It’s no secret that Hollywood prefers reboots with baked in audiences to the unknown entity of original scripts these days. While we don’t begrudge them their concern over the all-important bottom line, we can’t help but itch for something a little more … original. There are a lot of creative people out there with awesome ideas, and for proof of that, look no further than Reddit’s r/WritingPrompts. The subreddit encourages budding writers to take a crack at writing flash fiction, short stories, and occasionally, full-length novels based on user-submitted prompts.
In a quick skim of the top prompts, you’ll find dozens of ideas that are just begging to be Hollywood scripts, so we decided to have a little fun and imagine what films based off of these prompts might look like. For each entry we’ve listed our choice for a director and lead cast, and created a basic synopsis that sets forth our vision for these could-be films. Tired of the same old story? Check these Reddit writing prompts/pitches that Hollywood should seriously consider.
A World Away
Prompt: “A planet rotates once every thousand years so that each side is either tundra or desert; the poles are also frozen wastes, but there is a small area of ever moving habitable land. Two nomadic tribes isolated on each side of the planet begin to find the 500 year old relics of the other.”
Film title: A World Away
Quick-and-dirty synopsis: Stranded on opposite ends of a faraway planet, two outcasts, shunned by their respective tribes, find ancient relics of each other’s civilizations. Though they live impossibly far apart, their shared search for identity causes them to cross paths, deep in the heart of the vast desert between them.
Can they overcome their differences, brave the elements, and start anew?
Dream director: Ridley Scott
Known for gritty, dystopian sci-fi blockbusters, Scott is the perfect helmer for a film of this ilk. With classics like Alien and Blade Runner on his resume, we have no doubt he’d bring this prompt to the big screen in truly epic fashion.
Dream cast: Tom Hardy, Alicia Vikander
With Mad Max: Fury Road still fresh on our minds, we’d love to see Hardy wandering through a dystopian desert once more. As for Vikander, she’s one of Tinseltown’s most talented young actresses, and Ex Machina proved that she’s capable of a show-stopping sci-fi performance.
Prompt: “A serial killer who kills hitchhikers picks up a serial killer who kills the people who pick him up.”
Film title: Carpool
Quick-and-dirty synopsis: In this off-the-wall dark comedy, a chance encounter brings two serial killers into each other’s crosshairs. Whether driver or passenger, only one man will make it out alive.
Dream director: Guy Ritchie
Ritchie’s penchant for fun, frenetic, off-the-wall action would play well with a script based on this prompt, as would his cheeky sense of humor. We’re imagining a Face/Off-style, mano a mano action flick with the personality of Snatch or Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
Dream cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Oscar Isaac
Gyllenhaal’s creepiness chops were on full display in Nightcrawler, as were Isaac’s in Ex Machina. Put these two in a car, lock the doors, and grab some popcorn.
Prompt: “A group of [Vikings] encounters a Siren at sea, her voice is luring the men to their doom – except one. Now it’s up to a closeted gay Viking to save the day.”
Quick-and-dirty synopsis: This screwball comedy follows an outcast viking warrior (Will Ferrell) whose hidden sexuality helps him become the hero his people need. With his raiding party under the spell of a seductive siren, he steps in to save the day, and leaves the mythic winged woman with an infatuation of her own.
Film title: Irresistible
Dream director: Adam McKay
This directorial decision goes hand-in-hand with our planned casting, as McKay and our lead actor have collaborated on comedy gold many times before. Regardless of who he’s working with, however, the director of hits like Step Brothers and The Big Short is one of the genre’s top talents.
Dream cast: Gal Gadot, Will Ferrell, Kristofer Hivju, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson
It’d be hard to find a better siren than the smoldering Gadot, better vikings than Hivju (AKA – Tormund Giantsbane) and Björnsson (AKA – The Mountain), or a more hilarious hero than Will Ferrell.
In God, Distrust
Prompt: “In an attempt to convince people society would have been better if humanity had never found religion, a time traveler kills anyone who begins to develop a form of faith. He goes back to the present and finds that people now universally worship a god who travels through time and smites heathens.”
