Forty of the best screenplay examples to read and download…
If you’re looking for the best screenplays to read you’re in the right place. We’ve been strong advocates for the benefits of reading screenplays for a long time as it’s one of the simplest ways to learn how to write.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a mega list of the fifty best screenplays to read for aspiring screenwriters.
This list of the best screenplays to read is grouped into the five main genres you’ll find in Hollywood today: drama, comedy, action/adventure, thriller and horror. (We prefer to call sci-fi, western, romance, etc. sub-genres of these five and you’ll find examples of these in the lists below too.)
Screenplay examples in all genres…
Both “shooting” movie scripts and “spec” movie scripts are included in this list. If you’re an aspiring screenwriter trying to break into the industry with a spec, it’s important to ignore all the little formatting quirks that often come with shooting movie scripts. Sluglines with periods instead of dashes, large chunks of descriptive text, excessive use of camera angles and so on, are all expressions of writers who’ve made it.
If you haven’t yet, keep things simple by sticking to regular spec script formatting. So, without further ado, it’s time to get to the first best screenplay in our list…
Popular Screenplay Downloads
The most popular screenplay downloads are… (click to download freeebooks.us)
- The Chinese Pope – The Vatican names a Cardinal the Pope, when he is imprisoned by the Communist Chinese.
- Tobit – A pious Jew in Amsterdam finds a daughter-in-law and confronts evil on a number of levels.
- Lenin’s Body – Two drunks steal the body of Lenin the night before it’s supposed to be buried.
- The Baseball Muse – A Japanese woman leaves a career as a geisha and rehabilitates troubled MLB baseball players.
- Streets of Manila – When a Mexican cartel sends an elite squad of hitmen to Manila, the President of the Philippines fights back!
- Permanent Girlfriend – The first Covid-19 Quarantine romantic comedy.
- Roosevelt Hotel – In the future, clones of celebrities are used like library books, people can some to the hotel and check them out like a book.
- The Truth about the Chupacabra – Texas professors learn the Chupacabra aren’t mangy coyotes but extremely shy extraterrestrials.
- The Tarantino Heist – A Tarantino look-alike makes a film in Russia.
- A Year in Russia Without Women – The men in Russia panic when ALL 72 million Russian women disappear.
- Verity’s Surfing Movie – An Ivy League professor fighting Alzheimer’s moves to Southern to try to remember her surfer son.
- Unsolicited Material – Two screenwriters go to extraordinary lengths to have a producer read their script.
- Tupac Lives – Topac Shakur is discovered living on the streets of Las Vegas.
- Whiskey Tango Foxtrot – All hell breaks loose in the Iraq war.
- The Puppy Mill – A dog show enthusiast is preyed upon by a corrupt sheriff’s deputy.
- The Weekender – A government teacher is framed and must serve weekend in the county jail… where he learns a few things.
- The Pirate Hunters – Navy SEALS don’t go on leave but chase Somali pirates.
- B-25 – POWs, in World War, must assemble a B-25 and escape Japan before August 6, 1945.
- The 10th Cavalry – A Black cavalry unit must fight Comanche, Confederates, starvation and thirst in West Texas.
- the little black dress – History of Russia as told be the owners of a dress handed down through the century.
- The Fisherman’s Wife – A Filipino must deal with the reality that his wife is becoming famous.
- The West Philippine Sea – A transgender woman is treated harshly but when her fishing boat is sunk she must chose to save the crew of let them drown..
- Slab City – Homesless and unfortunate souls live rent-free in the California desert.
- Sea and Sky – A Filipino tribe of young surfers adopt an older woman with Alzheimer’s.
- Oscar Night – An actress about to quit trying gets one last break, Oscar night.
- Second Grade – Islamic terrorists storm a small K-12 Oklahoma school, but the second grade resists.
- 500 MEALS – A resturanateur gives up cooking professionally to cook his father’s last few meals.
- The New Corporate Culture – Socialism runs amok in New York City.
- Comanche – Docudrama focusing on the Comanche native tribe of West Texas.
- Dersu – A Siberian hunter is mistaken for a reform politician in Russia.
- Donetsk – A Russian Admiral is assassinated in EXACTLY the same manner at John F. Kennedy was in Dallas.
- Escape of the Planter – Robert Smalls, an escaped slave, steals a confederate ship and delivers it to the North.
- Gelert and the Last Dog Show – A zombie apocalypse leaves only a few the young people to care for 700 dogs.
- Ghost Mayor – A ghost runs for mayor of Chicago.
- Anarene – Small town drug story.
- Gravestones – A high school science project leads to the shocking discovery of anti-Semitism in central Texas.
- Curators – Islamic librarians must move and hide millions of books before they are burns by fundamentalists.
- Lev – An autistic Moscow boy must find his mother in Leningrad when he KGB father is caught up in one of Stalin’s purges.
- Metro2 – When a Nazi army suddenly appears in contemporary Moscow, the President of Russia must seek shelter in the Metro.
- Moscow Rocks – An all-girl-band fights the government in Russia.
- Peter the Great Vampire Killer – Peter the Great fights vampires disguised as socialists and Swedes.
- Pray for Rain – When a West Texas rancher prays for rain, he receives a visit from a Hollywood starlet.
- Rumors – When an Afghani man is accused of helping the infidels, he must fight for his life.
- Salton Sea Pet Motel – A puppy mill is operating out of a pet motel in Southern California.
- Santa and the Pole Dancer – Christmas is almost canceled because of labor unrest at the North Pole.
- Inside-Outside USSR – A surfer is expelled from the USSR the same day Solzhenitsyn makes his flight.
The best way to learn is to read screenplay examples.
There are many lessons to learn from reading screenplay examples and even comparing them to their filmed counterparts. Some of those screenplay examples lessons include:
- Inspiring character development: Look out for memorable introductions, clear goals, unique quirks, and life-like personalities. Use the hero’s journey structure to track your protagonist’s growth in the film.
- Realistic dialogue: What your characters say should feel natural to the world they’re in and to the audience watching. Find lines that bring out character personalities and show, not tell, the story. Consider also using localized slang or affectations to really bring people and places to life.
- Great scene description: Scripts can really show readers what they can expect from a scene’s setting by choosing unique locales, using precise language and visuals, and integrating thematic settings, objects, and colors.
- Well-executed plot points: Review both chronological and more complex or non-chronological structures that complement or improve the story. For example, Quentin Tarantino chose a structure of three interrelated stories for Pulp Fiction.
- Engaging scenes: Many script-to-film examples demonstrate how strong tension is built into scenes that keep readers and audiences on the edge of their seats. Scenes with clear obstacles and protagonist motivations keep eyes on the page and screen.
- Twists on genre conventions: Writers can subvert reader and audience expectations by making deliberate choices that go against the norm for a specific genre, such as in Cabin in the Woods. Others choose to blend genres together. Looney Tunes: Back in Action is a lesson in covering the whole gamut, including spy thriller, Western, sci-fi, and Indiana Jones-style adventure, not to mention the screwball comedy of the Looney Tunes.
The best way to learn is to read screenplay examples.