 'X-Men' the first time), but as all the trailers demonstrate so far, it looks like there's some weight and import to it all (which makes us very happy). However, THR reports about what's been going on behind the scenes which is basically screenwriting arbitration. Everyone's who's put keystrokes to computer wants a piece of the screenwriting credit action, but the Writers Guild of America (WGA) has put down their ruling and out in the cold is Schwartz and Moss.
Frankly, it's not too much of a surprise. Moss worked on the script so early on that by the time Goldman and Vaughn were revising it, likely little of his contributions stayed. Essentially, even though "X-Men:First Class" had been brewing since 2008, the production basically started over when Bryan Singer came back into the fold. Schwartz's exclusion is no shocker either. His screenplay was said to be teen-beaty and based on the "X-Men:First Class" comics which, if you've read them, are nothing like anything remotely resembling the "X-Men: First Class" story (and they feature a lot of different characters).
Story credit has (naturally) gone on to Singer and along with... Sheldon Turner. Wait, why? Because Turner was drafted to write the "X-Men Origins: Magneto" script way back in 2005 that David S. Goyer was supposed to direct. That film never got off the ground (you can probably thank the horrible "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" as one of the reasons delaying the Magneto story). We must assume that the building blocks of the Magneto story were folded into "X-Men: First Class" by Singer (who had surely read it by then) and thus Turner gets story credit.
So final screenwriting credits go to Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz and Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn (with story by Singer and Turner). Some will surely be scratching their heads, but that's how the cookie crumbles people. Moss and Schwartz may appeal the WGA ruling, but we assume at least "The O.C." guy has no shot in hell.