Film title: In God, Distrust
Quick-and-dirty synopsis: After his sister commits ritual suicide along with members of a religious cult, a young man sets out to forge a world without faith. By traveling through time and killing religious figures and their followers, he believes he can correct humanity’s “fatal flaw.” His journey, however, has an unintended and cruelly ironic consequence.
Dream director: Francis Lawrence
Something about this evokes Constantine for us, and the supernatural swagger of that film would work really well for this prompt. Now that Lawrence isn’t making a Hunger Games film every six months, we might actually have a shot at landing him.
Dream cast: Chris Hemsworth, Idris Elba, Katheryn Winnick
Maybe it’s the Thor association, but we think Hemsworth would be perfect as a time-traveling, heathen-smiting, unwitting deity. We imagine Elba as the aforementioned cult leader who demands that his followers worship him as a god, and Winnick (Vikings) as Hemsworth’s sister, who he can visit only in the past.
There Goes Our Hero
Prompt: “An elderly couple takes to petty crime to see their superhero kids who no longer call.”
Film title: There Goes Our Hero
Quick-and-dirty synopsis: Being a superhero is a full-time job, but when the vigilante known as Golden Boy begins to neglect his parents, they get suspicious and uncover his true identity. Rather than tell him that they know his secret, however, they set out on a petty crime spree and have a little fun of their own in this action-comedy
Dream director: Matthew Vaughn
Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaughn (double entendre, anyone?) is one of relatively few helmers with experience in “superhero comedy” and his work on X-Men: First Class proves he can handle the more sober side of the genre as well.
Dream cast: Michael Keaton, Diane Lane, Alden Ehrenreich
It would be fun to see former Batman Michael Keaton playing the sort of petty crook that the caped crusader usually leaves strung up by the ankles, and Diane Lane already has “Superman’s mom” on her resume. We’re picturing a baby-faced, wunderkind type for the titular superhero, and Ehrenreich seems to fit that bill nicely.
Prompt: “After years of [gentle] persuasion your best friend since childhood finally agrees to seek professional help for serious mental problems. Much to your dismay, as she begins to improve you slowly start to realize that you are her imaginary friend.”
Film title: Imagine That
Quick-and-dirty synopsis: A young woman with deep-seated psychological issues visits a therapist at the behest of her best friend, who slowly begins to lose her own grip on reality.
Dream director: Wes Anderson
Whatever Anderson’s working on, it simply cannot be more perfect for him than this idea. Just imagine his his poly-chromatic, surrealistic symmetry married with this quirky/heartrending concept.
Dream cast: Aubrey Plaza, Tatiana Maslany, Bill Murray
Aubrey Plaza has been in a few clunkers, but she can play a lonely, tortured soul with the best of them (See: Safety Not Guaranteed). Maslany, on the other hand, has all kinds of range. Her Orphan Black performance is a resume unto itself, and we’d love to see her take on an imaginary friend grappling with her own mortality. As for Bill Murray, he should be cast in all future Wes Anderson films as a matter of course.
Prompt: “A man orders a ‘cheese pizza with no crust’ from a local pizza delivery joint as a joke. Unbeknownst to him, that pizza joint is a drug front and he just placed an order for a kilo of cocaine.”
Film title: Extra Cheese
Quick-and-dirty synopsis: Bored, lonely, and at home by themselves on a Saturday night, two brothers prank call their local pizzeria with an order for a “cheese pizza with no crust.” But when the kilo of coke they’ve unknowingly ordered is delivered to their front door, they’re unable to pay, getting them in hot water with a ruthless drug queenpin.
Dream director: David Gordon Green/Greg Mottola
This idea seems like equal parts Pineapple Express and Superbad so we’re bringing on the directors of both films. Sure, big-time helmers almost never collaborate, but we’re in fantasy land here, so we can have our crust-free pizza and eat it too.
Dream cast: Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, Elizabeth Banks
While Hill has made a habit of competing for Oscars in “serious” films, we can’t help but yearn for the return of the Superbad boys. Throw Banks into the mix as a femme fatale crime boss, and you can just take our money right now.